UP investigating racist hate mail sent to Prof. Barnor Hesse


Evan Robinson-Johnson / Daily Senior Staffer

A UP officer works outside of Crowe Hall, home to the African-American Studies department. Prof. Barnor Hesse, who works in the African-American Studies department, teaches a course called “Unsettling Whiteness.”

Gabby Birenbaum, Campus Editor

University Police is investigating an instance of racist hate mail sent to African American studies Prof. Barnor Hesse on May 2.

On May 3, Hesse, who teaches a class called “Unsettling Whiteness,” tweeted the text of an email he had received.

“Hey Doc., after I finish AFAMST 380: Unsettling Whiteness, I want to take AFAMST 101: Unsettling Chimps, you racist mother f***er,” the email said, per Hesse’s tweet.

Within two hours of reporting it to the University, Hesse said he received responses from Provost Jonathan Holloway and dean of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Adrian Randolph offering support and resources and ensuring him UP had opened an investigation.

“Response was rapid,” he tweeted.

The initial tweet reporting the incident received 205 likes, 67 retweets and 52 replies, as of Tuesday night. His tweet about the University’s response garnered 179 likes and 13 retweets.

Randolph addressed the incident in a May 3 email to all Weinberg faculty. In his email, Randolph called the anonymous email “racist” and noted how it explicitly targeted Hesse’s work.

“On behalf of the Weinberg College community, I condemn the cowardly act of sending such an email and strongly denounce all forms of racism, discrimination, and harassment,” Randolph wrote. “Such racism violates our expectations concerning inclusion and respect.”

In a Tuesday statement, University spokesperson Bob Rowley said UP is actively investigating.

“(UP) continues to investigate this hateful email and is trying to identify the sender,” Rowley said in a statement to The Daily.

Hesse declined to be interviewed for this story.

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Twitter: @birenbomb