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Posted under: News Race & Identity

How This White Professor's Behavior After A Lesson On Slavery Caused Her To Be Fired

A student challenged her lecturer on a lesson regarding slavery. The professor did not take it well.

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At the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, a white lecturer handed out a quiz in her Sociology of the Family class that led to a debate between her and a black student, Kayla Parker.

At the center of the troubles is a single question; on the multiple choice section of the quiz, the professor, Judy Morelock, asked a question about the structure of slave families.

Parker marked an answer that said that slave families were often destroyed by the sale of one or more family members, and that this led to many single-parent families.

Seems right, right?

Morelock said it was wrong.

Upon receiving her test, and seeing her answer marked as incorrect, Parker reached out to her professor to discuss why her answer was wrong.

Morelock responded that the answer was wrong because most slave families were headed by two parents, a mother and a father, citing 1950s research by a pair of white male sociologists. 

Parker challenged Morelock, saying that the professor's sources were outdated and, in fact, untrue.

What the teacher did next caused her contract with the university to be terminated, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel

“She immediately got hostile with me and was like, ‘If you want your four points back, we can talk about that," the 22-year-old student said of her professor. “I didn’t just want the four points though. I was like, ‘I want to actually be respected and for you to appreciate my concerns about how you’re portraying my history to a whole class of people.'”

Parker took to social media to vent about the unfortunate debacle between her and Morelock.

In a surprising move, Morelock too took to Facebook to threaten and harrass Parker.

Morelock wrote, “After the semester is over and she’s no longer my student, I will post her name, her picture and her bio on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Count on it. For now, I’m bound by university rules that grant her more latitude in freedom of speech than I have. After she graduates and I retire, all bets are off.”

Later, again without mentioning Parker's name, Morelock wrote, "I’m sorry if I upset you. Please accept this complimentary [sex toy] and go f— yourself.”

Morelock was careful not to use Parker's name because federal law prohibits educators from releasing personal details of a student's identity regarding his/her academic record.

Despite this, or perhaps because of it, Parker says that Morelock lobbed comments at her without using her name during class as well. even admitted to having been bullied by the teacher while in class. According to Parker, Morelock would often say things like, "Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to bring the textbook to class today because my bag is full of other texts for a student who requires further evidence on subjects I teach in class."

Eventually, Parker provided evidence of the teacher's backhanded comments and posts along with references to her being hostile toward Parker to the sociology department head of UT and Morelock was fired.

Following the firing, Parker eventually wrote about her site of the story on Medium in a post she titled, "Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: The Tale of A Progressive Professor Who Forgot To Hide Her Racism And Got Her Ass Fired."

Parker released a statement following the termination of the teacher.

“There are things that were brought up that I don’t think would have been said to a white student, like her suggesting that she can buy me books that are six dollars,” Parker said. “These are things that while they’re not slurs that are being thrown around and it’s not the ‘n-word,' they’re things that matter, and that suggest there’s some bias behind why she’s treating me the way she’s treating me.”

Parker's story will hopefully display to others that when you stand up for what is right anything is possible.

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