A Florida professor’s class on “White Racism” has drawn so much controversy that at least two campus police officers were present to guard the course’s first meeting on Tuesday, according to the News-Press.
The course, which is being offered at Florida Gulf Coast University, has caused a storm because of its name and the media attention that came along with it. It is being taught by Ted Thornhill, an assistant professor of sociology. The course description says the class will “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.”
Speaking with a local news station in November, Thornhill defended the choice of name.
“I do understand why some people might be uncomfortable with the title, but in order to move the conversation forward, people have to get uncomfortable—or rather, get comfortable with getting uncomfortable,” he said.
Thornhill told the News-Press that he began to receive negative emails and voicemails as the class gained more attention.
One voicemail said, “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.”
Thornhill told the paper he thought the class would be safe. Susan Evans, the university’s spokeswoman and chief of staff, told the News-Press that the school was “expecting normal campus civility.”
The first class began with no incidents reported, but it is unknown if the police will remain present throughout the entire semester.