Law Professor Fired for Racism After Saying Some Black Students Do Poorly in Her Class


In Philip Roth’s novel “The Human Stain,” set in the late 1990s, college professor Coleman Silk is forced out of academia after being baselessly accused of racism. While taking attendance one day, Silk inquired aloud about two students who had failed to attend any of his classes for the first five weeks of the semester. “Does anyone know these people? Do they exist or are they spooks?” Silk asked. The two students happened to be black (something Silk did not know, since he had never seen them), and upon learning of Silk’s remark, they accused him of racism and insisted he be fired. Of course, Silk had not used the word “spooks” as a racial slur but to mean invisible spirits or ghosts. Although Roth’s book was written over 20 years ago, it presciently foresaw today’s cultural phenomenon where every statement, however benign and accurate, must be refracted through a lens of isms and phobias.

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