In June, we reported about Kayla Parker, a senior at the University of Tennessee who never thought a sociology class would change her life in a rather disappointing way.
At the time, Parker had confronted professor Judy Morelock about a test question she answered incorrectly, “Historical research on African-American families during slavery shows that…,” for which the correct answer was “D: Most slave families were headed by two parents,” instead of Parker’s answer, “C: Black family bonds were destroyed by the abuses of slave owners, who regularly sold off family members to other slave owners.”
Subsequently, Parker made a class presentation after doing extensive research, and with the blessing of Professor Morelock, about why she believed her answer was the correct one. At the time, things seemed fine. But that’s when the unexpected harassment began, according to Kayla.
In June, Parker told BET that Morelock promised to “fight” her for questioning her answers and claimed that she knew far more than any student of hers, even being white. After inflammatory Facebook posts subliminally made about Parker and threats to ruin her after she was done being her student, Morelock was placed on administrative leave and terminated later that week.
This caused more of a fury, which lead to the most surprising part of this saga. Earlier this month, Morelock allegedly assaulted her former student in an Earth Fare grocery store where Parker was shopping. In a new interview with BET, Kayla Parker described her ordeal and its aftermath.
“All of a sudden, I felt someone grab me and shove me and turn me around. It took me a second to register what was going on, even when I saw her,” Parker described. “She started staring at me and called me an evil b***h, [saying] you ruined my life, you spread horrible lies about me online.
“Then I said, 'Don’t touch me,' and then when I said that it seemed like she came back to reality and realized what she had just done. At that point, I pulled out my phone and started recording her and that’s when she walked out of the store.”
Parker ultimately did not capture the alleged assault on her phone, however, seven video surveillance cameras at the store did. According to her, she was told after the incident that she could retrieve the footage from the store and, after she returned for it, Earth Fare then said she would need to file a police report.
After Parker complied with that demand and filed a report with the Knoxville Police Department, she claims the store denied to give her the footage without a subpoena. On September 25, Earth Fare says they deleted the footage, according to Parker.
Aside from that, it would take three weeks before she was able to get an agreed order — a court-mandated document that restricts her former professor from coming into contact with Parker. If Morelock were to break those terms, Kayla would be able to file a permanent restraining order.
Interestingly, after the incident, Judy Morelock messaged Kayla’s mom on Facebook and admitted to confronting and touching Kayla. However, her version of events are different.
"I did not put my hands (plural) on her or grab her. I had a container of food in my right hand,” she wrote. “I apologize for touching her and for my hostile words, but there was nothing aggressive of violent in that half second touch.
"I allowed my temper to get out of control, came up to her while she was in a checkout lane, touched her left arm to get her attention, and told her she was an evil human being for disseminating derogatory allegations against me. When she jumped back and yelled, 'Don't touch me, don't touch me,' I knew I had made a big mistake."
A warrant for Judy Morelock’s arrest was made and, as of Wednesday (September 27), she’s been arrested. The ex-professor was taken in and charged with assault after confronting her old student. Her bail has been set at $500.
The whole incident is one Parker says she was afraid could happen. While she didn’t think it would go this far, a confrontation at some point was always at the back of her mind.
“I’ve been kind of worried about her for a minute,” Parker said. “She finished getting paid by the university at the end of July, so I figured after that happened, if she were to see me in public, nothing was going to stop her from trying to hurt me. Luckily she didn’t try to do more, probably because we were in a public setting, but that’s what I’d been afraid of this whole time and she did exactly what I thought she would.”
The incident also relays the difference between white liberalism and actual progressivism when it comes to race. Rather than listen to a student of color’s opinions on her own heritage, her professor decided to feel threatened, play the “I have so many Black friends” card and then attempt to destroy that same young Black woman online and in public.
“She claims that she can’t be a racist because she has so many Black friends and she’s taught thousands of Black students and no one has any issue about how she covers Black history, which to me means that, ‘I have so many Black friends who agree with my foolishness that I shouldn’t be held accountable.’ Unfortunately for me, I don’t agree with that and if I don’t agree with how you’re portraying my entire history in front of a classroom of predominantly white students, I’m going to say something.”
Parker also explained why she stood up when a lot of her other classmates, who she claims are predominately white, just decided to take the test and move on.
“I just kind of had enough, especially after the election with micro-aggressions, the whitewashing of history, and I just wanted to tell her that and her initial response, like phony, fake allies do, is [to] say, ‘I’ve done so much for your community in the past. How dare you say anything to me,’" Parker said.
“She tried to whitewash my history and say that her white sociologists were better than the Black slaves who actually spoke on the topic and then went out of her way to destroy a person of color who was just trying to voice her opinion about her history.”
We will keep you updated on the rest of the Parker/Morelock legal case as details become available.