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One of the positive outcomes of #BlackLivesMatter and even Black Twitter’s social media momentum is that employers and universities are no longer taking chances when it comes to behaviors that might be seen as even borderline racist. Montel Williams would argue that’s also one of the negative consequences of the movement. Two days ago, the former talk show host took to Facebook to defend Thaddeus Pryor, a white male student at Colorado College who was suspended by his school for 21 months after responding to a Yik Yak post that said “#blackwomenmatter,” with, “They matter, they’re just not hot.”

Upon appeal, Pryor’s sentence was reduced to six months, but Williams still thinks that punishment is excessive, writing on his page, “This is not racism, this is a lapse in good judgement that is hardly uncommon amongst college kids.” Check out his full post below:

I’ll be the first to stand up in the face of racism or bigotry, and because of that I feel obligated to stand up when charges of racism and bigotry (which impugn the heart and soul of the accused) are thrown around haphazardly or to assuage unreasonable outrage. Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has made me aware today of such a case. I must speak because there are few charges more serious, more injurious to one’s character than to be called a racist.

Thaddeus Pryor was suspended 21 months by Colorado College for a post on yik yak (anonymous social media) quoted below in the graphic, in which he affirms that while black women matter (as humans) he doesn’t find them “hot” (aka sexually attractive). His comment was moronic and probably a little offensive – he admits as much to the Dean in his appeal letter – it was not on its face racist even if it was said in all seriousness. For one to not be a racist, one must accept that black people are equal as human beings and should be treated as such – one can have not an ounce of racism in their hearts and not find black people (or white people, or asian people, etc.) sexually attractive.

Racism on college campuses is real – we should be focussing on people putting nooses at the doors of black kids, people shouting the N word (the -er form) at black students, people who engage in behavior that legitimately threatens students on the basis of race. This is not racism, this is a lapse in good judgement that is hardly uncommon amongst college kids.
I don’t defend his remark, nor does he himself in his correspondence to the Dean – he himself takes responsibility and appreciates his actions have consequences. I find it outrageous that he would be suspended for this – this is the collegiate equivalent of life in prison (expulsion being the death penalty). This is a conversation, this is having him go meet with a professor focussing on black history to learn more about prejudice, this is a conversation. This is a failure of leadership and faux PC outrage on the part of College leadership.

I did some homework on him before I wrote this – I won’t compromise his privacy, but I’m unable to conclude he’s anything other than a normal college kid.
Integrity is defined by what you do when no one is looking. But for Thaddeus admitting he wrote the post in question, the College could not have held him responsible. Perhaps his biggest mistake was being honest and taking responsibility for his conduct thereby subjecting him to a kafka-esque college judicial proceeding that I find FATALLY FLAWED AND INHERENTLY BIASED AGAINST HIM.
So Thaddeus Lloyd does not find the black women of Colorado College “hot.” As black people we face real issues of prejudice, I don’t understand how one white kid not finding the black women of his college “hot” threatens the physical or emotional safety of black women on that campus nor black women as a whole. Had he said “white women matter but they aren’t hot,” or “asian women matter but they aren’t hot,” or “women with brown hair matter but they aren’t hot,” his remark would have been moronic but can anyone say he’d have been suspended?

Life frequently presents us with input that is moronic, varying degrees of offensive – such is life. We have a right to be treated equally as humans, to not be subjected to prejudice on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender and we have a right to be physically safe and not face outrageous threats to our emotional safety. Was this that? College kids need to toughen up and administrators shouldn’t coddle them.

Admittedly, I’m inclined to agree with Williams, though I wouldn’t take time out of my day to write a lengthy Facebook post in solidarity with white tears. When I read the comment the student made I actually chuckled to myself, thought, “that was rude,” and moved on because I don’t particularly concern myself with whether white boys or men find me attractive, and I believe he’s entitled to whatever preferences he has when it comes to the opposite sex. Was it a comment that needed to be made publicly? No. Was it a comment worth suspension from school? I don’t think so. Am I glad he’s learning a lesson in cultural sensitivity? Absolutely.

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