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White Racism' course at Florida school to explore America's 'white supremacist society

White nationalists attend a rally on October 28, 2017 in Shelbyville, Tennessee. The event billed as a White Lives Matter rally is hosted by Nationalist Front, which is a coalition of several white supremacist organizations. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A course titled “White Racism” at Florida Gulf Coast University has some accusing the professor of being intentionally provocative, according to the Fort Myers News-Press.

Ted Thornhill is an assistant professor of sociology who has taught classes on racism and white supremacy for nearly a decade, and starting this spring, at least 50 students will take part in his latest offering.

“Much evidence, both historical and sociological, shows the U.S. has been and remains a white supremacist society,” Thornhill wrote in a statement about the course.

About the course

Thornhill said the course will cover ways to challenge white supremacy, and will look at ideologies, laws, policies and practices that have allowed for “white racial domination over those racialized as non-white.”

“I think the course can be construed to be a provocative title,” Thornhill said. “I think that students will be excited to learn about this.

“The thing is, nobody said it wasn’t okay to be white. I am saying ‘It’s not okay to be a white racist.’ There’s a big difference.”

Criticism on campus

Not everyone sees it like Thornhill does, however. Some think the name of the course is specifically tailored to get a reaction out of white people.

“I would have preferred a name more like ‘Systemic Racism’ because giving it ‘White Racism’ as the name of the class I feel like it’s intentional that you are trying to make white people look at the class a certain way,” said Alex Pilkington, treasurer of the FGCU College Republicans.

To Thornhill, the presence of any pushback against his course just shows how much it is needed.

“Any ‘controversy’ generated by the course title or description testifies to its urgency,” Thornhill wrote. “Attempts to paint the course as anything other than that contained in the course description, which is self-explanatory, betrays gross ignorance and/or malevolent intent as well as a self-evident need to enroll in the course.

“At its core, my course is about the search for truth.”

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