University Of Oregon Professor Apologizes For Wearing Blackface

A University of Oregon law professor, who wore a Blackface on Halloween, has issued an apology for her actions.

The University Of Oregon law professor, Nancy Shurts, who is on paid administrative leave, has decided to apologize for her misdemeanor (wearing a Blackface) on Halloween. Why would she decide to pull such a joke knowing about the complicated situation with racism in America? Read more details below.

The Root

A University of Oregon law professor who came under fire after reportedly wearing a blackface costume to an off-campus Halloween party issued an apology Friday.

While the University of Oregon has declined to reveal the faculty member’s name, citing employee confidentiality, news and media organizations based in Oregon have identified her as Nancy Shurtz, a 68-year-old expert on tax policy and estate planning who has been on the school’s faculty for 34 years.

On Monday, Shurtz hosted a Halloween party at her home that was attended by fellow faculty members as well as students from the school. As previously reported by The Root, after word spread about the offensive costume, 23 faculty members from the law school wrote a letter asking for Shurtz to resign.

Shurtz has been placed on administrative leave by the university, pending an investigation. She issued her apology Friday through a public relations agency, The Register-Guard reports:

“During a Halloween party I hosted at my house, I wore a costume inspired by a book I highly admire, Dr. Damon Tweedy’s memoir, “Black Man in a White Coat.” I intended to provoke a thoughtful discussion on racism in our society, in our educational institutions and in our professions. As part of my costume, I applied black makeup to my face and wore a white coat and stethoscope.

In retrospect, my decision to wear black makeup was wrong. It provoked a discussion of racism, but not as I intended. I am sorry for the resultant hurt and anger inspired by this event. It is cruelly ironic that this regrettable episode began with my admiration for a book that explores important aspects of race relations in our society, but ended up creating toxic feelings within our community. I intended to create a conversation about inequity, racism and our white blindness to them. Regrettably, I became an example of it. This has been a remarkable learning experience for me.

I hope that all who are hurt or angered by my costume will accept my apology. I meant no harm to them or others.

Out of respect for all involved, I will make no further comments to the media until the University’s investigation is completed.” See more

The Register-Guard

Some faculty members said they can’t begin to understand how senior law professor Nancy Shurtz, who issued an apology on Friday, could ever imagine it would be OK to don Blackface.

“We are in the 21st century,” said Gabriela Martinez, associate professor in the School of Journalism and Communication. “This country has a long history of racism, and, especially at the university level, people should know what constitutes racism.”

While the blackface incident far from created the tensions over matters of racism — and sexism for that matter — on the University of Oregon campus, rarely has it broken into the open in such a raw and hurtful manner.

People of color, Martinez said, are weary of explaining racism all the time.

“I’m not going to tell a white person what constitutes racism. As a person of color, I’m tired of being the one doing your labor,” she said.

“People need to seek to educate themselves about it. People should talk more and become more familiar and become friends and seek out and get to know people who are different from them, so they learn what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. That’s what I did when I came to this country,” Martinez said. “I learned what is acceptable in U.S. culture and what is not.”

“I became friends with a lot of white people and found out what I can say and what I can’t say. You learn that and you respect that. That’s what people should do.”

Shurtz is a highly regarded expert on tax law who has served as editor-in-chief of the Oregon Bar Association’s estate planning newsletter. A feminist scholar, Shurtz teaches the law school’s courses on women and the law.

Shurtz makes an annual salary of $163,588 and holds the honorary Bernard A. Kliks professorship, an award given to “law school faculty with demonstrated strength in teaching, high ethical standards and having made significant contributions to the legal community.” See more

It’s quite difficult to imagine a professor doing something like that because well-educated and clever people, who fully understand the consequences of racist jokes, would never have tried it. Her action was utterly insensitive. If a University of Oregon professor could make such a joke, maybe it’s time to check, whether she is really fit to pass knowledge to students. A teacher is not only the source of information, he/she should serve as an example of its reasonable  application.

Thank you!
You have successfully subscribed!
We will be glad to enlighten you on
the life of the Black community.
Do you want to be notified?
Add meetup