A university in Fort Myers, Florida, has begun teaching a course called “White Racism” with protection from police officers this week.
Ted Thornhill started teaching the course at Florida Gulf Coast University to a class of 50 students on Tuesday, January 9.
But the class was accompanied by at least two campus police officers after Thornhill, who is Black, received thousands of personally-targeted comments and threats in emails, voicemails and social media.
The assistant professor sent a 46-paged report to authorities containing the negative feedback. Some include:
“I can call a black man a (n-word) when it’s appropriate, and I do. 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 and intolerance.”
“I would ask that you stop using the name Ted and Thornhill, as I feel you are using a cultural appropriation. Change it to Obongo Deviantray you racist pig.”
According to its description, the course aims 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.”
Thornhill said that the presence of law enforcement is “more of prudent measure” just in case disturbances break out. A spokesperson also stated that the university is prepared for “any possible distractions” related to the course.
News-Press quoted Thornhill as saying:
“The number of emails I got pales in comparison to the thousands and thousands of comments and post on all manner of social media and traditional media outlet websites that said things that were unspeakable.”
If anything, the course appears relevant in an era of rampant racism against minorities, including Asians.
Despite the threats, Thornhill believes that the course is legitimate. He told CBS affiliate WINK:
“The course needs to be taught, and so, that’s what’s going to happen. It’s a legitimate course.”
Brittani Anderson, a senior student, agrees:
“I think it’s important we talk about these issues, especially because we’ve had these issues on campus. I think the name is a little controversial, but take the class and see what it’s about before you judge it.”
What do you think about the course? Share your thoughts in the comments!