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Students demand ‘Black Solidarity Day’ at Binghamton University

Former professor says race-specific days turn campuses ‘ into centers of grievance, hostility, and political activism instead of the sites for the pursuit of knowledge’

Students and administrators at Binghamton University want a “Black Solidarity Day” added to the academic calendar for the upcoming fall semester.

The Black Student Union is pushing for the recognition along with the Student Association. “[T]op level administrators” are reportedly in support as well, according to the campus newspaper.

The BSU regularly hosts “Black Solidarity” programming. It has yet to provide comment to The College Fix after initially acknowledging receipt of the email.

The BSU told The Fix via email that it would answer how it thought Black Solidarity Day would help create a more inclusive campus and benefit students. The group has yet to provide further comment since June 13 when it first responded. The group was also asked if it would support adding other solidarity days for other races.

The Fix reviewed the academic calendar for the New York public university and identified only seven holidays where students receive the day off – Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Easter and Passover. The three others are Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Juneteenth, although most classes are out on that day anyways. Students are not exempt from classes on other days including Columbus Day and Veterans Day.

The Black Power Movement first started Black Solidarity Day in 1969. Recognized on the Monday before November elections, it started as a day where black people would stay home from work and school to show how their absence would affect society.

According to Carlos Russell, spokesperson of the Black Solidarity committee, instead of working black people would protest “against the intensifying repression that threatens the very existence of black people in America” on Black Solidarity Day.

Nia Johnson, president of the Student Association, said the black student group has previously planted black flags to honor all the black people who have lost their lives to police brutality, She told the student paper that “[b]lack creatives share their work, reflect on the day and march around campus honoring those who lost their lives to brutality and share our stories.”

“It will show Black students that our culture and our history matters in a higher academia setting,” Johnson told the BU Pipe Dream. “I also believe that this is a step that BU can take to show Black students ‘we see you all, we hear you all and this is our step toward fostering a more culturally competent campus.’ The only Black holiday recognized on the academic calendar is Juneteenth, [but] there is a difference between acknowledging a holiday during the summer sessions and acknowledging a holiday during the fall semester.”

The Fix asked Johnson and other members of the Student Association for more information on their advocacy but no one responded to two emails since in the past three weeks.

Binghamton has not said whether they plan to add Black Solidarity Day to the academic calendar. The Binghamton University president’s office and Ryan Yarosh, director of media and public relations for the school, were both asked twice in the past three weeks whether they planned on adding the Black Solidarity Day to the academic calendar, but did not receive a response.

Professor calls race-specific days a ‘terrible idea’

A former New York University professor who has been critical of wokeness in academia called it a “terrible idea.”

Professor Michael Rectenwald, author of “Beyond Woke” a former professor of global and liberal studies, told The Fix via email that he thought this day would hurt, not help, students at Binghamton.

“‘Black Solidarity Day’ is a terrible idea. It suggests that all blacks represent a singular collective block of people, rather than a group of distinct and diverse individuals,” Professor Rectenwald said.

“Furthermore, the nomenclature is suggestive of collectivist leftist politics. ‘Solidarity’ is something that leftists claim is necessary for political power… Rather than adding ‘Black Solidarity Day,’ it would behoove blacks more if the college celebrated individual blacks for their achievements as individuals.”

“The effect [of Black Solidarity Day] is to suggest that blacks are somehow incapable of success without special affirmative-action…,” he said. “It encourages defeatism because it gives the incorrect impression that blacks are being thwarted by outside forces, when, in fact, they are not.”

MORE: Bret Weinstein chased out for not taking part of white ‘Day of Absence’

IMAGE: Black Student Union/Instagram

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Jonathan Draeger is a student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison pursuing a degree in Economics and a certificate in German.