Jeffery Lieberman, chair of Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry, sparked massive outrage on Monday following his racist remark referring to Nyakim Gatwech, 29, as a ‘freak of nature.’
“Whether a work of art or freak of nature she’s a beautiful sight to behold.” He had tweeted.
He was therefore suspended on Wednesday following his tweet in response to a post that had incorrectly claimed the Guinness World Records sites the model as having the darkest skin on earth – the claim of the darkest skin Guinness World Records says it doesn’t track.
Following the outrage, Lieberman deleted the tweet and apologized for the ‘racist and sexist’ remark and was therefore removed from his position on Wednesday as psychiatry department chair at Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and also removed as psychiatrist-in-chief at Columbia University Irving Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, according to an email sent to Columbia faculty and staff that was shared with NBC News.
Lieberman is his apology wrote: ‘My sincere apologies for any offense taken and indiscretions. Living and learning.’
He also apologized to his colleagues in an email Tuesday, calling his tweet “racist and sexist” and saying he was “deeply ashamed.” A Columbia spokesperson shared the email with NBC News.
“An apology from me to the Black community, to women, and to all of you is not enough,” the email said. “I’ve hurt many, and I am beginning to understand the work ahead to make needed personal changes and over time regain your trust.”
Upon Lieberman’s resignation from his role as executive director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute on Tuesday, the new acting director, Thomas Smith, denounced his actions.
‘We condemn the racism and sexism reflected in Dr. Lieberman’s tweet and acknowledge and share the hurt, sadness, confusion, and distressing emotions you may be feeling,’ Smith said in a statement.
Gatwech outrightly slammed his comments as “straight-up racism” and debunked claims of her having the darkest skin in the world.
“Coming from somebody with so much power, that was so disappointing.”
“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!” she wrote.
“I love my dark skin and my nickname ‘Queen of Dark,’ but I’ve never said I’m the darkest person on earth,” she said.