You know—there’s a reason why some Black people prefer to exclude white people from Black spaces. It’s not so much about anti-whiteness as much as it is about Black people needing to be able to discuss issues within the Black community away from the white gaze and without the input of white people who have not had the lived experience of being Black in America.
So, what are we to make of a white man who makes the decision to attend an HBCU only to file an anti-discrimination lawsuit against t the school after he was expelled due to Black students finding him to be problematic?
Meet Michael Newman.
According to Fox 6, Newman attended Howard University School of Law until he was expelled in September of last year, which prompted him to file a lawsuit seeking $2 million in monetary damages for “pain, suffering, emotional anguish and damage to his reputation.” Apparently, Black students didn’t appreciate Newman’s Caucasian insight on how and why Black people vote.
From Fox 6:
The trouble started when the university shifted to remote learning at the start of the pandemic, meaning students communicated through purely online forums and through GroupMe chats, Newman claimed in court papers.
After a symposium featuring an African-American speaker in the run-up to the 2020 election, Newman said he posted on a professor’s forum page asking if further dialogue could be had on “whether: (1) Black voters didn’t question turning to government for solutions, and (2) reliably voting for the same party every election disincentivized both parties from responding to the needs of the black communities.”
Some students responded negatively to Newman’s post and reached out to school administrators, prompting Newman’s removal from one of his group chats for the class, according to the allegations.
Newman also described feeling “utterly disenfranchised” at the school and compared himself to a Black student at a primarily White university. The student response was again largely negative, with some calling his comment “offensive,” he claimed.
Newman repeatedly apologized for offending anyone, stressing he was seeking to “learn, not just law, but to learn the thoughts and experiences of people of color,” the lawsuit stated.
But Newman allegedly faced more overt hostility, with many students starting to refer to him as “mayo king” (a perceived reference to his race) and “white panther,” and students claimed that “controversies” that they blamed on Newman had caused “severe stress” and “distracted them from their studies.
Newman tried to remedy the situation by sending out a four-part letter explaining his views, but the effort was labeled a “manifesto,” with one student accusing him of “manipulating [classmates’] emotions … as a social experiment,” the lawsuit said. The letters allegedly resulted in Newman’s removal from a second class-wide group chat.
So, basically, Newman didn’t understand why Black students took issue with him suggesting that the act of Black people voting was an act of “turning to government for solutions,” which is obviously not a question that would ever be posed to white voters. In all his infinite whiteness, it didn’t seem to occur to him that maybe Black people vote overwhelmingly Democrat, because, for all the failures of the Democratic Party, it’s not the party that is currently blocking all police reform initiatives, trying to whitewash Black history and social studies into oblivion in the name of white comfort, denouncing Black activist movements, disenfranchising Black voters and fighting like hell to preserve Confederate monuments, all while denying the racist origins of America.
Often, the lens of whiteness that white people speak and form their opinions through is enough to have Black people deciding we simply need our own spaces.
More from Fox 6:
School of Law Dean Danielle Holley later secretly recorded a Zoom meeting she called with Newman and McGahee, during which she suggested Newman transfer to another school, accusing him of racially harassing classmates, according to the allegations.
During a digital town hall attended by 300 participants to discuss controversies surrounding Newman, Holley allegedly characterized Newman’s letters as “disturbing in every sense of the word,” according to the suit. She allegedly blocked him from using several functions to try and speak up in his defense, even disabling the chat function and turning off his camera.
Holley and Newman wound up filing simultaneous complaints, with Holley accusing Newman of “continual harassment of member [sic] of the Howard Law community, and disturbance of the learning environment at the School of Law.” At the same time, Newman claimed Holley had perpetuated “threats,” “discrimination” and a “hostile academic environment.”
In a panel reviewing Holley’s complaint, the school determined that Newman was “responsible” and ruled that he should be expelled.
It probably didn’t help Newman’s case much that Black students became aware that Newman had previously tweeted a picture of a whipped slave that included the caption, “But we don’t know what he did before the picture was taken,” which, according to the lawsuit, Newman defended by claiming it was meant to mock people who “attempt to explain away videos of police brutality by claiming the victim must have committed wrongdoing before the video started.”
Newman claimed in the lawsuit that he suffered “depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts” as a result of “public ostracism, vilification and humiliation.” The suit also claims the university’s Global Head of Diversity Recruiting, Reggie McGahee, told Newman he had become the most hated student McGahee had seen during his tenure at the university. Even if it’s true that Newman was that hated by Black students, it’s very unlikely that’s the case solely because of some ill-advised remarks about Black voters.)
In fact, Frank Tramble, Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for Howard University, has vowed that the school will “vigorously defend itself in this lawsuit as the claims provide a one-sided and self-serving narrative of the events leading to the end of the student’s enrollment at the University.”
It’s worth noting that, according to Fox 6, Newman received a scholarship to attend Howard, because, despite white people’s claims that HBCUs are inherently racist because they exclude white people, the fact is white people can and do attend them and they even get minority scholarships in order to do so.
So, while Black colleges don’t actually exclude white people, it’s stories like this that fuel the belief that—well, maybe they should.
White People Are Becoming The Majority Of HBCU Students, Report Finds
White HBCU Student Says He Thought ‘There Would Be More Black People’