Letters to Editor, Opinion

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Openness, nuance needed in conversations on race

In the past year alone, the inconvenient matter of race has made itself an unavoidable topic of discussion in our country. These issues are uncomfortable for all of us, and, yet, the events we now witness with regularity in our nation tell us that we can no longer circumvent the problems of difference with strategies of silence. I regret that my personal passion about issues surrounding these events led me to speak about them indelicately. I deprived them of the nuance and complexity that such subjects always deserve.

As an experienced educator, I take seriously my responsibility to create an inclusive learning environment for all of my students. Both professionally and ethically, I am unequivocally committed to ensuring that my classroom is a space where all students are welcomed. I know firsthand that students learn best by discussing these issues openly and honestly without risk of censure or penalty. I look forward to more dialogues about race, diversity, and inclusion in my career at Boston University, and to having the honor of knowing and teaching some of the finest minds in the world.

Saida Grundy, incoming assistant professor of sociology and African-American studies at Boston University.

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  1. [Expletive].

    You got caught and now you are backing up your comments.

    Total [expletive].

  2. Peter’s comment is typical of how ignorance prevents real discussion: an African-American women says something in a tweet that makes certain people feel a bit uncomfortable, and all the institutions of power are imposed upon her. She then clarifies the situation in this more extended letter rather than a tweet, and she gets criticized still. Damned is she does; damned if she doesn’t. Absolutely ridiculous. But that’s how marginalized voices get silenced. Evidently, only members of the majority group are allowed to speak without getting criticized. Attests perfectly to Dr. Grundy’s points in her tweets. Thanks for proving her right.

    • Yes!! Agreed. Say that.

    • I agree as well. She spoke nothing but truth in her tweets. Colorblindness is simply a way to stakl the U.S. addressing serious racial issue. WE NEED A OPENDIALOGUE. In the words of the great Malcom X “The only way the problem can be solved — first, the white man and the black man have to be able to sit down at the same table. The white man has to feel free to speak his mind without hurting the feelings of that Negro, and the so-called Negro has to feel free to speak his mind without hurting the feelings of the white man. Then they can bring the issues that are under the rug out on top of the table and take an intelligent approach to get the problem solved.

    • White Male Alum

      Peter and Mike Viall’s comments prove Dr. Grundy’s tweets. Right on. Dr. Grundy has her prejudices. You do too. Seems like we all do. Cry me a river. But what if YOUR prejudices were “helped” out by powerful institutions in society more often than people of color who try to comment on racial privilege? Take any class in sociology, anthropology, history, or modern American literature and learn how this works.

      The institutions that favor white people are the problem; white people (or anyone) who refuse to admit this favoritism are certainly not helping solve this problem.

      Now, to all you white boys crying to SoCawledge and university administrators: Pull up your Big Boy Pants and admit that she has a right to her personal opinion. Admit you can discuss this yourself (Respectfully. On Twitter. With her.) No need to cry to institutions like BU Deans, FoxNews, and the Daily Free Press comment section to make your voice heard. That’s how wimpy your privilege makes you.

      Oh, one more thing. You both have rights to your opinions. But her opinion is strikingly well-informed by the best social theory from Europe and America. Pierre Bourdieu, Michel Foucault, Jay MacLeod — heard of them? All famous white males, by the way. They already explained this. Read them. You don’t even have to take Dr. Grundy’s class to do that. (Might help though.) “Racism” is a system, “prejudices” are by individuals. If your rude opinions benefit from privilege in the system, then they become something different, something bigger…

  3. Michelle Walsh

    Thank you for this honest and open letter to the editor, Saida Grundy. As a fellow faculty member, I welcome your call for a nuanced discussion of the complexities of institutional and cultural oppression in this country – and I welcome your passion and your expert knowledge and experience in that contribution.

    • How does one commence a nuanced conversation by opening with blanket statements that “THE” problem in colleges is a broad swath of the population? Either racism is wrong or it is not and if it is wrong it is wrong for everyone. Either sexism is wrong or it isn’t and if it is wrong it is wrong for everyone. No true morality depends upon the identity of the person to which it is applied, male/female, straight/queer, majority/minority. wrong is wrong and one does not correct injustice by creating new injustices.

      Is racism a problem, absolutely! Is sexism a problem, again absolutely! But, as a white male I would not be comfortable in this Profs classroom as she has very clearly articulated a bias that my gender and skin color imply I am “THE” problem.

