Spineless New Jersey College Fires Black Professor For Expressing an Angry Opinion on Television

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Former Essex County College professor and political commentator Lisa Durden was fired from her professorship, because she went on a talk show and expressed a valid opinion in too loud and angry a voice.

Durden appeared on Fox News with Tucker Carlson earlier this month to defend Black Lives Matter holding a blacks-only Memorial Day event. Carlson, in his infuriating and purposely obtuse way, asked Durden to “explain” why an organization that is supposedly about not singling out people because of their race “thinks it’s okay” to single people out by race by holding a blacks-only event.

Woman after my own heart, she went right for the snark place, because snark is all this guy deserves. She said, “What I have to say to that is boo-hoo-hoo. You white people are angry because you couldn’t use your ‘white privilege’ card to get invited to the Black Lives Matter’s all-black Memorial Day celebration.”

Seriously. As if Tucker Carlson or his ilk would’ve set foot at a Black Lives Matter event even if it were open to all races. Please. It’s only upsetting because white people aren’t allowed to go, not because Carlson or Fox News actually care about going. Yet, Carlson continued to put on his show of mock offense, while at the same time trying to vilify this woman who was simply pointing out a glaring truth in a loud voice, calling her “hostile and separatist and crazy.”

He then had the nerve to say, “You’re demented actually. You’re sick and what you’re saying is disgusting and if you were a Nazi I would say the same thing to you.” Well THAT didn’t take long. When in doubt, compare someone to the Nazis, no matter how egregious the comparison might be.

I wonder if Carlson knows any of the guys who got all butthurt about the women-only screenings of Wonder Woman. Who am I kidding, he probably was one of those guys.

First, marginalized groups often need their own spaces in order to feel safe, thanks to the effects of institutionalized hatred. Men don’t need men-only spaces. White people don’t need white-only spaces. You know why? Because society is basically one giant “white men only” space. Having a whites-only or men-only anything is just redundant.

But second, (and this is something you’d think would make sense to Conservatives at Fox News), private organizations are free to limit their membership and events however they like. That’s why there can be a Boy Scouts and a Girl Scouts. That’s why a Ku Klux Klan is still allowed to exist. That’s why houses of worship don’t have to marry people they don’t want to marry. And all of this is why we need the law and public institutions to be on the side of  justice and equality.

Which is why what happened next is so disappointing. Bowing to pressure from skittish parents and students who couldn’t handle seeing a black, female professor getting snarky with a white man, Essex County College fired Durden shortly after her appearance. According to the Washington Post, “Anthony E. Munroe, Essex County College president, said the administration was ‘immediately inundated with feedback from students, faculty and prospective students and their families expressing frustration, concern and even fear that the views expressed by a College employee (with influence over students) would negatively impact their experience on the campus.

‘In consideration of the College’s mission, and the impact that this matter has had on the College’s fulfillment of its mission, we cannot maintain an employment relationship with the adjunct.'”

To quote Ms. Durden. Boo-hoo.

These are college students, not babies. If they can’t handle someone expressing a strong opinion, one that is based in actual facts about systemic racism in America, how are they functioning anywhere else in their lives? What’s hilarious is that it’s likely these same people who would complain about trigger warnings in schools, because the students who request them are being “overly-sensitive.” Never mind that trigger warnings are just that, a warning—not censorship, whereas this is a case of an institution firing an employee for voicing a loud fact about racism.

They claim to be worried about the students’ learning, but all they’ve taught students by doing this is that they have no spine. That sure, it’s all very well and good to talk about not being racist, but that when push comes to shove, it’s completely okay to throw a black, female employee under the bus, because she makes too many people uncomfortable by pointing out their privilegenot by actively hating white people, but simply pointing out the fact that they have privilege.

Apparently, this observation is too much for a lot of white people to hear.  Apparently, it’s up to women and people of color to make sure they say things in a palatable, polite way at all times, no matter how hurt they are or how infuriating the injustice, otherwise white people can’t be bothered to listen.

Or maybe that’s not what Essex County College has taught their students at all. Maybe what they’ve taught them is…that they don’t actually care much about racism to begin with. That white people don’t need to listen. Probably because of that privilege they have that they’re scared to talk about.

(via CNN.com, image: screencap/CNN)

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Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.