“Masculinity is a form of Whiteness.”
A teaching assistant at the University of Georgia who has been discussing radical social justice theories in class is currently under internal investigation for posting on Facebook that “some White people may have to die for Black communities to be made whole in this struggle to advance to freedom.”
Last week, Campus Reform editor Rob Shimshock tweeted at UGA with a screen grab from a message by Irami Osei-Frimpong, a PhD candidate in philosophy at the university. “Fighting White People is a skill,” Osei-Frimpong wrote in the since-deleted tweet, dating to Jan. 12. “Really, it’s one reason I’m in support of integrated schools. You have to get used to fighting White people. It takes practice.”
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Osei-Frimpong also added a quote which he attributed to psychologist and political activist Bobby Wright, saying, “Blacks kill Blacks because they have never been trained to kill Whites.” (He later doubled down on the statement in a 45-minute-long video.)
— Rob Shimshock (@ShimshockAndAwe) January 17, 2019
Responding to Shimshock, the university dismissed the provocative tweet. “To the University’s knowledge, the statements were made in his capacity as a private citizens on his personal social media accounts,” UGA said in a statement, noting that other complaints have been previously lodged with the university regarding Osei-Frimpong’s divisive racial rhetoric.
In another since-deleted message, this time on Facebook, Osei-Frimpong responded to a concern that he’s conflating “fighting white supremacy” with “killing whites.” The TA assured his interlocutor that the conflation was not accidental.
“Some White people may have to die for Black communities to be made whole in this struggle to advance to freedom. To pretend that’s not the case is ahistorical and dangerously naive,” he wrote.
Following the same logic in a (yes, since-deleted) Medium post from 2017, he allayed concerns that his homicidal language qualifies as a call for white genocide:
Killing some white people isn’t genocide; it’s killing some white people. We had to kill some white people to get out of slavery. Maybe if we’d killed more during the 20th century we still wouldn’t talk about racialized voter disenfranchisement and housing, education, and employment discrimination. This should not be controversial.
Osei-Frimpong’s commentary didn’t ignore the gender debate. “Masculinity is a form of Whiteness,” he tweeted in December.
We know that men who aspire to manliness aspire to a quality that is really close to Whiteness in America. That’s why really good arguments can be made that masculinity is a form of Whiteness. And the aspiration for manhood reinforces White supremacy. The same for womanhood.
— Irami Osei-Frimpong (@IramiOF) December 9, 2018
But the university began to reconsider its position after a video shot by a student in Osei-Frimpong’s classes showed the TA dismissively brushing off attempts to question him about his past statements. Specifically, the student pressed him on calling whites “sociopaths” and “Chick Fil-A employees” on his YouTube channel.
Me confronting a professor at UGA that referred to white people as autistic sociopaths and last week, tweeted that whites people should be killed. #uga #dawgs #gapol @benshapiro @FoxNews pic.twitter.com/JFavQ8ZR14
— Andrew Lawrence (@YoungGaGOP) January 16, 2019
Osei-Frimpong responded that, social studies require the use of “stereotypes if you’re going to talk about justice as a group.” Seemingly referring to his own stereotypes of whites, he added that it is permissible to speak in “generalities that have been accepted.”
The student, Andrew Lawrence, responded by sending an email to the university’s alumni, imploring them to take cut their donations to the school.
In reaction, UGA issued another, pithier statement.
— UGA (@universityofga) January 21, 2019
“The university has been vigorously exploring all available legal options,” the statement read. “Racism has no place on our campus and we condemn the advocacy or suggestion of violence in any form. We are seeking guidance from the Office of the Attorney General as to what actions we can legally consider in accordance with the First Amendment.”
Blake Aued, a reporter for Athens, Georgia local magazine Flagpole, pushed back against the outrage, which she called “overblown.” Though she agrees that OSei-Frimpong has employed “questionable rhetoric,” she nevertheless disputes that his remarks constitute “a threat of violence.”
“Many white people have died for black communities to be whole in this struggle for freedom. Heather Heyer. Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. Over 300,000 Union soldiers. He stated a fact,” wrote Aued.
Though, academically-speaking, she might have a point, she avoided addressing the underlying issue that riled up critics: In many elite institutions, a violent, radicalized vitriol directed at white people elicits little-to-no urgency to act, especially compared to the uproar that can be raised by a single teenager smirking at a person of color.