      • I believe she said the problem is the failure to address that particular population’a racial problems. How is it racist? White college males are a powerful population if we don’t address racial issues and have an open dialogue with them about racial issues then they will go on tother reproduce these issues as manh of theor forefathers have done hopefully due to mere ignorance on and lack of exposture to the issue. Due to their priviledge they will be the first wave of leaders of tomorrow. I agree with her statement.

  4. Total BS. You are an [expletive] racist and you are lying to keep your job.

    • You can’t be racist towards white people. You can be prejudiced against white people.

      • Native American Female

        It’s called reverse racism you ignorant donkey butt. She meant what she said. She got caught. She should be fired for her tweets! She is no different from anyone one else and should be held accountable for her hurtful and offensive comments. If it were a white female, she would never have been given the opportunity to explain. Double standards at work here!!!

        • She never said she didn’t mean what she said! It’s the truth! she said she should have discussed it delicately. why? Well because whites and wHite wannabes are in power. Duh. & this is a double standard because of the ridiculous outrage she experienced over her tweets.

      • You can’t be racist towards white people? This is the dumbest statement I have heard all week.

        • actually its an educated response because only educated people know that perform racism (racial discrimination) one has to be in the ultimate position of power. If you are power less and racially hateful you’re just prejudiced.

      • huh? you can be racist toward anyone if you define them by their race either positively or negatively.

        • White Male Alum

          Tom, Jason, etc.: “You can be racist towards whites?” It’s not that simple. Oh if it only were.

          Being racist against white people is like buying stuff with Mexican pesos in the United States. You can try, but it’s not very effective.

          Racism against a historically discriminated group is like buying stuff with dollars in the United States — the system actually has worked that way for awhile. That’s our monetary system. This is our cultural system: White people literally have a history of creating institutions (which other races have been employed within) that likely help other people like us (NYTimes: Discrimination in Housing Against Nonwhites Persists Quietly, U.S. Study Finds).

          Racism can exist against white people, but not when white people are in power. Then it’s just prejudice. Take any class in sociology, anthropology, history, or modern American literature and learn how this works.

          All you white boys crying to FoxNews, SoCawledge, and university administrators that this is “anti-white racism”: Pull up your Big Boy Pants and admit that she has a right to her personal opinion, personal prejudices which aren’t racist. If your rude opinions benefit from privilege in the system, then they become something different, something bigger…

  5. Dear Dr. Grundy: Thank you for your courageous leadership in speaking the truth about race in America and calling for on-going dialogue in the subject. I support you and wish you the best of luck in your new position.


    Vanessa Jackson.

  6. What would the reaction be if a white individual expressed racist views towards minorities? They would be openly persecuted for their ignorance as they should be. If equality truly means to be equal, then all should be punished the same for the same action. And in this case, sadly, that means not allowing someone who openly expresses racist sentiments, be they towards any group, to be included in an institution that defines itself by being inclusive.

    • Native American Female

      Someone actually speaks truth! Like button♡!

    • “True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.” It’s a false double standard to say, “if the tables were turned…then this.” False because (1) POC cannot be racist toward white people, (2) power in this country is distributed to white people, white institutions, whiteness, and white media first and always, historically oppressing POC. When white people, in this case are mentioned in tweets that reveal their privilege or threaten their place in society, it does not catastrophically diminish their social, spiritual and physical well being, as it does for the already disadvantaged communities of color. Example after example can be given. In the end we are comparing apples and oranges. Shame on anyone who thinks for a second that being uncomfortable is the same as being unsafe. Prof. Grundy has made white people feel uncomfortable about their privilege, but she has yet to unseat (or harm) a single white person. Think critically, which means use another source other than Webster dictionary to define “equality”.

      • What an absolutely absurd statement to say that people of color cannot be racist! either you stand for equality or you don’t. equality means we hold each other to the same standards. I don’t judge you by who your parents are and you do the same.

    • What was racist in what she said? If anything she said could be proven to be racist trust and believe she would have been fired.

  7. Dr. Grundy,

    As a current graduate student and a conscious member of society, I thank your for speaking truth to power. I wish you the best in all your future endeavors.

    Warm best,


  8. If a white person made similar comments about blacks, asians, jews, etc. would it be objectionable? If yes, then these comments are objectionable from a black person (or from an asian, a jew, etc.)

