Thornhill said he decided to title the course “White Racism” because he believes it accurately signifies the material.
“I understood that many white Americans, and some people of color, would find it provocative,” he told CNN.
The professor said he wasn't surprised when he was besieged with messages -- most of them negative -- and some hate mail in the days and weeks after the course was announced.
He said he was shocked by the reaction but was not backing down.
“It is not my job to provide white people with comfort,” he told CNN.
Thornhill said his course is about a search for truth.
“My White Racism course is not anti-white; it is anti-white racism," he said in a written statement sent to CNN and other news outlets. “Clearly, not all white people are racists; some are even anti-racist. However, all people racialized as white derive, in some measure, material and psychological benefits by virtue of being racialized as white.”