A University of Pennsylvania professor caught on video making racist comments struck again earlier this week when she said that America “will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites.”
No stranger to controversy, tenured Penn Law professor Amy Wax made the statement during a panel on immigration at the inaugural National Conservatism Conference in Washington, D.C.
Wax, whose comments were first reported by Vox, also said that immigrants “are too loud” and responsible for an increase in “litter.”
“Conservatives need a realistic approach to immigration that ... preserves the United States as a Western and First World nation,” Vox quoted her saying on the panel. “We are better off if we are dominated numerically ... by people from the First World, from the West, than by people who are from less advanced countries.”
She said her position is not racist because her problem with nonwhite immigrants is cultural, rather than racial.
Attempts to reach Wax through the university were unsuccessful. However, Penn released a statement that said Wax “is free to express her opinions as provided in Penn’s policies protecting academic freedom.”
The statement also noted that Wax’s comments “do not represent the views of the institution but rather her own personal beliefs.”
That wasn’t enough for at least one Penn alumnus, particularly because these were not the first racist comments Wax has made.
In a video interview from 2017 that surfaced last year, Wax told Brown University professor Glen Loury, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Black student graduate in the top quarter of the class, and rarely, rarely in the top half. I can think of two students that have scored in the top half of my required first-year course.”
The statement was disputed by Penn Law School Dean Theodore Ruger, who later disallowed Wax from teaching first-year law students.
The Ivy League university has seen enough red flags with regard to Wax that it needs to do more, said Chad Dion Lassiter, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and a co-founder of Black Men at Penn, School of Social Work, Inc.
Lassiter said the university needs to clarify where it stands on Wax’s views.
“The university needs to have a frank discussion with the students and faculty to get a read on the pulse of her white supremacist views before they do anything,” Lassiter said. “She has belittled Black students but yet gets to keep her salary and the prestige associated with teaching at the University of Penn.
“If she fundamentally believes what she regularly espouses then she can’t be in front of Black and Brown students,” Lassiter continued. “The longer she is allowed to espouse her white nationalism the more she’ll be emboldened. What are we waiting for? Why should she be permitted to continue to degrade Black and Brown students in the fall?”
Walter Palmer, another co-founder of Black Men at Penn and founder of The Center on American Racism and Social Justice at Penn’s Graduate School of Social Policy and Practice, said Wax should be fired for her comments but her tenured status “handcuffs Penn in what it can do.”
At the same time, Palmer said, Wax’s comments have some value to people who are fighting racism.
“The truth of the matter is that the moment she is out of sight there is no more discussion about this type of white supremacy. It’s just business as usual,” Palmer said. “But she is an outlier. She will say what many want to say but are afraid to say.”
Palmer compared Waxman to Ralph Northam, the Democratic Virginia governor who refused to step down earlier this year after a racist picture surfaced in his 1984 medical school yearbook. Northam denied being in the picture but admitted to wearing blackface as a young man.
“Let them stay so that they can serve as a symbol of what they represent,” Palmer said.