    • No. That would be true if the second premise you so conveniently did not state were true: that this country has reached an equilibrium in terms of representation, retention, employment, wealth, etc. among all racial and ethnic groups. But we KNOW this to be false, there is a wealth of data to support my claim. So if the rules apply to everyone, then the privilege should apply to everyone. The latter is false and thus your conclusion is absurd.

      • I am no more to blame for being a white male than a black female is to blame for being a black female. If you are judging me or her on those accidents of our birth you are prejudice at the least and racist at the worst. Saying that white males are “THE” problem is judging me based upon attributes I have no say in determining.

        Striving for equality means holding each other to the same standards. What is so often referred to as “the golden rule”.

        • You ignored the other portions of this posters comment. I sincerely hope you reread it and consider their point about comparing apples and oranges. Context is everything. You are employing decontextualized, 1+1=2 logic. People are more complicated than that.

  9. I believe that, as the professor said, this is a more nuanced situation and her tweets came across as harsh. You are not going to get anyone to see your point by calling a whole segment of the population a problem and generalizing them. That being said, she has clarified and I think we should move on from this and let her work speak for itself.

    Also, I would really like to know what Peter’s comment said before it was censored 🙂

  10. Bill Corrigan SMG 91

    This is an obvious display of a double standard in academia. Let’s just say, hypothetically, that it were a white male professor coming into BU and had tweeted out “black femininity isn’t a problem for america’s colleges, black femininity is THE problem for america’s colleges”? This is blatant racism on her part. She can contrive and backpedal all she wants but if you reverse the race and gender of her quotes, they become very obviously racist and I would never want my child to be part of that setting.

  11. The tweets by this professor do not support her case in this letter to the editor. Any reasonable minded person can see the tweets were not created and intended to start a beneficial conversation to rectifying the issue of racism in this country.

    The bottom line is that professor simply lost herself in this tweet, is spewing hate, and only negates her credibility among students and the educational community.

    If anyone thinks this tweet would have been ok coming from a white female professor or other race, you’re simply not living in reality.

    No right minded individual denies racism exists. But her tweets only make the matter worse.

  12. Prof. Grundy cannot be ‘racist’ against white people. Racism is a system of power and control. White people are empowered by that system. For people of color to be ‘racist,’ they would have to hold 90% of professorships, 99% of all governorships in history, 97.73% of all presidencies, and be 80-90% of students on campus. People of color can’t be ‘racist’ because racism requires one to dominate positions of power and have a historical position of the oppressor.

    • No racism requires you to judge individuals based upon their race. Regardless of the color of your skin, (note we are all people of color, I have never met a transparent person) if you don’t judge others “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” to quote a very wise person, you are a racist.

      my source: Merriam Webster’s dictionary, and Martin Luther King

    • I am so sick of PC police polluting the English language with rubbish. There is ZERO English language dictionary that defines the word racisms as “a system of power and control.” Racism is racism,l regardless of the perpetrator…period.

  13. Are you going to teach your white male students about why you think “white college males are a problem population”? You should not teach at college. You catagorize and label large groups because it makes it easier for you to wrap your mind around your misguided interpretation of reality. You are ignorant and borderline radical. It’s not a crime to be that way. Being a professor it allows you to promote your prejudice, and narrow minded views on kids trying to a degree. Good luck

  14. Racism = prejudice + power. Boston University is putting this person in a power position while the world silently watches. She has shown herself incapable of keeping her personal prejudices under wraps. God help the white males that end up in her classes.

  15. Killing unarmed Black people and leaving their bodies for dead in the streets is making the matter worse; killing unarmed children during police raids is making the matter worse; not teaching the history of the slave trade in high school history classes is making the matter worse. She is combating the topic of white privilege with a dialogue that many are engaged with. She is inviting people to check their privilege and LISTEN, as listening happens simultaneously when dialogue is occurring. One person listens while the other elaborates and explains what cannot be communicated in 140 characters or less. If a white professor had made the same statements verbatim, she would have been regarded as the heroine “white savior”. It’s unfair to live in this country and to watch our Black scholars be toned policed by white privilege until they are deaf, I meant dead.

  16. Can we PLEASE stop asking the “what if this were said about Black people” question? Because due to the racism in this country, these are NOT EQUIVALENT STATEMENTS and thus the reactions and “censure” should not be the same. Read up on “punching up vs. punching down.” Also, just factually, White masculinity IS a problem in this country, and it has led to the marginalization of many communities since this country was founded/understood as the United States of America.

