The head of Columbia University’s psychiatry department has been suspended after he tweeted a photo of a dark-skinned model and referred to her as a “freak of nature.”
“Whether a work of art or freak of nature she’s a beautiful sight to behold," Jeffrey Lieberman wrote alongside a photo of model Nyakim Gatwech.
Lieberman tweeted the racist comment when retweeting a post that falsely claimed Gatwech set a Guinness World Records title for having the darkest skin.
"It’s time I address a rumor ONCE and for all," Gatwech wrote on Instagram in response to both Lieberman's tweet and the false claim that she was awarded for having "the darkest skin" in the world.
"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," the model clarified. "I can’t imagine it’s even possible to know who’s the lightest or darkest person on the planet! Unfortunately, I believe this has been impacting my @instagram account negatively. I have worked really hard to build my page and use it as platform to promote self acceptance, body positivity, and of course, my brand partnerships, but it’s about self love above anything else. I don’t buy followers, and to those who believe otherwise, I do not need to manufacture lies for likes. It’s not my style."
She continued, "I love my dark skin and my nickname 'Queen of Dark,' but I’ve never said I’m the darkest person on earth."
Following backlash of his racist tweet, Lieberman was suspended as psychiatry department chair at Columbia's Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and additionally removed as psychiatrist-in-chief at the university's Irving Medical Center/New York-Presbyterian Hospital on Wednesday (February 23), according to NBC News.
Lieberman reportedly apologized to his colleagues in an email, calling his tweet “racist and sexist."
"An apology from me to the Black community, to women, and to all of you is not enough,” the email read in part, per NBC News. “I’ve hurt many, and I am beginning to understand the work ahead to make needed personal changes and over time regain your trust.”