Trinity College placed a college professor on leave after his social media posts caused an uproar that shut down the bucolic Hartford, Conn., campus last week.
There are only two rules by which every American must abide:
- Don’t fry bacon in the nude.
- Don’t scare the whites.
If you ever want to be marginalized, ridiculed or exiled into obscurity, all you have to do is incite the whites. From Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to Black Lives Matter and Tupac, in the history of America, poking at the whites with a stick never ends well.
Take Johnny Eric Williams, for instance. You remember Johnny—the Trinity College professor whose blackety-black Facebook posts about a blackety-black essay caused a wave of pearl-clutching fragility at Trinity last week.
Williams, an associate sociology professor at Trinity who teaches race and racism, read Son of Baldwin’s viral essay “Let Them Fucking Die” and reposted the essay on Facebook. The essay suggests that black people should stop placing their lives in danger trying to save bigoted whites who contribute to their oppression.
Williams posted the article, along with this comment: “I’m fed up with self-identified ‘white’s’ daily violence directed at immigrants, Muslims, and sexually and racially oppressed people. The time is now to confront these inhuman assholes and end this now.”
I know what you’re thinking: Where is the lie? But when a conservative website alerted the school about his comments, it assumed that Williams was about to ... umm ... well, that part is not clear. What is clear is that the whites did what they do every time any black man raises his voice above a whisper: They called the police.
The police shut down the college campus, causing a public outcry that an academic who teaches about racism was actually talking about racism within shouting distance of the whites and their children. What if they read Williams’ posts? What if they learned something? What if they got mad about racism, too?
Williams was forced to leave the state for fear of his life after receiving death threats and harassment from the whites, according to Time magazine. Williams said he fled the state to protect his wife and young children.
Adding insult to injury, according to WTNH in Hartford, after investigating the incident and receiving pressure from local politicians, Trinity’s president, Joane Berger-Sweeney, issued the following statement Monday evening:
To the Members of the Trinity Community,
As a follow-up to my note from last week, I write to inform you that Professor Johnny Williams has been placed on leave, effective immediately. We’ve determined that a leave is in the best interest of both Professor Williams and the college. The review by the Dean of the Faculty of the events concerning Professor Williams will continue.
Meanwhile, I want to take care to note that the principles that underlie this particular set of events go far beyond the actions of any one person. These involve principles that concern how we think about academic freedom and freedom of speech, as well as the responsibilities that come with those fundamental values. It’s true, too, that as scholars and citizens, and as individuals and as a community of higher learning, our roles in and relationship to social media and the public sphere are complicated. We must be able to engage in conversations about these difficult and complex issues, and Trinity College and other places like it are precisely where such conversations should occur. I, for one, welcome them.
Williams’ suspension is the latest in a number of cases in which college professors have been silenced and threatened for speaking against racism. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor—a Princeton assistant professor and author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation—received a number of death threats after calling Donald Trump a “racist, sexist megalomaniac” in a commencement speech at Hampshire College.
The Washington Post reports that Essex County College in Newark, N.J., fired Lisa Durden this week after she appeared on Fox News defending a blacks-only Black Lives Matter event.
“Boo-hoo-hoo,” Durden told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. “You white people are angry because you couldn’t use your ‘white privilege’ card to get invited to the Black Lives Matter’s all-black Memorial Day celebration.”
Let this be a lesson to you all: Remember that freedom of speech doesn’t include black voices, because you’d be better off having hot bacon grease splash on your nether regions than inciting the scorn of the whites.
Trust me on this one.