    In this country, when we talk about “equality” we think of “equality of opportunity” not equality of outcome, and even with THAT simpler metric we are completely failing. Look at the rising wealth gap, health disparities, and blatant inequity in society. Because that’s what we need to be looking at. When many folks speak of equality, they assume people are starting from the same place and thus need the same amount of resources to be “equalized,” when the reality is that people are NOT starting from the same place and thus need different amount of resources to truly achieve equity, justice, fairness.

  17. Catherine Caldwell-Harris

    Let’s move beyond the topic of whether S. Grundy is a racist and discuss the actual content of what she said. Are white males a problem population? In what ways yes or no? If yes, what should colleges do about the problem? If no, it the remains the case that many people think white males are a problem population. How can their image be rehabilitated? Support your arguments.

    • I offer four solutions with general support

      mandatory infantacide of white males – if white masculinity is the problem, eliminating white males will eliminate that problem
      mandatory surgical or chemical castration of white male infants – perhaps it is sufficient to demasculinize the white males at the very least half of the problem is eliminated
      mandatory mixed race reproductive coupling- the “Bullworth” solution, eliminate the races via genetic mixing, this still leave masculinity as a problem to be solved
      4 stop viewing groups of our fellow humans as monolithic entities and start judging each others as individuals not genders, sexualities or colors – perhaps the social system is the problem and individuals should not be made to feel shame for being masculine or feminine, white or non-white.

  18. Saida Grumby,

    You are a disgrace to our people and our struggle. You bring great shame to the negro peoples by lowering yourself to the same level as those you try to condemn. Whites are not to be categorized and judged as a whole just as you hope they do not categorize and judge blacks by the actions of some. I urge you to resign from any teaching positions you hold and keep your bigoted views off the public forums. Shame on you miss Grumby. Shame.

  19. Ohmergerd… you guysssss… you mean, like… a professor might encourage a class to consider a line of thought they’d previously not been asked to explore by their parents or their high school!?!?!?!? And like… students might be prompted into exploring alternative perspectives not passed down generationally? Or, like, a person who has dedicated their professional life to the studies of peoples and the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society might challenge the myopic reference of an individual lived experience and invite students to constructively scrutinize larger systems and mechanisms at play?! #sarscasm

  20. No White male will be treated fairly by this monster. Fire her or prepare To be sued.

  21. ““ … the opinions expressed by Dr. Grundy, in what were seemingly private electronic messages, constitutes her opinion and we must recognize her right to have that opinion whether or not we agree,” Riley said.”

    Well, when one of you Professors comes out as a Klansman, I don’t want to hear a word about it…

  22. It seems to me the professor is inciting violence against white males. She said they are THE problem.

    The white guy in the coma in Baltimore, beaten by a gang of 40 youths, is probably evaluating his white privilege.

  23. This incoming professor is simply a hateful racist. Trying to defend this language demonstrates the same. She destroys what the country hoped for in this century. I am amazed the University accepts such evil.

  24. She doesn’t sorry , she’s just sorry she got caught. If this were a white man or a white woman making comments about black people being the problem it would’ve been fired. Ridiculous double standard. I’m sick of black people getting a pass just because they’re black. The same rule should apply to everyone.

  25. Proof again that racism is a human state of mind that can come from anyone not just one color. Just sad that prominent Civil Right Leaders are not coming forth condemning this racism by Saida Grundy.

    Saida Grundy or anyone’s comments condemning a whole nationality, or race in generalization is racist…period. Its pure racist evil when people do it no matter where it comes from. If people cant see it and admit it, its because they are part of it or don’t want to recognize they are become what they oppose.

    God’s creation often forgets they are children of one creator and that all are brothers & sisters of different colors but of one race, the human race.

  26. No one else sees the progress in black people having enough power that at least some white people actually think we have the power to be racist now?

  27. President Brown,

    Your harboring of a racist will be a very expensive decision for BU. There will be a significant reduction in donations from parents and alumni. This is the only thing that will get your attention.

  28. Saida’s twitter comments were hateful, inarticulate, biased and fatuous.

    She is an embarrassment, the longer you wait to fire her, the more damage will be done to the school’s reputation.

  29. She made a mistake, at least she apologized. We are all entitled to make mistakes once in a while.