“Sexist By Virtue Of Being A Male”: Emory Professor Under Fire For Views On Race and Gender Bias

Emory Philosophy Professor George Yancy has attracted considerable attention this week over his writings and comments on race and his suggestions for teaching white students. Yancy is under fire for telling his students that he believes not only in “safe spaces” for non-white students but “dangerous spaces” for white students. It is part of his view of “white privilege” and his effort to prompt students “to acknowledge their inherent racism and fight actively against it.”  Yancy insists that all white people are inherently racist and all men are inherently sexist.

Yancy has railed against the “norm” of “whiteness” in our society.  As a result, he insists that most white students “have never had to think of themselves as different or problematic.”

The Emory Wheel reported that Yancy maintains that “although he does not intentionally try to oppress or objectify women, he is a sexist by virtue of being a male.” Thus, he argued that “at the end of the day the best that I can be is an anti-sexist sexist. I fight against sexism everyday of my life, to the best that I can.”  He then extends that analysis to his white students and argues “[t]he best that [a white person] can become is an anti-racist racist.”

Yancy notably does little to really explain why all men are inherently sexist any more than explaining why women are not.  Indeed, Yancy states in  a 2013 op-ed  that

“There are others who will say, “Why isn’t Yancy telling black people to be honest about the violence in their own black neighborhoods?” Or, “How can Yancy say that all white people are racists?” If you are saying these things, then you’ve already failed to listen. I come with a gift. You’re already rejecting the gift that I have to offer. This letter is about you. Don’t change the conversation.”

This is not an argument but simply an accusation. The very response is simply dismissed as proof of the point of sexism.  It is both convenient and transparent.  The “gift” most academics prefer is a reasoned argument, not a series of affirmative statements followed by a rejection of any counter argument as proof of sexism and denial.

The notion of all men as inherently sexist and all whites as inherently racist is deeply troubling for a teacher who is incorporating such views into his classes.  That concern is then magnified by the pedagogical effort to create “dangerous spaces” for whites. The treatment of white students differently would not be tolerated in this way for other students.

In his oped, Yancy rejects virtually any beliefs or practices that would show that a white person is not a racist.

Don’t tell me about how many black friends you have. Don’t tell me that you are married to someone of color. Don’t tell me that you voted for Obama. Don’t tell me that I’mthe racist. Don’t tell me that you don’t see color. Don’t tell me that I’m blaming whites for everything. To do so is to hide yet again. You may have never used the N-word in your life, you may hate the K.K.K., but that does not mean that you don’t harbor racism and benefit from racism.

Yancy’s view cuts off any serious retort or response from white students beyond accepting their premise that they are racist.

In the end, I would still defend Yancy’s right to teach his theories with the caveat that his advocacy of putting white students into special spaces goes not further than a pedagogical practice in a relevant course on racism.

When Yancy speaks of creating “dangerous spaces,” I do not take that term (as some) as meaning that he abuses white students but tries to get them to experience what he sees as the discomfort of non-whites in society.  However, in his writings to other professors, Yancy encourages faculty who do not teach race related courses to “call out implicit instances of white privilege when they see them.” The problem is how he defines such white privilege and inherent racism.  We recently discussed this difficulty in the controversial practice of “progressive stacking.”

Professor Yancy does offer interesting insights but they tend to be more rhetorical than analytical in my view. Indeed, his  outcome determinative and conclusory form of argument is itself a worthy subject of classroom discussion.  He denounces objectifying groups while doing precisely that with groups like men and whites.  These writings fall, in my view, considerably short of meaningful analysis. It is certainly emotive and thought-provoking but in the end it offers little beyond categorical statements and the “gift” of self-defining conclusions.


47 thoughts on ““Sexist By Virtue Of Being A Male”: Emory Professor Under Fire For Views On Race and Gender Bias”

  1. As psychologist and Nobel Prize-winner Daniel Kahneman said (his book is “Thinking Fast and Slow”), EVERYONE has unconscious biases. That includes blacks. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a black man, is the most important anti-black person I know of.

    Yancy, though, has taken his bias corrective to the ultimate and ridiculous end.

  2. What a racist piece of ****. How do these people get these positions in the first place? I am legitimately curious. He is certainly responsible for his own crappy actions and conduct, but the rest of it falls squarely on administration. Why we won’t address that or withold tuition is beyond me.

  3. I’d like to read the professor’s writings without the cherry picking of quotes. He may have a problem with how he chooses to deliver his message, but I wouldn’t throw it out on the basis of selected quotes. I also wouldn’t expect his views to have any acceptance or even a fair hearing on this blog.

    1. I’d like to read the professor’s writings without the cherry picking of quotes.

      Nothing is stopping you. Unless Yancy also said, Sarcasm Off, then what possible quote could Yancy have said that would make You may have never used the N-word in your life, you may hate the K.K.K., but that does not mean that you don’t harbor racism and benefit from racism. not sound like the racist he condemns others to be?

    2. Ha ha ha. Google Scholar alone produces more than 70 citations to his work.

      A critic of the magazine writer Ta-Nehisi Coates said the man has one subject: American blackness. If that isn’t a subject you’re much interested in, you’re out of luck with TNC. GoogleScholar is not the most reliable producer of bibliography, but I take it as indicative of what Prof. Yancy writes about. He really has one subject: American blackness (sometimes approached indirectly by chuffering about ‘whiteness’). Dozens of articles over a period of nearly 20 years and the number produced on metaphysics, logic, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, philosophy of science, jurisprudence, political philosophy, philosophy of language, philosophy of religion, Ancient philosophy, Medieval philosophy, German Idealism, analytical philosophy, &c. sums to approximately zero.

