Professor Criticized Over Racist Postings Is Hired By Rhodes College


Rhodes College
Rhodes College
There is a new debate over impact of social media on academics. We previously debated the status of Boston University sociology professor Saida Grundy after a series of racist postings on social media. Boston University retained Grundy while many asked what would have happened if a white professor had posted the inverse comments about the “problem” of black males on campuses. Now a Memphis professor, Zandria Robinson, has triggered the same debate after denouncing whites and insisting that “whiteness is most certainly and inevitably terror.” However, in Robinson’s case, she was rehired by Rhodes College, which seemed to view her controversial comments as a positive element supporting her appointment. Some have criticized the decision and asked again if a white professor had called blackness a “terror,” if those comments would have been deemed a positive intellectual perspective.

Robinson taught sociology at University of Memphis until resigning on June 11th after her social media postings were made public. She said that she did not want her daughter attending school with “snotty privileged whites” and that “whiteness is most certainly and inevitably terror.” She added that there was a need for “thinkpieces about how more mental health services could prevent white people from acting how they are conditioned to act.”

Rhodes College heralded Robinson last week “As a leading scholar and author in the areas of race, class, gender, culture, and the South, Dr. Zandria Robinson’s comments are sometimes provocative, controversial, and debatable.”

In the meantime, University of Memphis spokeswoman Gabrielle Maxey insisted that Robinson was not fired and that the university did not force her out over her racist comments. Rather, she decided to resign.

The debate continues over free speech and academic status. I tend to oppose discipline or terminations over public comments so long as these academics do not show racism or intolerance in the treatment of students. I am particularly concerned when these comments are tied to the academic work of faculty on race issues and politics. My primary concern is that there should not be a double standard. When a white professor is targeted for such comments in the future, will Professors Robinson and Grundy be the first to step forward in defense of their free speech? I would hope so.

41 thoughts on “Professor Criticized Over Racist Postings Is Hired By Rhodes College”

  1. Hello. My name is Captain Obvious.

    YES, there is a double standard in general and academia in particular.

    Racism against whites is considered brave and applauded, while racism against blacks is grounds for termination.

    BOTH are wrong, but the former is encouraged in hiring practices, and contributes to a hostile learning environment.

    Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can dispense with all surprise the next time this is in the news, and skip straight to the discussions on how to combat it.

    What are the consequences of racism in academia? Can students sue? Will parents boycott the schools? This has to hit the school financially for them to do the right thing.

    As long as nothing happens to them, academia will not change its behavior.

  2. Both of these twits got their 15 minutes just as they hoped. When some odd “professor” has nothing worthwhile to say, they say something loud & stupid…and bingo, national news. Look at me! 15, 14, 13, 12, …. 0.

  3. She has a lot of work in progress or invited, but nothing actually paid for and published.

  4. She should be let go just for teaching sociology. What a waste of students time.

  5. “Rhodes College heralded Robinson last week “As a leading scholar and author in the areas of race, class, gender, culture, and the South…

    Indeed, what an impressive body of work.
    Most of these have not yet been published, but I’m sure she’ll get to them.

    Strangely, the 2014 publication “Gotta Sing on the Beats They Bring Us” seems to be in an online journal which apparently doesn’t really exist yet, even though page numbers are provided for the reference.
    And it’s mostly the transcript of a 2012 presentation, seen here on YouTube.

    But those are just Evil Cracker Standards of the Patriarchal Hegemony, so, no matter.

    “Zandria Felice Robinson, PhD

    2014. This Ain’t Chicago: Race, Class, and Regional Identity in the Post-Soul South,
    University of North Carolina Press.
    2014. Sandra L. Barnes, Zandria F. Robinson, and Earl Wright II, editors. Re-Positioning Race:
    Prophetic Research in a Post-Racial Obama Age. SUNY Press.
    Book Chapters (Published, Forthcoming, and In Progress)
    2016. “Intersectionality.” Invited chapter in progress for The Handbook of Sociological Theory, a
    textbook under contract with Springer Press. Seth Abrutyn, editor.
    2016. “Dirty South Bohemians: Black Hipsters in Post-Soul Memphis.” Invited chapter in
    progress for The Bohemian South, an edited collection under contract with the University
    of North Carolina Press. Shawn Bingham and Lindsey Freeman, editors.
    2015. “Riding the Fourth Wave: Hip-Hop and Black Feminism in the 21st Century Classroom.”
    Invited chapter in Dropping Knowledge: Hip-Hop Pedagogy in the Academy, Black
    Classics Press. Charles Jones and Karin Stanford, editors.
    2009. “Soul Legacies: Hip-Hop and Historicity in Memphis.” Invited chapter in Hip Hop in
    America: A Regional Guide, edited by Mickey Hess. Santa Barbara: ABCCLIO/Greenwood.
    2006. with Wanda Rushing. “Beyond the Veil: Black and White Perspectives on Teaching
    about Racial Inequality.” In African Americans and Whites: Changing Relationships on
    College Campuses, edited by Robert Moore. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

