Gopal tweeted that people could report the petition to change.org for harassmentNoella Chye

Content note: This article contains detailed description of racist discrimination

Cambridge University has tweeted in defence of its academics’ right to express opinions and has condemned personal attacks and abuse, after a petition to fire Dr Priyamvada Gopal, English academic and Churchill fellow, was launched yesterday, triggering a wave of online abuse towards the academic.

The petition, ‘Fire Cambridge Professor for Racism’, was launched on petition site change.org after Gopal tweeted, “I’ll say it again. White Lives Don’t Matter. As white lives” and “Abolish whiteness”, on Tuesday evening.

Gopal shared examples of the racist and hateful attacks she has received to her university email since the petition was launched, including from an anonymous person who said she was “disgusting inside and out”, and, “[i]f you don’t like white people, pack up your sh*t and go home. Problem solved.”

Other examples include, “...On another note, kill yourself. Else someone might show you which lives really Matter :)” and “Why would you want to abolish whiteness anyway, we’ve given you everything you own, without us you’d still be chasing Bush meat with a blowpipe,” from the British Referendum Party.

The petition claims Gopal’s “statements are racist and hateful and must not be tolerated by Cambridge University leadership. Cambridge must move to immediately discontinue their relationship with Ms. Gopal in the best interest of all students and the community at large.”

In the thread to the tweet, Gopal had contextualised the tweet further, adding “Yes, all lives matter. White lives as white do not.”

With the petition reaching over 1,000 signatures, Gopal said that, although she was not “especially fussed” by the petition, people could report it to change.org for harassment.


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Whilst not referencing Gopal directly, on Wednesday evening, Cambridge University tweeted “The University defends the right of its academics to express their own lawful opinions which others might find controversial and deplores in the strongest terms abuse and personal attacks. These attacks are totally unacceptable and must cease”.

The news comes as anti-racism protests continue around the world following the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis at the end of May.

Far-right groups have counterprotested the Black Lives Matter movement, often using ‘White Lives Matter’ or ‘All Lives Matter’ as counter-slogans.

In the UK, a banner saying ‘White Lives Matter Burnley’ was carried over the Etihad stadium on Monday. The incident has been widely condemned, with Burnely saying they were “ashamed and embarrassed”.

Iffy Onuora, the equalities officer for the Professional Footballers’ Association, explained to BBC Breakfast, “The words themselves aren’t offensive, it’s just the context. It’s the rejection of the conversation we’re having at the moment. That’s what it represents.”

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