Trinity College professor speaks out about racist Facebook post

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Johnnie Williams is an associate professor of sociology at Trinity College who may have learned a lesson about the power of social media.

A recent Facebook post generated death threats and threats against his college that forced campus to shut down yesterday.

His original post included a link to a blog article that has a title that suggests white people should be killed. It was called: “Let Them All — and then an expletive is used — Die.”

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That sparked an uproar. Many people have demanded that he should be fired. Williams went back to Facebook to respond to the furor.

Here is his entire response:

“For the entirety of my adult life I have worked to inform my students, colleagues, and the public about the dire and destructive character of oppression and worked to push all of us towards making the world a more just, equitable and humane place.

The recent displays of hate and explicit death threats I have received via email and telephone in response to my recent posts are par for the course in the work that I do but this attack is at a level of vitriol and hatred in excess of what I have ever experienced.

This response seems to be a concerted campaign to attack not just what *they think* I said in my post but to attack my integrity, scholarship, teaching, department, and college. The publicity it is receiving also seems to be an organized warning to all others who want to speak out. This seems to be a national drive of intimidation of professors which all colleges and universities should be concerned about.

It is evident to anyone who carefully reads my posts on Facebook and Twitter that I did not call for the death of all self-identified ‘whites.’ I merely attached the hashtag to my post derived from a blog article written by Son of Baldwin entitled “Let Them All **** Die.” This was an admittedly provocative move to get readers to pay attention to my reasoned, reasonable, and yes angry argument.

I posted my comments on social media to draw the attention of the readers to the current dire state of white supremacy in the nation.

We can debate whether social media has expanded, contracted, or perverted the public sphere. We all know that its anonymity and lack of face to face accountability makes meanness and ad hominem attacks easy to do.

I did not and do not use it in that way. My detractors have.”

Because of the threats to the college, security has been beefed up. There are more campus security crews on duty and more patrols by Hartford police officers. The school held a meeting today with many student groups.

Related Content: Trinity College to resume normal operations after threats prompted closing

“We wanted to gather with the community to talk about our decisions that were made yesterday in terms of the threats we received and how we’ve responded and to answer questions from the community and let them share their feelings with us as well,” said Joe DiChristina, Vice President for Student Affairs at Trinity College. “I think it’s important for communities to come together during a time when there’s stress.”
The stress has prompted many people — including some state lawmakers — to call for Professor Williams’ dismissal. The President of Trinity College issued a statement to the campus community saying she does not tolerate hate speech in any form and she will consult with others to see if any school policies were broken before any decision is made.