Activists, educators and leaders in BIPOC equality have long advocated for acknowledgement from allies and academia.
Acknowledgement involves recognizing authentic history and how it shaped our current lives and status. It includes things such as recognizing what Indigenous tribe's traditional homelands we live or work on or speaking truthfully about acts committed by our ancestors that benefited us at the cost of others.
However tone, context and reason matter.
Acknowledgement done as normalizing past atrocities is not helpful or welcome. Blindsiding POCs with information can be traumatic. Using past history to brag about one's own enlightenment also misses the point.
But where's the line?
A Black student was mortified to hear her professor divulge his family's slave-owning history and their likely participation in the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 during his introductory statement to the class.
TikToker @sommersw0rld posted a video capturing the Zoom session during which the online professor said he had in his possession a whip his family used on slaves.
He also revealed his grandfather probably shot Black people in Tulsa.
The student captioned the video with:
"First day of class my teacher saying his family had slaves and was part of the [Ku Klux] Klan."
#fypシ #sheincares like what did I sign up for …
The professor was heard saying:
"My grandfather, my paternal grandfather, probably was in Tulsa shooting the Black people."
He was likely referring to the heinous incident in history, when on May 31 and June 1, 1921, mobs of White people attacked Black residents and destroyed their businesses in the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The massacre is also referred to as the "Black Wall Street massacre"—given the area destroyed was one of the wealthiest Black communities in the U.S.
Fellow TikTokers were slack-jawed over the professor's opening comments.
"That's not the half of it at all," said @sommersw0rld of the professor's introductory statement to the class in which he said his family came from a "White supremacist background."
In a follow-up "part 1" clip, she reiterated:
"This is the first day of school. Eight in the morning. After that, some of the students were visibly uncomfortable."
Her fellow students questioned why the professor felt compelled to bring up his "ancestors' racist tendencies."
"To be fair, he did say he was disowned because he didn't want to follow the practices of his family," she said, adding, "But he did still have a whip from his family that was used on slaves back in the day, in his house."
He followed his statement about the whip by encouraging a class discussion.
"Then he asked us if he should keep it."
In a "part 2" video, she emphatically said the original video was not "fake" and she thought it was "not funny."
She also confirmed the class was for political science and not a history or math class as speculated.
In response to a commenter suggesting she drop the class, she responded the course was "required."
When she first signed up for the class, she explained the course description said it would cover legislative government among other relevant topics, adding there was no mention of him covering his personal family history.
Instead of dropping the class straight away, she said she wanted to stay enrolled to see if there would be further unsolicited comments from the professor.
"If it gets any worse, I'm definitely dropping the class and will be reporting him," she said.
She also reminded people the Tulsa Race Massacre was not that long ago.
The professor should have been mindful of the subject matter being a potential trigger for students of color in the Zoom session.
Reply to @sommersw0rld sorry it took so long but here’s part 2 ! If y’all have anymore questions lmk I’ll answer them!!! :)
The clip ended with her saying she would consider making a "part 3" if there were more questions from viewers.