VIDEO: Cornell 'takes a knee' to protest racism

The event included an appearance by Prof. Russell Rickford, who led the crowd in chants of “I believe we will win” and “Free Palestine.”

The assembled protesters took a knee for only two minutes, but there were other speeches at the rally, as well.

Hundreds of students, staff and faculty members gathered at Cornell University’s Arts Quad to “take a knee” to address white supremacy, racism and support the recent NFL protests started by Colin Kaepernick.

The event, organized by the Cornell Coalition for Inclusive Democracy, comes in response to the Latino Living Center overhearing brothers of Zeta Psi fraternity jokingly chanting “Build a Wall,” and an alleged recent assault on a black student which resulted in a sit-in. 

According to the event description on Facebook, “Kaepernick’s anthem protest is important because it reminds us that racism is not only a matter of individual acts of harassment and aggression on the part of a few bad actors, but something that is enabled and perpetuated by institutional practices that systematize inequality and exclusion.”

While the kneeling only lasted two minutes, the rally was filled with speeches covering topics of white supremacy, racism, and privilege.

“Our society is steeped in white supremacy. Why should we expect Cornell, an enterprise built on stolen land, to be any different?” History Professor Russell Rickford said during his speech, which Cornell Law Professor William Jacobson labeled a "hijacking" of the event.

Rickford argued that Cornell represents white supremacy because “its daily functions reproduce the hierarchies of privilege, including racial privilege, upon which global capitalism rests.”

He later led chants of “I believe we will win” and “free Palestine.” He also called on the university to become a sanctuary campus, to allow for graduate worker’s rights and unions, and to implement a series of demands from the Cornell’s Black Student Union.

Rickford also acknowledged that diversity training, discussions of equity and kneeling will not “redeem us.” He suggested that the only way to overcome white supremacy is to “redistribute the powers and resources.”

The Cornell Daily Sun recently released the full 12 demands, including race-based training for Greek Life organizations and accepting more “Black American students” whose families have lived more than two generations in the United States.l

Other demands include hiring at least two more “psychologists and psychiatrists of color;” converting Psi Upsilon fraternity into a multicultural center for the African diaspora; and the institution of mandatory courses on power and privilege in the United States, focusing particularly on oppressed people, “assembled by professional diversity consultants and student leaders.”

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H/T: College Insurrection