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Boston University students flocked to twitter to defend their new incoming Assistant Professor of Sociology and African-American studies, Sadia Grundy, with the hashtag #isupportsadia after she drew fire from right wing media outlets for her supposedly “anti-white” tweets. “White masculinity isn’t a problem for america’s colleges, white masculinity is THE problem for america’s colleges,” Grundy tweeted in March, and followed that with “White masculinity isn’t a problem for america’s colleges, white masculinity is THE problem for america’s colleges.” calling them in another tweet a “problem population”.
Amherst student Nick Pappas discovered the tweets after combing through her twitter feed “for just the past three to four months” – nothing creepy about that at all – and posted them on his website ‘SoCawlege’ with an incensed commentary which takes issue with Grundy’s fairly typical left of center thinking on everything from slavery to Paul Rand. Despite the fact social media posts about issues such as race, whiteness, white male privilege and politics are boringly standard over on Camp Left, the Washington Times, Fox News and other outlets, with an apparent lack of irony, seized on the opportunity to “prove” Grundy “wrong” about white males by attacking her, calling for her dismissal, inciting vicious tweets and threats and generally behaving like entitled, and privileged white males having a tantrum.
It’s easy for most people on the left to forget that these trolls exist, so used are we to the tired old adage “Check your privilege” introduced to the general population via Occupy. 101 identity politics has become so normal to everyone left of center that watching a frenzy of white males protesting indignantly that one outspoken, passionate young black academic is systematically oppressing them with her twitter feed seems almost like a Saturday Night Live skit.
Pappas – a white male junior who is on a crusade to expose liberal bias and abuses across America – wrote on his blog “You have to teach college aged white males eventually, no?…this seems like you are unqualified to grade their work as you clearly demonstrate some kind of
special bias against them”.
David Horowitz, author of “Reforming our Universities” told Fox News that he was “not surprised that Boston University is hiring a racist to teach African American Studies.” He added “Anti-white racism is rampant in Black Studies programs which are generally indoctrination programs in left wing politics.”
I’m white. I don’t like identity politics mainly because watching privileged Americans bitch about more privileged Americans and then be put in their place by less privileged Americans, usually on Facebook, and usually with the resolution that white people are to blame, seems myopic and woefully simplistic. Most proponents of identity politics ignore the nuances of intersectionality and never really progress much beyond the dynamics of American racism. This is a problem when it comes to really grappling with the issues which affect American society – but on another level, when you’re confronted by the stark binary of Black Woman being put in her place by leagues of furious White Males, you start to realize that actually, this inability to progress past the simple black / white binary is because America as a society can’t get past it. America is still stuck in segregation, in the era of Jim Crow.
Whether you’re a left wing white male or a right wing white male, you possess a power and a unique position in society which Grundy – and myself – will never be able to achieve. It’s simply impossible for a white male to notice their contingent reality because it is so unremarkable, so normalized, so engrained into us. As the victim of white male bias in the courtroom, in academia, in my chosen career as a screenwriter, I can only applaud the words of Grundy who effortlessly drew out the snake so that the rest of us white people can remember that not everyone thinks like the people on our Facebook feed. Not everyone understands the courage and tenacity of Grundy to stand fast in her beliefs while she weathers a storm of white male fury designed, simply, to belittle and destroy her, as if she were an impudent slave, and they the Plantation Owners.
This white woman supports Sadia.
Ruth Fowler is a journalist and screenwriter living in Los Angeles. She’s the author of Girl Undressed. She can be followed on Twitter at @fowlerruth.