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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Oregon Tax Prof Nancy Shurtz Issues Apology For Wearing Blackface To Halloween Party; Dueling Online Petitions Seek Signatories

Oregon 2

Following up on my previous posts:

Register-Guard, University of Oregon Professor Who Wore Blackface on Halloween Apologizes:

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 make up 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.

Oregonian, UO Law Professor Put on Leave for Blackface Costume Is Former Diversity Committee Chair:

The law professor who wore blackface at a Halloween party is a distinguished member of the University of Oregon faculty who's taught at the school since 1982 and once served as chair of the law school's diversity committee, according to her resume.

The 68-year-old professor is an expert on tax policy and estate planning and has written for Estate Planning Magazine since 1990. ... She was paid $163,588 during the most recent school year, according to UO records, and was teaching classes this fall. The law school offers a scholarship in Shurtz's name, thanks to an anonymous donor's gift in 1994, one of dozens listed on the school's website. Shurtz is also one of four professors currently awarded a Bernard A. Kliks endowed professorship, which are given to faculty who've "demonstrated strength in teaching, high ethical standards and having made significant contributions to the legal community," according to a UO statement. ...

Moorisha Bey-Taylor, another law school graduate, started an online petition asking for the professor to resign. As of Thursday afternoon, the petition had more than 700 signatures [1,102 signatures now].

On Friday, a separate online petition backing Shurtz popped up. Larry Haun, a retired lawyer with no ties to UO, said he started the petition because he was "dismayed at the intensity of the backlash" [55  signatures now].

National Law Journal, Outrage Spreads over Law Prof’s Blackface Costume:

The legal academy is responding with outrage and disgust that a white professor at the University of Oregon School of Law wore blackface to an off-campus Halloween party attended by some fellow law faculty and students.

Some colleagues are calling for Nancy Shurtz’s resignation and professors elsewhere are saying the incident is a symptom of a deeper problem with race on law campuses. ...

Shurtz’s actions, “were clearly a deplorable instance of insensitivity,” said Aaron Taylor, a professor at Saint Louis University School of Law who is also the executive director of the Law School Survey of Student Engagement, which each year queries a large sample of law students about their campus experience. “Ironically, by donning blackface Shurtz further unmasked the failures of law schools to foster truly inclusive environments,” Taylor said. Research shows that black law students often don’t feel included in their law school communities and have fewer connections with fellow students and professors, Taylor added. “Having to navigate spaces in which one feels merely tolerated–and sometimes unwelcomed–has tangible effects on classroom performance and health and wellness,” he said. “Legal education must do better.”

Rose Cuison Villazor, a law professor at the University of California, Davis School of Law who also serves as the chair of the Association of American Law School’s Minority Groups section, said she was shocked and disappointed by Shurtz’s actions. “I wouldn’t have expected a law professor to do something like this,” she said. “There’s a code of civility and common decency that all people should abide by, and certainly a law professor. I consider my job a privilege because I’m able to model to my students how we should treat other people.”

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/11/oregon-tax-prof-nancy-shurtz-issues-apology-for-wearing-blackface-to-halloween-party-dueling-online-.html

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Comments

For heaven's sake. Do we or do we not live in a free country? Calling for a resignation is just plain silly. Those objecting should be glad they have the right to express themselves.

Posted by: carlis nixon | Nov 5, 2016 6:45:07 PM

I think Nancy made a mistake, but trying to fire her over this is in my opinion outrageous, and will do little to contribute to Oregon's reputation for anything but political correctness

Posted by: mike livingston | Nov 6, 2016 2:46:45 AM

She should have dressed up as Stalin, Pol Pot, or Che. Everyone would have been fine with that at Oregon.

Posted by: anymouse | Nov 6, 2016 7:51:29 AM

After she abases herself sufficiently (does yet another public self-critique and attends a cultural sensitivity retraining course), all will be forgiven until next time. In fact, the next time this happens, to someone else, she will make sure to be the most zealous of the accusers, to leave no doubt about her ideological purity.

Posted by: MB | Nov 6, 2016 8:48:00 AM

Fired? She should be hung in the stocks and be subject to whippings and physical abuse for such a vile offense. What she did is worse than slavery, it's the worst thing a person can do. She is the worst person in America, and it's even worse than that, she's white. Just look at her, smiling her white devil smile of oppression and injustice. She's a racist witch! Burn the witch!

What's even more delicious is she is a hand-wringing leftist who thought this would be a good way to discuss racism in society. OMG, what a moron. Only a professor could be that stupid. Lady, you are white, and you may not have a discussion about racism unless you first agree that you are a racist and that your white privileged blinds you to all the subtle ways that you are a racist. And only after you have fully confessed your racism through endless apologies and grovelling to the race diviners, can you hope to be educated. To be cleansed from racism, you need to be educated by "people of color" over long periods of time, and at great expense, to fully realize the magnitude of your racist crimes--and the crimes of your people. This may take a lifetime, sadly, before you can be reintroduced into society, and you are already kind of old. There is no hope for you.

Posted by: Ubu Roi | Nov 7, 2016 5:46:50 AM

These stories, coming up almost weekly, closely resemble the Stalinist USSR during the late-1930s show trials. To remain safe, one had to move quickly, repent of thought crimes, and be willing to denounce those who didn't act as quickly.

Those who'd like to explore that further might read Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darkness_at_Noon

Ignore the part about Bill Clinton's claim that he was suffering similar persecution during his sex scandals. He was guilty as heck, as well all know now.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Nov 7, 2016 7:48:32 AM

This is the world that leftist academia worked for and wanted since they began their long march into the institutions back in the 1960s. So I really cannot get worked up about it.

Revolutions always eat their own (except our Revolution that is). So when left wing academics complain that they are being attacked, I cannot not get motivated to care. They remind me of the Trotskyites in the 1930s, complaining about Stalin in Russia and his supporters in Western parties. They were not complaining that Stalin was repressing people, only that he was repressing Trotsky.


Posted by: Room 237 | Nov 7, 2016 8:57:49 AM