Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, Chair of Psychiatry at Columbia University, has been suspended indefinitely after a tweet in which he referred to a Black model as a "freak of nature."
Lieberman's suspension stems from his reaction to a photo of American model Nyakim Gatwech, who is of South Sudanese descent, shared to Twitter on February 17. He tweeted "Whether a work of art or freak of nature she’s a beautiful sight to behold" in response to the photo of Gatwech, which resulted in nearly immediate public outcry.
The post, which erroneously stated Gatwech was in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the darkest skin in the world, can be found below.
Lieberman deleted the tweet and apologized shortly after the public callouts began, according to screenshots shared by others, but it was far too little too late.
He soon deactivated his Twitter account completely as both laypeople and medical professionals alike called for his removal from his position as Chair of Psychiatry.
Many also commented on the prevalence of racism and implicit bias in medicine.
Ayana Harry of PIX11 spoke with Gatwech about Lieberman's tweet and subsequent behavior.
"I was bullied before."
"I worked so hard to build tough skin."
"I’ve worked so hard to be able to be in a room where I’m being discriminated [against], where I’m being looked at sideways, as if people are disgusted with me—with something I can’t change."
You can view the interview below:
Lieberman also reportedly resigned his position as executive director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, according to the New York Times.