A State University of New York professor wrote in a blog post this month that he feels oppressed by homeless white men who beg for food and money in his neighborhood, and fantasizes about attacking them.
Nicholas Powers, an associate professor of black literature at SUNY Old Westbury, made the confession in a since-deleted essay headlined “Seeing poor white people makes me happy. It was published by the RaceBaitr blog on June 11.
Powers recounted walking walking past a “homeless white boy” and having hateful and violent thoughts about him because of “the history of colonization, slavery and mass incarceration.”
On one occasion, Powers recalled thinking of the man: “Should I kick him in the face? Hard? No, chill, he’s not worth it. But why is this white boy begging for money in a Black neighborhood? Is he stupid?”
Another time, when the man asked him for something to eat, Powers said he mused, “”Baby, you stole all mine,” and also, “Who is he? Why is he here? Where are his people?”
Noting that the man was “sunburnt and thin” with scabs covering his mouth apparently did not trigger Powers’ empathy.
Powers said of the man: “Here is a descendant of murderers who killed our ancestors now begging us to save their life.” He also said that a white person “begging Black people for money [is] ironic – if not insulting. You wasted your whiteness! Why should we give to you?”
What would MLK do?
The professor said that he sometimes tries to remind himself to be loving like Martin Luther King Jr.
“I know it’s not a good look. At least I think I know? I have the ghost of Martin Luther King Jr. in my head like a life coach exhorting me to ‘be my best self,’ ‘show compassion to those who spite you,’ ‘turn the other cheek’ and ‘don’t give our enemies more reasons to hate us.’
However, he then decided: “I need to kick Martin Luther King Jr. out of my head. Go fuck another secretary Martin! I need to ask what this white homeless boy means to me.”
Powers said that he is not alone among black Americans in his desire to “get even” with whites.
“I saw three brothers run up and spit on him as people cackled at the white boy who wiped sticky gobs from his eyelids,” he said. “The laughter was cruel, joyful and belly deep. They might as well shook slave chains in his face and said, ‘Now you get to wear these nigga!'”
Nicholas Powers and the joy of hating
Powers acknowledged that his hateful thoughts also make him “feel good” and “smile.”
“White people begging us for food feels like justice,” he said. “It feels like Afro-Futurism after America falls. It feels like a Black Nationalist wet dream. It has the feels I rarely feel, a hunger for historical vengeance satisfied so well I rub my belly.”
After describing the unpleasantness of witnessing black poverty, Powers said: “But when a white person begs, maybe a white woman breastfeeding or a young white boy whining like a broken flute, I feel better. Good. It’s not just us. I feel happy. I feel like the scales of justice could shift.”
He attributed the feeling to being liberated from the need for white approval.
“The cruelty cures my internalized racism that forces me to empathize with him – so I can be patted on the head like a good peaceful protester,” he said. “All my white editors want me to write that way. All the white institutions that pay me want me to feel that way. But I don’t – and saying I don’t is freeing. It pulls the unconscious whiteness out of my brain. I don’t need to see my best or worst self reflected on his skin.”
By contrast, Powers denounced a black Christian woman he saw giving chicken to the “homeless white boy” as still enslaved to her internalized racism.
“She saw her best self reflected in his whiteness,” he said. “She saw her beautiful white soul, doing a white God’s work, on the mirror of white flesh.”
When he saw a wealthy white man speaking with his homeless nemesis, Powers interpreted it as an act of racial solidarity driven by fear of white enslavement.
How do I know? The fear in his tight mouth is disgust. The fear in his eyes is forced and unwanted racial empathy. He’s worried, like many whites are, that as they become the minority, fewer and fewer places will exist where they have power. They worry that at some point the roles will be reversed and they will have to beg for food. He looked at the homeless white boy and saw a hungry ghost, seemingly expelled from some alternate dimension where Europeans are enslaved, segregated and mass incarcerated. He sees the fall of America.Neither of us ask the kid’s name. We don’t need to. His name is ink-blot. His name is Rorschach. It’s whatever we see in the dark shapes that sleep on the street or pass by us on the train. That occasionally reaches out to us and says, “Help.”
According to Powers’ faculty webpage, his research interests include African American aesthetics, marxism, and feminist theory. He teaches courses on African American literature and black women writers.
Although his latest essay has been removed from RaceBaitr, which acknowledges that it engages in what some would consider race baiting, his byline appears on 16 other articles on the website dating back to 2015.
The College Fix first reported on his blog post on Friday.
Powers is not the only academic to express anti-white sentiment in recent months. In May, author and Boston University lecturer Robin DiAngelo suggested that white people can never hope to rid themselves of racism. In April, sociology professor Johnny Eric Williams called whiteness a form of “terrorism”.
According to Columbia University linguist John McWhorter, anti-racism has become something like a religion among woke Americans.
“Something happened in this country about five years ago where being on the side of the angels meant that you were supposed to deny facts, that you were supposed to exaggerate, that you were supposed to embrace a notion such as that whites are supposed to be guilty of a privilege that they have upon birth, and the evil of it cannot be expunged,” McWhorter said in an interview with Reason in March. “It all starts sounding like fundamental Christianity.”