  4. Yancy is a provocateur, and he knows how to get our attention. I never heard of him but, as an academic, we can expect he’ll be signing copies of his new book pretty soon. The danger is if he wants us to take “safe” and “dangerous” places literally, and all sorts of power plays can come from that. Still, at this point, he’s only doing what Sigmund Freud did, and that worked out for him.

    1. That is essentially what Jim Crowe laws sought to do and personally, I had hoped we had grown as a species since then. Really tired of hearing this kind of bs from privileged people in privileged positions. Academia isn’t worthy of the name anymore.

  5. According to Dr. Yancy’s CV at Emory.edu, his research areas include critical philosophy of race and critical whiteness theories. How ironic that he can author articles and books on the experience of being white. White philosophy profs who try the reverse get called all sorts of colorful names here in Has-been-ia (love that name!).

  6. As this “BS” gains momentum in this country, what’s 5 years from now going to look like?

  7. Forgive me if I am wrong about this but aren’t professors supposed to research and have facts to back up their conclusions before they announce them. I propose a bloviation spectrum with zero being a well researched and factually supported argument and ten being Rochelle Gutierrez. I would rate Yancy a 9.5 on this scale.

  8. Sir, as I am sure that you are aware, this Professor is an idiot a bigot and a fraud as well as just plain ignorant. With teachers like this it is no wonder that people are coming our of school clueless to reality. I am going to reblog this article for you Sir.

    1. David Benson – I think the standard Bedlam padded room would do to start with.

  9. I don’t see college as a person’s personal therapy, so I cannot blame any kid who chooses to avoid colleges or professors who feel it is their special mission to place the kids in a dangerous place or who comes at teaching from a position of bias and bigotry towards that kid.

    We don’t need no “education”.
    We don’t need no thought control.
    No dark sarcasm in the classroom.
    Teachers, leave the kids alone.
    Hey, Teachers, leave the kids alone!

  10. This is one of the few articles I’ve read here that the subject matter made me so angry I could not bring myself to finish it. This man is such a flaming racist his own hatred will consume any sense of objectivity or morality he might possess.

    Surely he will be among the first to extend what he believes to be his exemplary academic and intellectual credentials to anybody unfortunate enough to suffer being in his presence. Yet despite all of these badges and suffixes affixed to his sullied name, he will remain an imbecile when it comes to common decency and equal in wisdom to any backwoods, knuckle-dragging, KKK yokel.

    He will remain a stain on whatever institution he attaches himself to. He has no business teaching any students much less be given any form of audience.

    1. I think this reflects horribly on Emory, my mother-in-law’s alma mater.

      “Don’t tell me about…”

      This is a philosophy professor in an elite school? Really??? Emory should be ashamed. Absolutely ashamed. Wow.

  11. “Yancy insists that all white people are inherently racist and all men are inherently sexist.” Therefor, he engages in discrimination, bias, and sexism in the workplace, and creates a hostile environment for his students.

    He should be fired. His opinions affect his job performance and leaves the school open to discrimination lawsuits.

  12. There’s a very simple way to defeat imbeciles like this: ask them to provide very specific examples, particularly as they apply to you. Unless you actually are racist and or sexist the SJW will fail, usually leaving in a huff.

    Again, no need to defend yourself, just ask for specifics.

    1. Well, he is supposedly a philosophy professor, but he clearly states his position before engaging him. That sure makes it easy! Could you imagine were we’d be today if this the MO of philosophy through the course of history?

      “I’ll argue my point, but only the way I want to….”

      I actually think I got my son out of thinking like that when he was in 4th grade… so how’s this guy at Emory???

      1. slohrss29 – because he has devolved??? Or the standards have dropped???

        1. Paul, I’ve been arguing (philosophically speaking…) that if evolution is a working theory, then devolution is a resultant necessity. I believe the entropy caused by mundane human interactions over time leads to devolution. You need to have that challenging stimulus to keep evolution of any system going. We ain’t had much of that lately…

          1. slohrss29 – I have posited over the last several years that evolution is only a working theory if you add chaos theory to it. That would also account for devolution.

            1. I’m with you Paul, except that chaos is an extremely complicated ordering, where entropy is the unraveling. Semantic hair-splitting though. Probably easier to say, “things be just screwed-up, and getting worse every day…”

  13. How would he possibly know what ANY white person thinks or feels, much less all of them?

  14. I am sorry professor, but women are both sexist and racist and I am talking women of color, not white women. He may be a sexist pig, but not all men are sexist pigs. He may have to fight his urges every day, but most of us don’t have any urges like his, we just want to go to class, do our job, get to work, get our latte, etc.

    Normally, I would say an unpaid sabbatical would clear his mind, but I think this is too deeply ingrained. He clearly needs to be out of the classroom, although he could give free seminars to grad students. He should not be allowed near undergrads because he might lose control of his sexist nature. Unloosed, he would be a fiery beast in the classroom, hitting on all the co-eds. An academic Harvey Weinstein in the budding. He should not be allowed back into the classroom until 3 board-certified psychiatrists agree he is no longer sexist.

  15. Looks like this buffoon benefited from the push to empty asylums, where former mental patients and janitors were given jobs to teach at universities. Imagine paying tuition to have misfits and loons, like this cretin, teaching your kids. A nightmare.

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