    Journal Articles (Published, Forthcoming, and In Progress)
    2014. “‘Gotta Sing on the Beats They Bring Us’: Gender, Class, and 21st Century Blueswomen’s
    Epistemology.” Issues in Race & Society, 2(1):47-72.
    2015. with Marcus Hunter, Mary Pattillo, and Keeanga Taylor. Introduction to a Special Issue of
    Theory, Culture, and Society: “Problematizing the Urban: Violence and Intervention.”
    2016. with Marcus Hunter. “Chocolate City Sociology,” Annual Review of Sociology 42.
    Encyclopedia Articles
    2011. “Tyler Perry.” In The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Vol 18: Media, edited by
    Margaret Allison Graham and Sharon Monteith. Chapel Hill: University of North
    Carolina Press.
    2010. “Southern Crunk and Hip-Hop Culture.” In The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture,
    Vol 15: Urbanization, edited by Wanda Rushing. Chapel Hill: University of North
    Carolina Press.

    Book Reviews
    Forthcoming. Review of After Civil Rights: Racial Realism in the New American Workplace by
    John D. Skrentny in Contemporary Sociology.
    2014. Review of Black Girls Are From the Future: Essays on Race, Digital Creativity, and Pop
    Culture by Renina Jarmon in Pow

    “Fish, Grits, and All that Pimp Shhh: Soul and Succulence in Southern Hip-Hop.” In preparation
    for submission to a peer-reviewed journal.
    “Home to the South: A Phenomenology of Regional Accomplishment in African American
    Culture.” In preparation for submission to a peer-reviewed journal.
    Soul Power: Sonic Politics and Neighborhood Change in a Southern City. In preparation for
    consideration for publication by an academic press.
    Hard Out Here for a B!tch: Pimpin’ Feminism in the Dirty South. In preparation for
    consideration for publication by a trade press”

  6. DBQ, My old man and I would go to see Yale football games. They had many stuck up students. But, there’s something about the old money of the east coast. You get the older folks w/ old money and many are not stuck up @ all. They are quite secure in who they are. It’s the new money folks, which would comprise a lot of Stanford folks, that are the most stuck up. But, make no mistake, Ivy League kids are really stuck up. My old man would take us to Saratoga in August to the race track. There you had a mingling of folks from Puerto Rican, to ethnic blue collar, to the freakin’ Whitney’s. Now, the old money had their private boxes but the track was very friendly to the poorer folks. They allow you to this day to take in coolers, including beer. They have grills to cook out. They have playgrounds for the kids. Kids got into the track for free. You didn’t have to buy any concessions.

  7. It’s an affront to express an opinion regarding the fear a black may have because of predominantly white student bodies.

    The difference here is that those expressing not only the “fear”, exposing their bigoted remarks are not just students who need to deal with a mixed student body as they will in real life outside the bubble of the University. These people are instructors and teachers who are in a position of authority and control over the students in their classrooms. Position of Authority and able to affect the lives of their students

    If they are so bigoted that they cannot treat each and every student equally, which seems likely giving the hateful bigoted remarks that they have proudly stated, they do not belong in a class room setting. They do not belong in a position of authority.

    I would say the same thing if it were a white professor expressing the same type of bigotry towards any other ethnic group or race.

    If your bigotry is so deep that if effects your ability to do your job…..go find another job.

  8. @ barking dog

    Years and years ago…..When my daughter was researching the colleges that she had been accepted at and/or wanted to attend, we took a field trip with her and three of her friends and drove to examine the colleges first hand as well as the surrounding towns. After all, she was going to live in that area so she’d better like just not the school but the community.

    Coming from a rural area and at that time being a struggling single mom coming off of a bad marriage, we fell into the poor to middle class section of the student body. So white, decidedly middle class and rural.

    She had some great scholarship offerings from all of the schools and would get almost a full ride at any of them (then). We looked at Stanford, UCs Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, Pepperdine, Redlands among other private universities….and a few of the Cal State Colleges. Road trip with 4 senior high school girls OMG.

