One college couldn’t deal with the radical views and critiques of a Black queer man so they decided to fire him. Dr. Jonathan Higgins was the head of Claremont Colleges’ Queer Resource Center. His leadership encompassed the consortium of California colleges, which includes Pomona, Scripps, Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd and Pitzer. According to NewNowNext, Higgins was brought on in June for his activist background and history of empowering queer people of color students. You would think in a setting and with this background, the college wouldn’t mind engaging with someone who shook things up. They did mind.
The college’s dismissal of Higgins stemmed from a few tweets he posted over the course of the year. One tweet from April 2017, had Higgins responding to the question, “Who are you automatically wary of/keep at a distance because of your past experiences?” He answered, “White gays and well meaning White women.”
A second tweet had Higgins criticizing law enforcement: “I finally have nothing to say other than police are meant to service and protect White supremacy.”
Lastly, in June, Higgins slammed #HeterosexualPrideDay which was trending during LGBT Pride month: “So y’all been real quiet about #heterosexualprideday. I mean I thought I’d see parades celebrating rape culture, homophobia and transphobia.” Higgins added, “Oh wait: y’all do that every day…”
Apparently, some people’s feelings were hurt over these tweets, with a few unidentified folks making complaints to the student-led website College Fix. One White gay student said he believed he wouldn’t receive equal treatment under Higgins. Another gay student said Higgins’ tweets concerned him “because my family is heavily involved in law enforcement and because I have many siblings and cousins, all of whom I support and love deeply, who serve as officers.” Then a transgender student said, “Only through a long, difficult journey have I arrived at the conclusion that I am heterosexual.” He continued, “Much of the success of this powerful journey comes as a result of my wonderful mentors who are open-minded to every possibility. Based on his statements on social media, it is clear that Dr. Higgins associates heterosexuality with only negative causes and that he thinks to be openly proud of one’s heterosexuality, as I am, is to ‘celebrate rape culture, homophobia and transphobia … everyday.’”
In response to Higgins’ firing, a group of 100 student affairs employees and college students sent an open letter to Collins-Eaglin, shaming the firing as a “gross injustice and serves as an act of violence and silencing of queer Black voices.” The letter continued, “The firing of Dr. Higgins sets a dangerous precedent for the field of student affairs—that those who directly and unapologetically challenge White supremacy, White fragility, and the multitude of problematic aspects of higher education and the dominant culture, will simply be discarded in favor of someone who will perpetrate the status quo.”
Higgins defended himself, saying “Baby I’m fat, Black, queer and educated. My whole life has been a fight. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. If folks don’t want to discuss the issues, why should that affect me? My existence is resistance. So I will continue to lead by example. Period. If you don’t like it y’all, simple: don’t follow.”