Dr. Tommy Curry Got Death Threats For His Comments On Race. Now He’s Leaving The U.S. To Teach In Scotland
Dr. Tommy J. Curry, a tenured Texas A&M University philosophy professor who received death threats for his comments on racial violence, said he has accepted a teaching job in Scotland, according to a report from
Emma Pettit in The Chronicle Of Higher Education.
In 2012, Curry spoke on Prof. Rob Redding’s radio show, “Redding News Review,” about race, fear, and other topics he studies. He touched on how uncomfortable white people are with the idea of Black people owning firearms and using them to combat racism, The Guardian reported.
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A five-minute, out-of-context video excerpt of the talk was later posted on Youtube. Conservative blogger Rod Dreher accused Curry of being racist in a column titled, “When Is It OK to Kill Whites?” He reframed Curry’s words as telling Black people to kill white people. Other conservative media grabbed it and ran with it. Threats followed.
Angry alumni pressured the university to respond and some called for Curry to be fired. Michael K Young, the president of Texas A&M, called the professor’s comments “disturbing” and against the values of the university but stopped short of firing him.
Curry saw this as an effort to silence him and described it as a buy-in “to the political spin of white supremacists”:
It became clear, Curry said, that while there’s “a language of diversity” that allowed the university to hire a Black professor, “given the political inclinations of the administrators, they’re not going to protect the Black professor.”Tommy J. Curry in an interview with The Chronicle Of Higher Education.
In 2017, Curry wrote a book, “The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood.”
“When I say I write to give voice to the Black males coerced into silence, I am speaking of the multiple kinds of violence — be it rape, intimate partner violence, or homicide and suicide — that remain unacknowledged,” Curry said in an interview in Inside Higher Ed.
“Dreher claims that I am spouting dangerous ideas, but (he) did not call for a debate of these ideas but demanded my censoring. He demanded the university silence me and my work.
“Often the desire to dominate others stands in for an actual study of Black males,” Curry continued. “This is why I argue that Black masculinity theory often revels in stereotypes rather than study.”
Curry said he went on teaching job interviews in the U.S., but the controversy came up.
However, in Scotland, the controversy didn’t seem relevant in trying to assess whether Curry is a good philosopher, said Nick Treanor, head of the philosophy department at Edinburgh University. Treanor said he and his colleagues are excited by Curry’s work, according to The Chronicle Of Higher Education.
Interviewing at Edinburgh was a relief, Curry said. The department is interested in radical ideas, whether they can hold up or not. “It was a kind of freedom to actually start thinking again,” he said.
In 2012 he had appeared on a satellite radio show and delivered a five-minute talk on how uneasy white people are with the idea of black people talking about owning guns and using them to combat racist forces. When a recording of the talk resurfaced in May, people thought the tenured professor was telling black people to kill white people. This idea swept through conservative media and into the fever swamps of Reddit forums and racist message boards. The threats followed.