An Emory University philosophy professor is being met with "white racist vitriol" following the publication of his op-ed titled, "Dear White America." His "letter of love", which called on readers to "accept the truth of what it means to be white in a society created for white people," made him, what he calls, a "target of racist hatred."
After his article was published in The New York Times, Professor George Yancy received hundreds of emails, phone messages, and letters "filled with racist vitriol" and reading them was a "traumatic experience," according to Yancy. The university assured him that his "academic freedom was protected" and supported him with increased security. He was "particularly sickened" by postal mail, handwritten and signed, where students wrote things such as, "I'm a racist? How dare you call me that! You are a racist and, hey, since blacks call each other [the "n" word] I'm taking the liberty of doing the same. Either the word is offensive and taboo or it isn't."
Others took a stab at his academic bona fides, claiming that "This coon is a philosopher in the same way Martin King was a PhD and the same way that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are 'Reverends': Just another new way to pimp." Another student left a voicemail that said, "...I am a white American citizen. You are the one who is the racist against white people, evidently. A professor – I bet you got it [your PhD] through a mail order."
Yancy read one particularly disturbing, handwritten letter aloud to his graduate philosophy seminar, where they had been discussing race and embodiment. Upon doing so, the professor felt a "rush of unspeakable anger" and stepped out of the classroom. While at that moment in time he wrote that he wished he'd said "F--- it all! It is not worth it. White people will never value my humanity..." he instead returned into the classroom, where a silence had fallen over the room and he observed that most of his student's faces were turned down after witnessing his suffering. That "space will never be the same," said Yancy.