Breaking News
More () »

SMU professor's tweet about white privilege goes viral

Mark McCoy and George Floyd were arrested for the same crime.

DALLAS — Mark McCoy hasn’t watched the video showing George Floyd’s final moments. 

He doesn’t need to.

“I know what’s on it and it’s terrifying to me,” McCoy said. “Maybe that makes me a coward for not watching it. I find it extremely disturbing.”

McCoy is a professor at Southern Methodist University, and as his family discussed the nationwide protests in response to Floyd’s death, he learned the deadly arrest began because Floyd was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill.

“It hit me immediately because I have been arrested for exactly that,” McCoy says. “The weight of the coincidence. It just sat with me.”

RELATED: Live blog: Downtown protests wrap up in Dallas, Fort Worth

Monday morning, he decided his tweet to just 150 followers would be his small way of protesting.

“I wanted to do something, and I couldn’t decide what that something was,” he said.

The tweet reads: “George Floyd and I were both arrested for allegedly spending a counterfeit $20 bill. For George Floyd, a man my age, with two kids, it was a death sentence. For me, it is a story I sometimes tell at parties. That, my friends, is White privilege.”

“I didn’t expect anything more than me to get this off my chest and what happened is really wild,” McCoy said.

What happened is the tweet got retweeted or shared more than a half-million times.  

“It is something that we just need to talk about because it exists in the world whether you would like to exist or not,” McCoy said. “I want to not have it exist.”

It’s a story that McCoy has been telling since he was an 18-year-old who unknowingly used the bill and spent a night in jail.

“I can’t imagine me telling that story again ever without me thinking about Mr. Floyd and specifically thinking about the children that he leaves behind,” he said.

McCoy believes his story isn’t being shared because of how rare it is but because so many can relate and want change too.

“That he was not treated like I was treated was awful,” McCoy said.

More on WFAA:

Before You Leave, Check This Out