University Of Alabama Dean YOU'RE FIRED For Tweeting While Black
Finally, someone in Alabama is losing their job because of racist conduct! Don't get too excited. It's not Gov. Kay Ivey, who was part of a blackface comedy troupe at Auburn University. No, it's Jamie R. Riley, assistant vice president and dean of students at the University of Alabama (roll tide!). Riley resigned after less than seven months on the the job. That's a lifetime in Scaramuccis but shockingly brief for academia. What horribly offensive racist act could he have perpetrated? Well, Riley, who is black, made some controversial statements on Twitter about America and race. They were a few years old, before he even started his drive-through tenure at Alabama.
Breitbart broke the "story" about Riley's tweets, because it enjoys breaking black people. Shirley Sherrod lost her position in the Obama administration because of a Breitbart smear job. Digging through someone's Twitter feed for problematic tweets has replaced digging through someone's garbage for incriminating documents, like a take-out receipt from Olive Garden. People say a lot of racist stuff on Twitter. Ben Shapiro once marked Travyon Martin's 21st birthday with a glib joke about his shooting death. Riley however seems to have made the critical mistake of tweeting while black. You can get away with posting that MLK quote about how "hate cannot drive out hate," but anything else is risking controversy. Let's take look at Riley's terrible, awful tweets:
Breitbart's headline declared that Riley called the American flag and the police "racist." What he actually said was that the flag represents a "systemic history of racism" for black people. That is ... kinda true. The flag is complicated. Conservatives demand that we view the flag simply, as a banner of all that's good in America. That's a choice. It's not a great one, though. Riley also dares to suggest the police are part of a historically racist system. That doesn't mean Officer Timson is personally racist. But racial profiling and less than ideal community policing of black neighborhoods are products of that racist system. You have to acknowledge this if you want to resolve it.
This is also not a controversial opinion among the melanin having. We can get peeved when a white person will dismiss something that's clearly racist. Maybe the cop was just having a bad day when he shot the unarmed black kid in the back. People of all colors have backs. Why are we making this about race?
Riley also tweeted the hashtag "#missmewithyourprivilege," and it's racist to claim white people enjoy any privileges because they're white. Tucker Carlson said so.
Yeah, this is stuff we've heard at cookouts. It's not spooky House of Farrakhan territory. This was sufficient to send Riley to the unemployment line. Chris Bryant, assistant director of the Division of Strategic Communications, strategically communicated through email Thursday an official statement from the university confirming Riley's quit-firing.
BRYANT: Dr. Jamie Riley has resigned his position at The University of Alabama by mutual agreement. Neither party will have any further comments.
Professional terrible person Laura Ingraham shared on Twitter the Breitbart hit job on Riley. This was only news because conservatives are convinced universities are brainwashing students to kill whitey while in full drag. Ingraham is often accused of racism herself. That's because she's racist and frequently speaks in racism with racist subtitles on live TV. However, she doesn't believe she should lose her lucrative job in the racism industry. White people saying racist garbage is freedom of speech. Black people discussing race is "OH SHIT, REVOLUTION! DIG UP YOUR BURIED AR-15! THEY'RE COMING IN THE HOUSE!"
The state of Alabama is 26 percent black, but the University of Alabama's black student population is just 10 percent. There is not surprisingly a history of racism at the university. We can't find any examples, though, of white faculty or staff members losing their jobs because of racist actions. Riley's Twitter account is deleted now, so we can't tell how many followers he had. It remains a mystery how his old tweets found their way to the investigative "journalists" at Breitbart. We also will never know the full context of his tweets.
Life's rarely a bowl of cherries for black folks, but the Trump era is truly the pits. (BOMBECKED!) We're more likely to just say "what the fuck" and let the truth fly on social media. It shocks the hell out white people sometimes if a black colleague, even a close friend, drops their guard and gets real about race. We saw this firsthand on Facebook once with our friend Hilary. The sister went full Angela after the latest police shooting and her white coworker, Tiffany, responded, "OMG! Have you forgotten what Dr. King said about hate? This is so unlike you." That's because Hilary is putting on her best Hilary Banks professionally so she can keep paying her rent. She's got bills and student loans. She can't even afford to get as black as Hillary Clinton in the workplace.
Jamie R. Riley was himself on Twitter and he paid the price. That should make us all say, "What the fuck?"
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.