Who is Valerie Horsley? 'Racist' professor who mouthed F-word at Black colleague compared to Derek Chauvin

The Hamden Councilwoman interrupted her Black colleague, Justin Farmer, for not addressing her as 'Dr' and mouthed F-word

                            Who is Valerie Horsley? 'Racist' professor who mouthed F-word at Black colleague compared to Derek Chauvin
Valerie Horsley (Yale University) and Justin Farmer (Justin Farmer via Facebook)

A White Yale professor and councilwoman has been branded "racist" in change.org petition after interrupting a Black colleague and mouthing the F-word. Dr Valerie Horsley's actions during a council meeting of Hamden, Connecticut, have been slammed online, and she is now being asked to resign due to her actions.

Horsley was caught during a virtual council meeting at the town of Hamden, Connecticut, on April 5. The council was deciding on an ice rink in the town, when her colleague Justin Farmer asked about financing the rink. At that time, Horsly interjected and said, "is there ever an instance where public comment is addressed by a commissioner or someone in the administration? This is a public comment, am I mistaken?" 


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To that, Farmer replied, "That is well taken, councilwoman Horsley." The professor then shot back, "Dr Horsley, thank you," and was caught mouthing the f-word and shaking her head. The incident led to widespread condemnation of Horsley, who has also been asked to resign. Here's everything we know about Horsley.

Valerie Horsley during the Hamden council meeting (screenshot from Hamden Action Now via YouTube)

Who is Valerie Horsley?

Valerie Horsley is a noted cell biologist. She was raised by a single mother and a variety of graduate students. When she was a child, her mother was busy pursuing her doctorate in industrial engineering. Initially, she wanted to pursue a career as a physican, but decided to switch tracks to research instead. In 1998, she completed her BSc. in biology at Furman University. In 2003, she received her PhD from Emory University. Horsley then did her postdoctoral training under Elaine Fuchs at Rockefeller University. 

In 2009, she joined the faculty of Yale and was promoted to an associate professor of dermatology in 2011. Her research work has made her one of the most noted cellular biologists in the country. She also has a number of awards to her name. In 2012, she was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and the Rosalind Franklin Young Investigator Award. She has also received federal funding for her research.

So how does such a reputed scientist get thrust into politics? Horsely blames the 2016 Presidential Election. In an interview with Courant, she said, "I saw that science was under attack. The election kind of thrust me into politics." She ran as a Democrat against Republican George Logan for Connecticut's 17th District State Senate seat in 2018. Unfortunately, she lost the three-way Democratic primary but that didn't deter her. In 2019, she won a seat on Hamden's council

Councilwoman Valarie Horsley after winning a seat on the Hamden council. (@ValarieJHorsley via Twitter)

Horsley apologizes, deletes Facebook

The controversial treatment of Farmer, a Black member of the council has since drawn local, and national attention. Shortly after the incident came to light, she issued a statement on Facebook. Horsley said, "I recognize I was disrespectful towards Councilman Farmer both during the meeting and on social media afterward". Reportedly, after the meeting, she called Farmer's decision to refer to her as 'councilwoman' rather than 'doctor' "sexist". 

While she did apologize to both Farmer and her constituents, her Facebook page has since been taken down. It is unclear why, as she has not responded to requests for comment. Horsley's Twitter account is still up at the time of reporting but does not mention the incident with Farmer. It is mostly focused on promoting the work of her research laboratory and other science-based topics. 

There is now a petition calling for Horsley to be removed from the council. The page compares her behavior to that of Derek Chauvin, and said, "White council member Horsley put her knee on Black council member Farmer's neck for 41s." At the time of publishing, the petition has 185 out of the required 200 signatures when this article was published. One Facebook user has also written an open letter to Yale University, saying, "What I witnessed was Councilwoman Horsley use her white feminism to shut down Councilman Farmer and then publicly paint herself as the white woman who was victimized by a Black man."

Farmer too criticized Horsley in a lengthy Facebook post. He said, "I have been repeatedly subjected to acts of disrespect. In the interest of moving forward to do the people’s business, I accept Councilwoman Horsley’s apology. I am, however, disappointed in the leadership’s failure to speak up and more." He did not call for Horsley's resignation but made his dissatisfaction clear. Horsley has not indicated if she will step aside just yet, but there is massive pressure on her to do so.

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