SUNY Prof. Nicholas Powers: ‘Seeing Poor White People Makes Me Happy’

SUNY Professor Nicholas Powers
GroundZero magazine/YouTube

A professor at SUNY Old Westbury wrote in a blog post entitled “Seeing poor white people makes me happy”  that he considered kicking a homeless person in the face because he was a “white boy.”

Earlier this month, SUNY Old Westbury Professor Nicholas Powers penned a column entitled “Seeing poor white people makes me happy.” The column, which is as disturbing as the title suggests, was removed after criticism, although archives of Powers’ article are available.

“Should I kick him in the face? Hard? No, chill, he’s not worth it,” the column, which was highlighted by The College Fix this week, begins. “But why is this white boy begging for money in a Black neighborhood? Is he stupid?”

In a particularly bizarre section of the column, Powers recalls a second encounter he had with the same white homeless person. Powers details his thought process as he passes the young man on the street as he was asking passing strangers for something to eat.

The other day I jogged up the subway stairs and saw the homeless white boy again. “Can you get me something to eat,” he barked out to the river of people passing by. “Someone stole all my shit!” Scabs covered his mouth. He was sunburnt and thin. I ignored him but thought “Baby, you stole all mine.” I glanced at his blanket, shopping cart and books. Who is he? Why is he here? Where are his people?
I stopped myself. It’s the Martin Luther King Jr. life-coach again, saying, “Love your enemies! Get to know them as people.” No Dr. King! 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.
SUNY Old Westbury spokesman Michael Kinane told Campus Reform this week that the column was “distasteful” and “hurtful.”

“Associate Professor Nicholas Powers authored an article related to issues of race and class that used language that was distasteful and hurtful regarding a white, homeless person. Dr. Powers’ statements in no way represent or reflect the values or viewpoint of SUNY Old Westbury,” Kinane said in a brief statement. “The points of view expressed were those of Dr. Powers alone and are protected under his right to free speech. 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.”

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