A Cornell University history professor called for a general strike by black artists, academics and professionals this week in response to Donald Trump’s presidential election victory.
The professor, Russell Rickford, “specializes in the black radical tradition” and has written books and articles including “Black Lives Matter: Toward a Modern Practice of Mass Struggle” and “‘Socialism From Below’: A Black Scholar’s Marxist Genealogy.”
Rickford called for the mass strike on Wednesday night during an anti-Trump rally organized by the Black Lives Matter chapter Ithaca, New York, according to The Cornell Daily Sun.
“This is not a time for mourning,” Rickford told hundreds of people gathered in downtown Ithaca. “This is a time for organizing.”
Trump’s victory can lead to a “great awakening” for white progressives, Rickford said.
“We got a rude awakening,” the Ivy League professor said, according to the Cornell student newspaper. “And once you’re awake, you can’t go back to sleep. You can’t pretend. You can’t accept the same lies.”
“Today, we’re facing an intensified form of white supremacy,” Rickford also said. “We call it ‘Trumpism.'”
He described “Trumpism” as containing elements of racism, xenophobia and contempt for women.
As the Sun notes, Trump has described Mexicans as rapists and called for a moratorium on Muslims entering the United States. Trump also refused to condemn the support of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke during a CNN interview.
Rickford said the strike by black artists, professors and professionals would be a grassroots insurgency against the rise of Trump.
“A black face in a high place didn’t save us, and a woman in a high place wouldn’t have either,” he rhymed, according to the Sun.
It’s not clear if Rickford is also inviting black people who have ordinary jobs — who are not artists, professors and professionals — to join the general strike.
A reader responding to the Sun story in the comments section wrote: “The call was not for a general strike of black people, but of ALL people of conscience.”
(Another commenter wrote: “Socialism took a huge step backwards on Tuesday.”)
In any case, Rickford advised that the uprising would start locally. The first thing to do, he said, is to tackle progressive causes in the Ithaca area such as raising the minimum wage, increasing school funding and getting rid of the Ithaca police department’s SWAT truck.
Cornell students and local residents stood for several hours listening to Rickford and other speakers.
“It’s been really hard,” Thea Kozakis, a Cornell graduate student, told the Sun. Trump “doesn’t believe in climate change, and I’m a scientist who studies the atmospheres of planets.”
“I texted my mom asking if my grandparents were born in Italy, because I’m trying to get Italian citizenship now,” Kozakis added.
Abhinav Jindal, a graduate student from India, said he was alarmed by Trump’s bombastic language against foreign people.
“During this campaign it was a little shocking to hear someone with such strong views against people of color contending for the position of president,” Jindal observed.
Earlier this year, in July, Rickford charged that the Fraternal Order of Police is “a terrorist organization.” He made the allegation at a Black Lives Matter protest near the Cornell campus in response to the police shooting deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. “We charge genocide,” Rickford said, and he presented the definition of genocide as proffered by the United Nations. (RELATED: Ivy League Professor: ‘The Fraternal Order Of Police Is A TERRORIST Organization’)
In 2014, Rickford urged white students to commit “race suicide” in a lecture in response to the death of Michael Brown and the riots in Ferguson, Missouri. (RELATED: Ivy League Professor Praises White People Who Are ‘Ready To Commit Race Suicide’)
Also in 2014, during his time at Dartmouth College, Rickford, called Martin Luther King, Jr. Day “a tool of the far-right imperialists to appease people.” (RELATED: Dartmouth professor: MLK Day is a far-right imperialist holiday)