BOSTON » An incoming Boston University professor who called "white college males" a "problem population" and was publicly criticized by the university’s president said on Tuesday she regrets making the remarks.
Black sociology professor Saida Grundy, who completed her doctorate at the University of Michigan last year, had declared on her now-private Twitter account that "white masculinity is THE problem for America’s colleges."
In other recent tweets, she said, "Deal with your white (expletive), white people. slavery is a *YALL* thing," and "Every MLK week I commit myself to not spending a dime in white-owned businesses. And every year I find it nearly impossible."
Grundy on Tuesday said events in the United States over the past year have made "the inconvenient matter of race" an unavoidable topic, but she expressed remorse over what she had said.
"I regret that my personal passion about issues surrounding these events led me to speak about them indelicately," she said in a statement. "I deprived them of the nuance and complexity that such subjects always deserve."
Boston University continued to distance itself from Grundy’s racially charged tweets on Tuesday as its president penned an open letter to the campus, saying the comments were "hurtful."
President Robert Brown acknowledged Grundy’s right to hold and express her opinions but said her remarks unfairly "typecast" certain groups of people. He stopped short, though, of acknowledging the comments were directed almost exclusively at whites.
"I do not say this lightly or without a great deal of consultation and soul-searching," Brown’s letter reads. "I understand there is a broader context to Dr. Grundy’s tweets and that, as a scholar, she has the right to pursue her research, formulate her views, and challenge the rest of us to think differently about race relations. But we also must recognize that words have power and the words in her Twitter feed were powerful in the way they stereotyped and condemned other people."
The university, through a spokesman, had previously said it was "offended" by Grundy’s statements, many of which were posted online at SoCawlege.com and then elsewhere.
Critics decried the comments as offensive, racist and inappropriate for a professor preparing to teach at a large, racially diverse university.
But supporters said the comments weren’t racist. They started the hashtag #IStandWithSaida and launched an online petition that notes the university, the largest in Massachusetts in terms of enrollment, is the place where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. earned his doctorate.
"Racism extends to virtually every institution in American society — including higher education," the petition reads. "Calling Professor Grundy’s tweets racist minimizes the very real effects of racism for people of color in the United States."
Brown, the university president, said Grundy will report for work on July 1.