The University of Central Florida is currently investigating one of its professors for disputing the Black Lives Matter narrative on Twitter.
Charles Negy, a psychology professor at the school, received harsh criticism for sharing critical critiques of the systemic racism narrative that the university described as “completely counter to UCF’s values.”
Without directly calling the professor’s comments racist, UCF’s official Twitter page acknowledged the controversy surrounding his tweets on June 4 by saying “[b]eing actively anti-racist means calling out and confronting racist comments.”
“We are aware of Charles Negy’s recent personal Twitter posts, which are completely counter to UCF’s values. We are reviewing this matter further while being mindful of the First Amendment.”
Being actively anti-racist means calling out and confronting racist comments. We are aware of Charles Negy’s recent personal Twitter posts, which are completely counter to UCF’s values. We are reviewing this matter further while being mindful of the First Amendment.
— UCF (@UCF) June 4, 2020
The tweets in question, put out by Negy on June 3, pointed to the disparities in crime rates and educational achievement among African-Americans, suggesting that addressing those problems directly may be a solution to many of the community’s problems.
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
— Charles Negy (@CharlesNegy) June 3, 2020
“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 said in a since-deleted tweet, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“This article is spot on (will infuriate folks). 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 said in an additional tweet the Tampa Bay Times reported, referencing an article suggesting that America needs to “treat blacks as human beings with free will.”
On Sunday, a group about 60 UCF students and alumni gathered on campus to protest Negy’s comments and demand his firing, the Orlando Sentinel reported. The protesters were joined by a group of UCF officials, including President Alexander Cartwright, who told the crowd that the university had received “a significant number of reports” about Negy and his alleged misconduct.
Negy spoke with The Western Journal via email about his tweets and the calls for his firing.
He began by pointing out that as a psychology professor at UCF, one of his main focuses is the behavioral differences between different racial, ethnic and cultural groups. Pointing out those differences is not racist, but rather a means of finding solutions to the various problems that each one of these communities faces.
“May I first start off by saying I teach a course in which I pose difficult and polemic questions about cultural and racial matters. In that course, we critically examine Whites, Hispanics, African Americans, Native Americans and Arabs/Muslims. Most of what I cover is ‘neutral,’ but I do reserve a section at the end of each group where I address challenges or problems that disproportionately affect the group being discussed,” Negy said.
“No matter how dispassionate I try to address some of those challenges, people from all groups, including Whites, occasionally are offended. UCF is a university. It’s not a social gathering,” he went on.
“The purpose of a university is to explore and debate ideas — even ideas that make some people uncomfortable; even ideas that some people find offensive. Twitter is a different ball game. You only have a few lines to raise questions, reply to someone else’s tweet, or ‘debate’ someone. And then you move on. There’s minimal ability to say things in a thoughtful way, or elaborate on one’s comments with context.
“I could have worded, perhaps, my controversial tweets differently, but there remains legitimate points embedded in those tweets. Not to mention, my personal twitter account is my business, not UCF’s.”
When asked if school administrators have offered any thoughtful discussion or debate over the claims he had made, Negy said school officials do not promote an exchange of ideas on this topic, but rather prefer to shut down all counterpoints they deem to be inconsistent with the school’s values.
“UCF (Administrators, our Department Chair, and various other minority organizations) have publicly criticized me and those tweets, calling the tweets ‘racist’ and ‘vile.’ Administrators continue meeting with mostly, though not exclusively, African American students, reassuring them that the University ‘hears their voices’ and strongly condemn my tweets, and will not tolerate any racial mistreatment on campus,” Negy told The Western Journal.
“Administrators have never used the opportunity to educate those students on the purpose of a university, the importance of free speech and free exchange of ideas, and how if students are offended by my tweets, they should not believe they are entitled to never be offended and they have a right to express their views about my tweets. But the students simply keep proclaiming they do not feel ‘safe’ on campus knowing I’m on campus, which is absurd. I’ve been there 22 years. I’ve never racially mistreated anyone, much less threatened anyone.”
The source of the problem, Negy said, is the fact that “U.S. universities have become cesspools of ideologically progressive group-think.”
“Everyone must worship with religious-like zealotry the ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’ mantra or else be smeared as a ‘racist.’ Diversity may have merit, but the way it is enforced on everyone is divisive. We fight over everything both on and off campus in the broader society. Various groups are convinced they are perpetual victims of ‘white supremacy,’ and if their group, on average, does not achieve as much as other groups, the only explanation must be ‘white racism.’ As if members of these social groups have no agency of their own to make good life decisions (such as staying in school, trying to be the best student possible, avoiding crime, drugs, etc.),” the professor said.
“The university where I teach is typical to almost all U.S. universities. They perpetually nurture this narrative about how oppressed minority groups are at the hands of Whites, thereby fostering the notion that white people are enemies and are out to harm everyone else. And white students and faculty either buy into that narrative and promote it themselves or are too afraid to challenge it.”
Negy pointed out that he has more experience studying other cultures than the majority of his colleagues at UCF. In his opinion, their rush to judgment of his alleged bigotry is misplaced and ill-informed.
“No one, and I mean no one, has reached out to me to express any concern over how I’ve been publicly vilified. To the contrary, several faculty have publicly condemned my tweets and called me ‘ignorant’ and have questioned why I teach the course ‘Cross-Cultural Psychology.’ Could it be because I’m biethnic and a sexual minority? Or because I’ve lived in two other countries besides the U.S., and have traveled to over 40 countries including Africa, Asia, Europe, and all over Latin America?”
“Most (not all, but most) of my colleagues don’t realize how provincial they are in that they have never been to any non-White country except perhaps when they were on a cruise. By contrast, amid many hate messages from students — many of whom have never even had me as their professor, I’ve also received many supportive messages from past students, including offering to communicate with UCF Administrators on my behalf.”
“If by ‘racist’ they mean having hatred or disdain for entire class of people, they are grossly mistaken. It’s a shame they are so mistaken in their view that if one says anything critical — as in legitimate criticism — about any social group, that means prima facie that the person is ‘racist.’ I hold the view that all groups are equals. As such, they are subject to criticism just like, say, Whites are. No group should be a sacred cow.
“For my progressive/liberal colleagues who think African Americans, as a group, ought never to be scrutinized, I think that says more about them than me.”
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