    She turned down Stanford because the students she met there were snotty, stuck ups. Santa Cruz because it was a hippie loser haven…..although the Banana Slug was attractive as a school mascot 🙂 Eventually, she settled on the one that not only offered her good academic and sports scholarships, but also had a record of most students graduating within a 4 to 5 year period, which had a high percentage who went on to graduate school, which also had a good record of students going on to lucrative careers and which had some very interesting and famous alumni. The community was also a plus. Nice laid back town with families and close to a lot of great recreational opportunities.

    I was, in a way sad, to not see her go to Stanford, but she made the right decision. The stuck up, itshay don’t stink crowd, would not have been a good fit for her since she is about as shy and retiring [not] and opinionated as her mother. She also made the best decision because the school she went to, she made great life long friends and got a start there on her very successful professional career.

    Students who make the bad decision to go to an unsuitable school or waste their time with terrible teachers like the ones mentioned above will suffer the rest of their lives.

    Think carefully. Choose wisely.

  9. It’s an affront to the freedom of speech to arrest someone for flying an ISIS flag.

    It’s an affront to express an opinion regarding the fear a black may have because of predominantly white student bodies.

    Freedom of speech means this but not that.

    Freedom of speech means that but not this.

    The continuous contradictions can only illustrate that those sacred words will always need to be interpreted by the instruments that govern concerning the time, instance, and ideals of the present.

    Perhaps the greatest contribution this professor is making is to remind us of this. We need sh*t disturbers.

  10. @ Chief Consort

    Reddit has/or had an entire sub reddit called Punchable Faces. I think Chris Wetzel is imminently qualified to be included in that sub.

    He has smarmy written all over his face. 🙂

  11. But, we all have our snotty thoughts.

    Four legs good, two legs baaaad! —
    — Animal Farm.

  12. In my prior life as a human I attended a snotty college which had some minorities and some non snotty poor to middle class students. The the notion that some people in life have that their itShay don’t stink gets annoying and unacceptable. So later in my prior life as a human I would have nothing to do with country clubs or social clubs. There is an article today on St. Louis Today which one can find on the web. It is about the Veiled Prophet Society and Veiled Prophet in Saint Louis. They have one image which looks like a hooded klan member but in more recent years they have it looking more like a Muslim than a Klansman and it is not just the Prophet himself who has the veil but a few associates on stage. The group is made up of itShay don’t stink Saint Louisans who want to lord it over the masses and they hold a festival each year. It used to be called the Veiled Prophet Parade and Festival and now it is called Fair Saint Louis. If you go to watch bring eggs and throw them at the veiled heirs to the throne. This kind of apCray needs to be brought down like the k Confederate Klan Flag at the Capitol in SC.

    This lady yakked about in the article here is all huffy about snotty whites but if truth be told she is probably thought of as a snotty black by many blacks. It is a snot thing. Snot and those who think that their itShay don’t stink. This is stronger in England and much of Europe than in America. In America it generally persists more in the Eastern half and more so East of the Alleghanys. In fact New York is the worst. Boston is up there. Chappaquidick and all those Bush and Kennedy hangouts on vacation days take the cake. “My bruder Bobby.” and all that. Those East Coasters can not even speak the King’s English. It is all “turdy turd and a turd.” As a law blog I must comment on the voices heard from the bench on CSPAN when they play Supreme Court oral arguments. Jeso.

    But. I am just a dog. We dogs bark without twang. We walk on four legs without swagger. We go to country clubs only if we are guide dogs for blind humans. When we go to church with our blind humans we do not artFay. We speak Pig Latin on social media with civility rules like this blog. I do know that my itShay does stink and that is why I might leave an urdTay in some creeps yard once in a while.

  13. I do feel bad for her because Rhodes College is 77 percent white (*spit*), so now she’s going to be surrounded by a LOT of terror, and her PMDD is going to flare.

    I mean, just look at the fool teaching at Rhodes College about white privilege:
    Chris Wetzel | Associate Professor
    Research Interests
    * Causes and consequences of becoming aware of white privilege.

    Pray for her.

  14. Pogo, JT has some Pollyanna in him. While working cases keeps him somewhat connected to the real world, being in academia counters that reality.

  15. “When a white professor is targeted for such comments in the future, will Professors Robinson and Grundy be the first to step forward in defense of their free speech?”

    More likely they will be the ones leading the targeting.

  16. It is silly to think that such people will defend others right to freedom of speech. In my many years experience, they are only concerned about themselves and their group, not others. They will be more than happy to denounce and demand the head of those who disagree with them

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