A high-ranking University of Alabama faculty member overseeing student affairs resigned from his position on Thursday after he came under scrutiny for a series of truthful tweets he previously posted about slavery, racism and American history. James R. Riley, the University of Alabama’s now-former assistant vice president and dean of students, abruptly quit Thursday afternoon, student and university leaders confirmed to the school newspaper, the Crimson White, which first reported the news. He had only worked there for seven months.
While Riley’s past tweets were not necessarily being blamed for his resignation, he quit after the conservative and many times racist website Breitbart published a report bringing attention to his Twitter activity. But a closer look at the tweets in question begged the question: Where are the lies?
One tweet that was nearly two years old said that the American flag “represents a systemic history of racism for my people. Police are a part of that system. Is it that hard to see the correlation?”
That assertion, of course, is not far-fetched and has been backed up plenty of times by myriad reliable sources not named James R. Riley.
Another tweet, also from 2017, addressed white privilege and the myth of reverse racism.
“I’m baffled about how the first thing white people say is, ‘That’s not racist!’ when they can’t even experience racism,” he tweeted in October of that year. “You have 0 opinion!”
It was unclear what role the University of Alabama administration played in Riley’s resignation, but the fact that he had only worked there for seven months and quit so abruptly could suggest that his experience on the Tuscaloosa campus had been anything but welcoming.
The school has been regularly involved in racist incidents in recent years, including hateful videos starring a white student who was throwing around the N-word. Last year, a student organization booked a white supremacist to speak on campus about, of all things, diversity. Nevermind the fact that Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey just apologized last week for participating in a racist skit while wearing Blackface in college.
The university announced Riley’s appointment in December and his first day on the job was in February. Riley served as the executive director and chief operating officer of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., a historically Black fraternity, before coming to the University of Alabama.
Riley, whose Twitter account had been deleted as of Friday morning, did not issue any statement following his resignation. It looks like the University of Alabama was staying pretty tight-lipped on the topic, as well.
“Neither the university or Dr. Riley will have any further comments,” Steven Hood, associate vice president of student life, told the Crimson White in an email sent late Thursday afternoon.