Nyakim Gatwech

Columbia Suspends Psych Head After ‘Freak of Nature' Tweet About Model's Skin Color

The university said in a statement that Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman was removed from his position as psychiatrist-in-chief at New York Presbyterian Hospital effective immediately

Nyakim Gatwech
Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for UOMA Beauty

Columbia University suspended the head of its psychiatry department Wednesday night after comments he made on Twitter about a model's skin color, calling her a "freak of nature."

The university said in a statement that Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman was removed from his position as psychiatrist-in-chief at New York Presbyterian Hospital effective immediately. The punishment came after Lieberman said in a tweet about model Nyakim Gatwech that "whether a work of art or a freak of nature, she's a beautiful sight to behold."

The tweet garnered a strong negative reaction, as people blasted it as sexist and racist.

In an interview Wednesday night, Gatwech said "Coming from somebody with so much power, that was so disappointing. I was like, this is straight up racism."

According to the New York Times, Lieberman apologized to his colleagues in an email, saying that he is "deeply ashamed" of his comments.

"An apology from me to the Black community, to women, and to all of you is not enough," the email read. "I've hurt many, and I am beginning to understand the work ahead to make needed personal changes and over time regain your trust."

Lieberman was responding to a post that called Gatwech "the most beautiful among the black beauties" and made the wildly false claim that she was in the Guinness Book of World Records for "having the darkest skin ever seen."

In an Instagram post, Gatwech said that she has had to deny that rumor numerous times, even after the Guinness World Records stated that it doesn't keep track of skin tone.

"I can't imagine it's even possible to know who's the lightest or darkest person on the planet!" Gatwech said in the post. "I love my dark skin and my nickname "Queen of Dark," but I've never said I'm the darkest person on earth."

Lieberman's Twitter account has been taken down since the comments were made.

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