Professor of controversial FGCU class speaks out after receiving threats

It began with ‘it’s okay to be white’ flyers posted around the FGCU campus by a student. And now, Dr. Ted Thornhill says he’s getting more targeted messages since his “white racism” class began a week ago.

More: “It’s okay to be white” flyers on FGCU campus reignite heated debate

Thornhill knew his “white racism” class would spark controversy—but recent threatening voicemails and email messages struck a nerve.

One of the messages said, “let me tell you something Ted.. I’d like to see your family suffer long and slow.”

He says since the semester began, he’s received several messages like this.

“They mention your family should be found dead in a trash heap along with you,” Thornhill said. “The only color people of color need to be concerned with is the red blood.”

FGCU campus police have received some of the more personal and threatening messages, and Thornhill has even shared some with his “white racism” class.

More: Police to guard FGCU “white racism” course

“I think it’s important that I share with them—particularly if it’s threatening because I don’t want to hide stuff from them,” he said.

Just this week, Thornhill’s office door was covered in ‘it’s okay to be white’ posters. The student who did it came forward to claim responsibility.

“I had no other option but to do so to get my voice heard. I couldn’t engage with the professor,” said the student responsible, Griffin Baker-Royo. “My problem with the class is that there’s an imbalance in the dialogue—that’s what I’d hope to address.”

But Thornhill says there are better ways to engage with him.

“I think this person and others like him need to be more mature and engage in a kind of dialogue and conversation—rather than coming at darkness with a hoodie where you can’t see his face—to communicate a message that nobody is claiming is not okay,” Thornhill said.

He says he’ll be using some of those threatening email and voicemails for research—along with sending them to campus police.

As for Baker-Royo, he says his flyers weren’t intended to be threatening, and he doesn’t wish violence on the professor.

Reporter:John-Carlos Estrada
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