A professor at the University of Central Florida faces calls for his removal after claiming in a Twitter rant that “black privilege is real” and insisting that the answer to systematic oppression is to “stay in school” amid nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd.
Charles Negy, an associate professor in the Psychology Department, has fired off over 30 contentious tweets about race, inequality, and oppression since May 25—the day Floyd was filmed repeatedly saying he couldn’t breathe while an officer pressed his knee on his neck for several minutes.
The controversial tweets, which were sent while thousands of people across the country have taken to the streets to protest against police brutality and racial inequality, have prompted the UCF community to call for his ouster using the hashtag #UCFireHim, which has since gone viral.
“Sincere question: If Afr. Americans as a group, had the same behavioral profile as Asian Americans (on average, performing the best academically, having the highest income, committing the lowest crime, etc.), would we still be proclaiming ‘systematic racism’ exists?” Negy tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
UCF officials said in a Thursday statement the school is “aware” of Negy’s comments on his personal Twitter account and is currently reviewing them. The school, however, added that while being “actively anti-racist means calling out and confronting racist comments,” his critics need to be “mindful of the First Amendment.”
“Black privilege is real: Besides affirm. action, special scholarships and other set asides, being shielded from legitimate criticism is a privilege. But as a group, they’re missing out on much needed feedback,” the professor tweeted Wednesday, reposting an article from the “libertarian webzine” Taki’s Magazine, whose staff once included white nationalist Richard Spencer. The article insists the “establishment” treats minority communities as “our Sacred Cows” that are “above criticism, but beneath agency.”
That tweet was one of nine sent Wednesday amid news that Minneapolis Attorney General Kieth Ellison was charging the three other Minneapolis cops involved in Floyd’s death with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Ellison also announced that Derek Chauvin, who held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, now faces second-degree murder charges, after initially being charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter last week.
Negy, who has been with the Florida university since 1998, took a different approach to the announcement, which was widely praised as being a stepping stone toward justice and police reform.
“Here’s a suggestion to those who think they are being ‘screwed’ and oppressed in the U.S.: Stay in school. Be the best student possible. Avoid crime. Avoid gangs. Avoid unwanted pregnancy. Avoid drugs and alcohol. Amazing what a little common sense can do you for your destiny,” Negy wrote.
The professor, who wrote a book called White Shaming: Bullying based on Prejudice, Virtue-Signaling, and Ignorance, also slammed white Americans who have joined the Black Lives Matter protests in solidarity.
“I love that white liberal young lady (sarcasm). I’m so happy she exists to save us minorities. What would we do without these folks with “white savior syndrome?” he tweeted Wednesday.
In another tweet, Negy wrote: “I fear that our leaders shove ‘Diversity is our strength’ down our throats because they know privately what is more likely to happen to us: tribalism will have us fighting non-stop over EVERYthing. We may learn ‘Diversity is divisive.’”
Negy insisted the only silver lining about the ongoing protests is that mentions of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic—which has killed over 100,000 Americans—has faded into the background.
“The good thing about the riots: MSM stopped telling us 24/7 that we’re all going to die from COVID-19,” Negy wrote. “The riots must have eradicated the virus.”
While Negy did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment, the psychology professor said in a statement to the school’s paper, Knight News, that he does “not represent UCF in [his] tweets” and noted he has a “legal right to express my views and raise questions.”
Negy also spent some time responding to critics of his online arguments, which were deemed “racist” by hundreds of social-media users and UCF students.
“Fascism at its finest,” the professor responded to a tweet by Tatiyana Sierra, a UCF alum who now works at ESPN. Sierra tweeted that the community does “not stand with this ignorant man” and called for an investigation of his tweets and his ouster.
A Change.org petition has also been launched demanding the University of Central Florida investigate Negy and seek more diverse faculty and staff as a way to combat ongoing systemic oppression.
This is not the first time that Negy has come under fire for his controversial statements. In 2012, he faced backlash for sending an email to his cross-cultural psychology class stating that students who proclaimed that Christianity is the most valid religion display religious bigotry.
“Students in my class who openly proclaimed that Christianity is the most valid religion, as some of you did last class, portrayed precisely what religious bigotry is. Bigots—racial bigots or religious bigots—never question their prejudices and bigotry,” Negy wrote in the 2012 email that was later posted on Reddit, according to InsideHigherEd. “They are convinced their beliefs are correct. For the Christians in my class who argued the validity of Christianity last week, I suppose I should thank you for demonstrating to the rest of the class what religious arrogance and bigotry looks like.”