A Columbia University Doctor Was Suspended After A Complimentary Tweet About A Black Woman. Students Want Him Fired.

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A top psychiatrist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center commented on a photo of model Nyakim Gatwech, who is of South Sudanese descent, and now the doctor’s been suspended – with students demanding he be fired.

On February 21, psychiatrist Jeffrey Lieberman quote-tweeted an image of Gatwech. The original tweet said that Gatwech was “not a work of art made of black stone or granite.”

The tweeted added, falsely, that Gatwech is “in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the darkest skin ever seen on earth.”

Lieberman quote-tweeted the image and tweet and added: “Whether a work of art or freak of nature she’s a beautiful sight to behold.”

This tweet, which had nothing to do with Lieberman’s job at Columbia, caught the attention of Gatwech, who posted it on her Instagram account. Gatwech underlined the words “a work of” and “or freak of nature,” but did not say she found the phrases offensive. She did, however, take issue with the original tweet’s claim that she was in the Guinness Book of World Records for her skin color.

“It’s time I address a a [sic] rumor ONCE and for all. I have no idea where it originated, but my manager first brought it to my attention in 2020 and although we’ve denied it to multiple fact-checkers, clearly it’s still floating around even after @guinnessworldrecords stated that it does NOT monitor skin tones. I can’t imagine it’s even possible to know who’s the lightest or darkest person on the planet!” Gatwech wrote.

Lieberman’s tweet caught the attention of someone at Columbia, prompting him to send an apology to his peers prior to his suspension. In his email, Lieberman apologized for his “racist and sexist” tweet, The New York Times reported. He also said he was “deeply ashamed” of his “prejudices and stereotypical assumptions.”

“An apology from me to the Black community, to women, and to all of you is not enough,” Lieberman wrote in the email, according to The Times. “I’ve hurt many, and I am beginning to understand the work ahead to make needed personal changes and over time to regain your trust.”

Lieberman was suspended and “removed from his position as psychiatrist-in-chief at Columbia University Irving Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital,” the outlet noted.

That all happened in late February. The College Fix reported that students don’t think Lieberman was punished enough for his tweet, which may have been poorly worded but was clearly meant as a complement to Gatwech. A group of unsigned psychiatry residents and graduates wrote an open letter on March 6 demanding Lieberman be fired as a faculty member, claiming his tweet was just one example of a “pattern of insensitive and offensive behavior.”

The letter claimed his tweet was “clearly racist and sexist” and a “brazen dehumanization of black women.” Further, the residents and graduates claimed Lieberman’s wording “so clearly recall structural violence perpetrated against historically marginalized communities.”

“…His permanent removal is one of many ways we can demonstrate to our community that regardless of status and title, Columbia has zero tolerance and is committed to combatting prejudice and bias in medicine,” the letter said.

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