Most people feel something for homeless people and those so poverty stricken that they live on the streets. Empathy, pity or even a sense of obligation to help are all common reactions to individuals so impacted by poverty that they lack even the basic things most of us enjoy – like shelter and food.
One SUNY New York professor expressed his own strong feelings about homeless people — at least some of them — in a now deleted article online.
Literature Professor Nicholas Powers Of SUNY’s Old Westbury campus shared his thoughts earlier this month in a piece titled “Seeing Poor White People Makes Me Happy.” The piece targets all white people, but specifically highlights his enjoyment of the plight of a homeless young man begging for food in his own neighborhood
“White people begging us for food feels like justice,” the article read. “It feels like a Black Nationalist wet dream…Should I kick him in the face? Hard?”
The article appears on the aptly named RaceBaitr site. Powers explains his lack of empathy because of injustices done to his ancestors (not to himself or his own loved ones).
“Here is a descendant of murderers who killed our ancestors now begging us to save their life,” the article continued. “Today I own my anger. I want to snatch his food and say, ‘Go beg in a white neighborhood!’ And eat it. And rub my belly. And laugh.”
The website that published the professor’s ranting joy over seeing a white person go hungry and without shelter says its mission is “dedicated to imagining and working toward a world outside of the white supremacist .?.?. gaze.”
While the brand did publish the Powers’ article, it later withdrew it.
The State University of New York is a publicly funded university. Professor Powers makes over $82,000 a year, and has been employed by SUNY for over a decade. While the college referred to the published piece as “distasteful and hurtful” they indicated they would take no action against the professor:
“The points of view expressed were those of Dr. Powers alone and are protected under his right to free speech,” SUNY said in a statement. “He remains a member of our faculty. Dr. Powers has been advised that he does not speak, nor should he suggest at any time, that he is speaking for the college.”
Powers’ former pieces for the site include details about his drug use and his reaction to President Obama’s 2012 victory. Calls to Governor Cuomo’s office were referred to the school. Both the site and the professor have declined to comment on the article or on its removal.