Charles Negy is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Central Florida, who touched off a firestorm with a series of Tweets last week about so-called “black privilege” — Tweets that were widely condemned as racist.
Negy published the controversial comments amid nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody and the backlash extended to calls for his firing. One commentator said that Negy’s “racism has been an open secret” on the UCF campus for years.
Here’s what you need to know about Charles Negy:
1. Negy Questioned the Existence of ‘Systematic Racism’ & Said That ‘Black Privilege Is Real’ in a Series of Tweets on June 3.
Many were outraged on June 3, when Negy compared African Americans to Asian Americans, using the two groups to question the existence of “systematic racism.”
He followed that up with a Tweet promoting an article that claimed “Blacks are our sacred cows,” acknowledging that the article may “infuriate folks,” but insisting that “black privilege” means African Americans are “missing out on much needed feedback.”
Negy went on to claim that “no one cares” when black teens “needlessly stab to death a white college student,” while when a white person kills an African American, “the world comes to an end.”
He also on June 2 retweeted a video in which a white woman is approached by someone claiming to be with “the company” Black Lives Matter and asked to get on her knees to atone for her white privilege.
“Hilarious,” Negy wrote. “Okay Whiteys. Get on your knees and start atoning for being white. While you’re at it, start sharing your paycheck with random [person of color] and donate your house to a POC.”
Outrage quickly followed online. One man wrote that his daughter, a high school senior, would not attend UCF as long as Negy worked there. A woman claiming to be a former student of Negy also wrote that he was judgmental, offensive and “extremely condescending” in the classroom.
A Change.org petition followed, with more than 24,000 signing it as of Monday morning.
2. Negy Is a Tenured Associate Professor, Who Wrote a Book Called ‘White Shaming: Bullying Based On Prejudice, Virtue-Signaling, And Ignorance’
Negy has taught at UCF since 1998, according to his biography on the college’s website. His areas of research include the impact of race and ethnicity on how people perceive domestic violence, social identity theory vs. multicultural theory in college students and “comparing the marital relationships of Mexican couples with relationships of Mexican American couples.”
He is the author of “White Shaming: Bullying Based On Prejudice, Virtue-Signaling, And Ignorance,” which, according to its description, argues that “white shaming” is a form of bullying and attacks so-called “virtue signaling” among whites. The title is currently unavailable on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Negy claimed on Saturday that he was a victim of censorship and encouraged his followers to complain to Amazon.
3. University Leadership Is Looking at Negy’s Comments, & People Nationwide Are Calling for His Firing
Leadership at UCF Tweeted on June 4 that they were aware of Negy’s posts and the outrage they caused, adding that they were reviewing the situation, “while being mindful of the First Amendment.” UCF President Alexander Cartwright and other university leaders also released a statement condemning Negy’s words as “wrong” and “painful,” the Tampa Bay Times reported.
“At a time when so many of our community members are hurting, we are disgusted by the racist posts one of our faculty members has shared on his personal Twitter account,” they wrote. “At all times, we uphold the principles of academic freedom, but we have a responsibility to denounce intolerance. Racism is an undeniable reality across our society, and people of color frequently experience overt and covert racism. That is why Negy’s words are not only wrong, but particularly painful.”
Carwright also held a virtual town hall, at which he said the university would “take action” if they found evidence of discrimination in Negy’s classroom, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
4. Current & Former Professors & Students Have Expressed Outrage — One Professor Said He Was ‘Ashamed’ to Be Part of UCF’s Psychology Department
Eva Oliveri, who started the petition seeking Negy’s firing, alleged that Negy has also engaged in transphobia and sexism on Twitter.
“While he has a right to free speech, he does not have a right to dehumanize students of color and other minority groups, which is a regular occurrence in his classroom,” Oliveri wrote. “By allowing him to continue in his position, UCF would simply be empowering another cog in the machine of systemic racism.”
Meanwhile, Robert Dvorak, who Heavy confirmed is an associate professor of psychology at UCF, Tweeted that he was “ashamed to be associated with my department” and urged any students who felt they had been discriminated against to contact the university’s integrity line.
In a later Tweet, Dvorak said that Negy had unspecified past issues and was removed from a program because of them.
Heavy reached out to Dvorak for more information, but he was unavailable Monday.
Maribeth Ehasz, Vice President of Student Development and Enrollment Services at UCF, said during a June 4 virtual town hall for students that she condemned Negy’s statements.
“Professor Negy’s comments are coming at a time when there is already so much rightful anguish and anger over the senseless murder of George Floyd and others who have suffered in police custody,” Ehasz said. “I want to assert that black lives matter.”
5. Negy Defends Himself, Saying It’s Impossible To Discuss Certain Issues Without Some People Being Offended …
or ‘Feigning To Be Offended’
Negy told Heavy by email that he is “pro-equality,” but there is no “easy way” or “gentle way” to address difficult problems without offending people — or people “feigning to be offended.”
“In class, I prepare students a lot for what they are about to experience … Some will get offended. But that is not my intentions,” he said, adding that Twitter is a “different can of worms.”
“Things are said, often callously … The problem is some people disapprove of me expressing unfavorable things about their group,” he said. “I get that … If we can’t address our most pressing social challenges with regard to race relations and air how different people view matters differently, we’ll never solve America’s “big race problem.” Blaming non-White groups’ challenges on “white privilege” (or whites) will not solve anything.
Negy also told the New York Times by email that he had no plans to resign.
“Despite what so many ‘haters’ are saying about me on Twitter, I’ve never said ANYTHING critical of George Floyd,” Negy wrote, according to the Times. “The man was murdered in cold blood by a man who was a total sadist. So cruel.”