Dr. Saida Grundy is my friend. She's no racist. I stand with her and you should too.
I've known Dr. Grundy (and her family) now for nearly twenty years all the way back to when she was in high school in Kentucky where we both grew up. Her parents are revered "back home" where we are from. She was raised to be bold. I remember hearing her speak on the main stage of a King Day event when she couldn't have been but just 14-15 years old.
When I attended college at Morehouse in Atlanta, Saida attended around the corner at Spelman. Forever the pastor, I gave her advice on life and relationships back then and always expected her to do great work. She was a great writer/thinker from the start. Wit, courage, and irreverent humor/sarcasm peppered anything and everything she wrote. When she was a 20 year old student and I was nearing graduation, I remember thinking back then that she had a powerful way of making complicated sociological and historical facts plain in a way that cut right to the chase.
When I started seeing her name pop up again and again on my timeline on Twitter and Facebook this past week, I was shocked and concerned. Just hired as a professor at Boston University, she really isn't the type of person to inject herself into the news. She hadn't.
Instead, conservative blogs and Fox News started a headhunting campaign by scouring through every tweet she ever wrote in an attempt to portray her as some white-hating racist. It's just not true. Never has been. Never will be.
First off, while tweets can be read by anyone and everyone, they are written with a context and audience in mind. If I wrote a tweet three months ago that said, "I hate Russell Westbrook" and three months later someone brings it up to say how I am a hateful person, it might be instructive to know that I said it after he made a game-winning shot against my favorite team. Also, my audience knows I'm not a hateful person so when I tweet something like this, they'd immediately know it was tongue-in-cheek.
When Saida tweets about white male privilege inside of academia or how American slavery is a white people problem, it's done with a very particular audience and context in mind. Sometimes the tweets that are now being criticized were a part of a series of tweets that must be viewed together to understand. Those tweets make perfect sense to me and the thousands of people who follow her. A white man inside of academia may be so unaware of his privilege that when he reads those tweets in the context of a hateful conservative blog, the entire meaning goes over his head.
Secondly, conservative whites, with very few exceptions, absolutely despise hearing about their own racism or privilege. It sets them off. I see it daily. It doubly sets them off to see a free black woman call them out for it. Because, let's be real, this isn't about conservative white folk being offended at what they perceive to be Saida's racism. Daily, beloved white commentators and bloggers and radio hosts spew truly racist rhetoric and it gets HUGE ratings. This isn't about white folk being offended by racism, this is about people not wanting Dr. Grundy calling them out on their foolishness without reservation.
Lastly, the anger over Saida's enlightened tweets is fueled by white fear. The thought that someone's privileged son or daughter might get sent to Boston University and learn about racism or privilege scares the hell out of the power structure. In fact, the power structure thrives on ensuring voices like hers are silenced...or else other thinking women and men might actually believe her and do something to disturb the status quo. Oh no!
The hate against Dr. Saida Grundy has grown in the past few days because people can't stand the idea that she could think and speak for herself on issues of race and not be fired immediately when white folk demand it. Our universities are full of women and men who see the world very differently. It's what makes them great. The tweets that Saida is being strangely blasted for now represent how millions of other people sincerely see and view the world.
The true problem is racism - not Dr. Grundy calling it out.