USC professor offended Black student with alleged racist 'welfare' joke, and no one was laughing

A University of South Carolina professor reportedly made a racist joke at the expense of his black student. The student approached him after the class and shared a recording of their interaction on Twitter.

Twitter/@AngelaNazirah

Twitter/@AngelaNazirah

Angela Bogni, a junior at USC was in an American Government class where Tobias Lanz was teaching about welfare. When Bogni’s phone rang during the discussion, Lanz joked:

"That may be the welfare office calling you now."

Bogni, who narrated the incident in a series of tweets, said that none of the over 200 students in her class laughed at the professor’s insensitive joke.

After the class, Bogni, 20, approached Lanz and told him she did not “appreciate” his comments. Lanz, however, said he didn’t mean anything by the remark and that it wasn’t directed at her.

Twitter/@AngelaNazirah

Twitter/@AngelaNazirah

Bogni posted the video of their encounter along with a note explaining why she didn’t let the matter slide. Bogni said the professor already had a history of making such insensitive remarks, and added:

“USC has not had a good year when it comes to minorities and racial issues on campus. And if I don’t speak up, he could continue to get away with his rude and embarrassing comments.”

Bogni’s tweets went viral and attracted divided comments from those who thought the professor was wrong and others who said the junior was overreacting.

Meanwhile, a couple of other students also came up in the thread to confirm that Lanz is known for making racist remarks.

Twitter/@AngelaNazirah

Twitter/@AngelaNazirah

USC president, Harris Pastides, also replied to Bogni’s tweet, saying:

"I'm sorry for what you experienced today and deeply troubled by comments that perpetuate racist stereotypes. This is not representative of @UofSC. We stand with you. Dept Chair Todd Shaw will be in touch with you directly #NotOnOurCampus."

Twitter/@AngelaNazirah

Twitter/@AngelaNazirah

According to WIS News, Bogni said she wasn’t interested in having the professor lose his job; she only wanted him “to start thinking about the things that he says."

"His words have a huge impact on people and the way they think," Bogni said. "His joke enforced a negative stereotype we as African Americans have been fighting to shake since the '80s ever since [President Ronald] Reagan created the ‘welfare queen.’”

Lanz issued an apology following the incident. It read in part:

“I made a joke last week that was never intended to offend anyone. Unfortunately, it did and I am sorry. I am truly saddened and shocked by this turn of events because I value the relationship I have with my students. In my 24 years at USC, it has never been my intention to offend. I look forward to speaking with Ms. Bogni personally as we move forward.”

 

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