Essex County College in New Jersey has fired adjunct professor Lisa Durden after she made racially insensitive remarks during an interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox News two weeks ago, according to the Associated Press. College officials said they received complaints about Durden’s interview, with some university constituents upset about statements that were disparaging to white people. During the interview, Durden, who is black, discussed a Memorial Day event held exclusively for black people hosted by a Black Lives Matter group.
When Carlson asked Durden for her thoughts, she interrupted the host, saying: “Boo hoo hoo. You white people are angry because you couldn’t use your white privilege card” to attend the event. The show aired June 6, and the school suspended Durden with pay two days later. She addressed the matter during a public meeting Tuesday with school officials, but was soon fired, according to the AP.
In a statement from College President Dr. Anthony E. Munroe obtained by the Daily Caller, Munroe quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and said he’s committed to maintaining a welcoming environment for people of all races. He added that the school will be forming a committee devoted to making students of all backgrounds feel welcome.
“Munroe said that in light of these events he wanted to assure the public that Essex is committed to “maintaining a welcoming environment to all students from a variety of races,” even quoting Martin Luther King and then adding, “racism cannot be fought with more racism.”
The school will be forming a committee devoted to “unity in diversity” with the aim of helping students of all backgrounds to feel welcome, including those who identify as white, he said.”
Munroe added that while the school respects first amendment freedoms, he believes the “health and wellbeing” of students supersedes many of these concerns.
"Munroe addressed first amendment concerns in the statement that have arisen over Durden’s suspension, saying the school values free speech and academic freedom, but believes that the “health and well being” of students trumps any personal views held by an adjunct.
He said the college also rejects “any conduct that implies that all students are not welcome to participate in, or benefit from, our program or activities on the basis of their race, color, orientation or national origin.”
Durden, meanwhile, claims that her firing was tantamount to being “publicly lynched” and compared her treatment by the school to a rape victim being blamed for their assault, the AP reports.
“Durden told NJ.com on Friday that she has received a lot of support from school staff members and students, but compared her experience to a rape victim who is blamed for the crime, and a person who returns from war to a hostile environment."
Unsurprisingly, she is already lawyering up:
"Durden’s attorney, Leslie Farber, said she believes her client’s free speech rights were violated. Farber said they were considering whether to take legal action in the matter.
I fully believe that institutions of higher learning must provide a safe space for students to explore, discuss and debate, not only academic philosophies, but the harder issues related to living harmoniously and growing together in our communities and as a country,” Munroe wrote in a statement announcing the firing. ‘The character of this institution mandates that we embrace diversity, inclusion, and unity. Racism cannot be fought with more racism.’”