People were big mad about a class called “White Racism” that is currently being offered at the Florida Gulf Coast University. So mad, in fact, that the university felt the need to put at least two campus police officers on guard during the class’s first session Tuesday as a precaution.
“We have prepared for any possible distractions related to Tuesday’s first class of the White Racism course, but we are expecting normal campus civility as our students engage in this and other courses at the spring semester’s start,” Susan Evans, FGCU’s spokeswoman and chief of staff, told the News-Press.
The course is is designed to “interrogate the concept of race; examine the racist ideologies, laws, policies, and practices that have operated for hundreds of years to maintain white racial domination over those racialized as non-white; and discuss ways to challenge white racism and white supremacy toward promoting an anti-racist society where whiteness is not tied to greater life chances,” according to the university website.
Ted Thornhill, assistant professor of sociology, will be leading the class. Since news about the course started making the rounds across the nation, he has received countless disturbing emails and voicemails. A few students who had enrolled in the class even approached him to address safety concerns.
And so Thornhill sent FGCU police some 46 pages of emails, along with a few voicemails, as a precaution.
“I think most of us don’t anticipate there being any unrest or protest or anything like that,” Thornhill said. “But it’s more of a prudent measure to have law enforcement present just in case.”
While, according to the News-Press, none of the messages actually threatened violence or interruptions of the class, they definitely weren’t pleasant, and some flat out wished ill upon him.
“I can call a black man a nigger when it’s appropriate, and I do,” one of the callers said in one of the voicemails. “I am not ashamed of it. It doesn’t make me a racist. If Jay-Z can say it and a black man can say it, I can say it.”
“Cancer (Stage 4) is what you and your family deserve for spreading hate, lies & intolerance,” another person wrote in an email..
Thornhill is taking the commentary in stride, nothing that the reaction has been “upsetting but perhaps not entirely surprising given the nature of these more rabid white racists.”
“I take these type of things seriously, just like when people were writing racist things on the whiteboard and then posting things around campus,” he explained. “You never know what people are thinking and what they might be capable of. It’s good to be cautious.”
It is unclear whether the bolstered security will continue throughout the semester; Thornhill has declined to confirm.
“I don’t think that we would share many of those details for individuals who have negative intentions,” he said. “I think that we will be safe and that students don’t have anything to worry about except for completing their reading and doing their work and engaging with the material.”
Read more at the News-Press.