UCF professor compares black people to Asians in controversial tweet

The University of Central Florida is reviewing a series of tweets posted by a professor at the school after students and social media users began urging officials to fire him.

Twitter users called for the university to fire psychology professor Charles Negy after he posted a tweet comparing black Americans to Asian Americans.

The tweet came amid protests across the country after an officer was filmed kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, leading to his death.

Negy has other racially divisive tweets that users pointed out to the university with the hashtag #UCFfirehim.

Here’s what his more recent tweets said in full:

“Sincere question: If [African] Americans as a group, had the same behavioral profile as Asian Americans (on average, performing the best academically, having the highest income, committing the lowest crime, etc.), would we still be proclaiming ‘systematic racism’ exists?"

“Here’s a suggestion to those who think they are being ‘screwed’ and oppressed in the U.S.: Stay in school. Be the best student possible. Avoid crime. Avoid gangs. Avoid unwanted pregnancy. Avoid drugs and alcohol. Amazing what a little common sense can do you for your destiny.”

While the university confirmed the professor’s tweets went against its values, it wasn’t made clear which action it would take, if any, citing the professor’s freedom of speech under the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

UCF President Alexander Cartwright addressed Negy’s tweets in a town hall with students on Thursday, WFTV reported.

“These posts do not reflect the values of UCF, and I strongly condemn these racist and abhorrent posts. I understand the anger it has caused many of our students, staff and faculty,” Cartwright said. “I promise you this is a matter that has our full attention, and we have launched an inquiry to quickly – but fully – evaluate this situation.”

According to the university’s faculty page, Negy has been with UCF since 1998. His research areas include “examining how people rate the seriousness of domestic violence differently depending on the race and ethnicity of those involved in the violence,” according to the website.

Sociology professor Jonathan Cox said he is on the fence about whether Negy should be fired. But other’s are not.

“I definitely think UCF should fire him,” said UCF student Megan Felder.

Via email, Negy told WFTV he’s been making controversial comments for three decades and that he’s “bi-ethnic, gay.”

He said he “probably should have given it a rest for week or so," but added that he wanted to chime in on the national conversation.

Negy’s tweets are among many posts that have gone viral on social media recently.

TikTok user Rishi Madnani, a student at Bates College in Maine, is one of many Asian allies who have posted messages online calling out systemic racism.

Madnani, who is an Indian man, referred to the model minority narrative.

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Madani, referencing the 1965 Immigrant Act, said, “The U.S. only allowed Asian immigrants in that had very high education levels or special skills. And because of this, we were predetermined to be successful. And when we were, the media painted us as ‘model minorities,' as good, law abiding citizens that were the opposite of black people."

He continued: “Remember, black Americans were not introduced to society on the base of education. They were brought in as slaves, as property. And then they were lynched and segregated against and forced into ghettos and not given jobs and they were mass incarcerated against and criminalized for petty drug crimes and so much more. These issues generationally affect their communities because it’s a part of the system. So yes, South Asians face ignorance -- casual racism, hate crimes -- but we have never in American history been systematically dehumanized and oppressed in the way that black people have.”

In a blog post for a University of Oxford exploration into race and immigration, Madeline Y. Hsu, associate professor for the Center for Asian American Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, wrote this:

“After World War II, Asians served as templates for the determination of attributes and recruiting mechanisms that made up desirable immigrants, chiefly defined by family connections, capacities to contribute economically, and strengthen foreign relations as refugee admissions. These are the main criteria for entry under the 1965 Immigration Act, which has significantly remade Asian Americans into a model minority population. Given the choice of potential immigrants from around the world, the United States has given preferential admission to those with higher-than-average levels of education; white-collar, professional, and technical employment; and thus household incomes.”

Read more about the model minority narrative on NPR and The Washington Post.

Brianna Chambers contributed to this report.