Despite never having met Collins, Touré wrote about the importance of the incident many years later in his 2011 book, Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? “We kept on protesting because we saw her as a symbol of all of us—a racist attack against her was an attack on everyone,” he wrote. “If she wasn’t safe on campus none of us were. We were fighting back against the same sort of blatant racism our parents had told us about, rather than the more subtle strains we encountered more often in our generation.”
The former student media tycoon is still willing to discuss the fake case at length. While cautioning that “he doesn’t remember everything [he] wrote twenty years ago” and that he didn’t want to get into the topic on “the granular level,” Touré continued to defend his views to TheDC by phone. “It was horrifying that [the Collins incident] went that way,” he said. “But everything is not Duke Lacrosse or Tawana Brawley. These are outlier situations that happen very rarely,” he said. “For every Sabrina Collins, there’s a Central Park 5 or an Oscar Grant and on and on and on. Just because this particular incident didn’t happen doesn’t mean we don’t get to talk about racism in Emory or in society. Or that we forget the tragic things that happen to black people. The point there was, she may have done this to herself, but this in no way suggests that racism does not exist.”
Touré also defended founding The Fire This Time “as an important media voice in the ecology” of Emory. He praised his roster of invited speakers, including H. Rap Brown, as “some of the heroes of black nationalism of the 1960s.”
At Emory Touré also seems to have been shy about acknowledging how posh his actual upbringing was. He describes himself in the paper as from “Boston.” In fact, Touré attended the tony Boston-area prep school Milton Academy from kindergarten through twelfth grade and lived in the majority white town of Milton.
Touré ultimately dropped out of Emory before completing his degree in African American studies to pursue an internship at Rolling Stone Magazine.
Lauren Skowronski, MSNBC’s vice president for media relations, did not return phone or email requests for comment.