We Stand in Solidarity With Professor Johnny Williams of Trinity College
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Over the past few days, Dr. Johnny Williams, Sociology Professor at Trinity College, has been the target of racist telephone calls, emails, messages, and slurs attacking his integrity and scholarship. Such hate speech is in response to comments he made on his Facebook Page in which he spoke out against white supremacy. Professor Williams is a brilliant sociologist, critical race theorist, author and beloved professor. He has been at Trinity College since 1996.
In his Facebook comments, Dr. Williams briefly references an intentionally provocative opinion piece entitled “Let Them Fucking Die”, which was posted on Medium. Son of Baldwin, the author of the piece, calls out those who commit violence against marginalized people and cautions the oppressed against “extend[ing] a hand to the person with an ax waiting to chop it off,” as he wrote in a later comment. Professor Williams included the hashtag #LetThemFuckingDie in his comment as a provocative way to get readers to pay attention to his own points on white supremacy.
Professor Williams’ words have been taken out of context by media sources such as Campus Reform, a site which ironically claims to promote free speech on campuses. In reality, Campus Reform targets professors who call attention to systems of oppression such as white supremacy. As an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education describes, they consider it a “victory” when a professor is fired. Such a goal reflects their actual agenda: to silence these academics.
More effort is being put into criticizing how Professor Williams presented his message than condemning the violent threats being sent to him. This is similar to calling out Black Lives Matter protests; we spend more time criticizing the protesters than the oppressive systems they are exposing. The exact system Professor Williams has called out in his posts, a system of violence and bigotry toward marginalized people, is violently retaliating against him. We need to stick up for him.
Themis Klarides and George Logan, both alumni of Trinity College, have called for Professor Williams to be removed from his post. They accuse Williams of holding the view that “white people in general need to die” and cite this as grounds for his removal. This claim misrepresents Williams and his intentions. We stand firmly against their opinion.
We call upon President Joanne Berger-Sweeney, the President’s Cabinet, and the Board of Trustees to recognize how important professors like Johnny Williams are to our community. He encourages students to challenge one another’s opinions and even question their own. Removing him would threaten the values of free speech that President Berger-Sweeney notes are so important to Trinity College in her statement on June 21st. We condemn violence in all its forms, especially violence against a member of our own community. We stand in solidarity with Dr. Johnny Williams.
A Group of Trinity Students, Faculty, Staff & Alumni
(This petition was written by a group of current Trinity students and Alumni)
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