Black professor declared racist over hoodie ban
A slangy “dress code” included in a computer science course syllabus at historically black college North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University has reportedly been removed after social media users complained it was “anti-black,” despite its author being a black man himself, Forbes reported on Thursday.
The instructor, named by several Twitter users as NC A&T professor Derrick LeFlore, warned his undergraduate students that “Bonnets, Durag [sic], Hoodies, Booty Shorts, Coochie Cutter Shorts, Twerk Shorts” were forbidden in the classroom.
“If you wear it to bed or the club, don’t wear it to [class],” the syllabus, posted to Twitter last week, warned. LeFlore appeared to request a “business casual” dress code from his students, though the full text of the dress code was cut off in the posted screenshot.
While the professor is himself black, the selection of clothing items he chose to forbid – and the language he used to describe them – led some to accuse him of anti-blackness.
The hoodie ban in particular got a hostile reaction, with several commenters drawing a qualitative distinction between the garment and mere booty shorts (or twerk shorts) in terms of both utility (classrooms get cold) and decorum (“people literally wear hoodies to jobs now,” one user pointed out).
The hoodie took on fraught political significance after the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old black teenager Trayvon Martin by amateur neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman when Fox & Friends TV host Geraldo Rivera blamed the oversized hoodie Martin was wearing for firing up Zimmerman's suspicions, urging black parents to keep their kids away from similarly sinister sweatshirts.
Other commenters argued it wasn't so much LeFlore's choice of forbidden garments that constituted an anti-black dog whistle, but his terminology. It was inappropriate for a male professor to be using terms like “coochie cutter” in an official document, even amounting to sexual harassment, some said.
While some defended the beleaguered professor, reasoning he was just trying to inculcate a sense of professionalism by using the kind of casual vocabulary he thought would connect with students, commenters were claiming by Wednesday that he had deleted the offending text.