Police stand guard outside Florida university class on 'white racism'

(CNNA Florida university posted campus police outside a sociology class titled "White Racism" after the professor was flooded with harassing emails and messages -- some of them openly racist.

"All that it takes is that one person to act on their views," said Ted Thornhill, assistant professor of sociology at Florida Gulf Coast University, in a phone call with CNN. "We've got to be cautious because you don't know what people are capable of."

Tuesday was the first day of class, and there were no incidents reported. But Thornhill's course has been creating headlines, and controversy, since it was announced last fall.

course description says the class will "interrogate the concept of race; examine the racist ideologies, laws, policies, and practices that have operated for hundreds of years to maintain white racial domination over those racialized as non-white." It also aims to "discuss ways to challenge white racism and white supremacy toward promoting an anti-racist society where whiteness is not tied to greater life chances."

The class filled quickly to the maximum of 50 students.

One, Bryan Oliva-Infante, told CNN he felt uncomfortable attending the class Tuesday because of the controversy. On his way to class he said he noticed extra university police officers nearby.

"Although I was a bit nervous, sitting through the class felt like a sigh of relief," said Oliva-Infante, president of FGCU College Democrats and FGCU for Dreamers.

"For the first time, ever, at FGCU, I was in an academic setting where the majority of people were students of color," he said. "It was beautiful to see that many of my classmates had cultural backgrounds similar to mine. One thing we all have in common was that our communities all suffer from white racism."


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