Friday, November 19, 2021

This is very reminiscent of Pol Pot's Cambodia...the absolutism is obvious and dangerous.


An English professor at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, issued a two-page apology to his students for having a discussion about blackface in class. 

What are the details? 

Associate professor of English William Pritchard is apparently eating crow after he dared discuss the use of blackface in film while showing a 1964 clip of Laurence Olivier in blackface in "Othello." 

Following the controversy, at least 11 students demanded that Pritchard make amends for the grave error by writing a "well written apology, two pages in length or longer." The demand accompanied a request that the professor attend a racial bias training workshop and was ultimately presented to College of Arts and Science Dean Bruce Suttmeier, associate dean and professor of rhetoric and media studies Daena Goldsmith, and associate professor of English and department chair Karen Gross.

The class also insisted that Pritchard read his apology letter aloud to the class. 

A copy of Pritchard's letter, obtained by the College Fix, issued apologies for the discussion, as well as for sharing the "Othello" clip during class in October. demanding Pritchard's apology, student Claire Champommier wrote, "After this was shown to us, our professor asked if Othello being played by a white man took away from the performance. Our answer is yes, because the actor was in blackface, an inherently racist performance from its origins."

The students' letter continued, "Blackface — and any other practice that alters one's appearance, poise, and vernacular to the stereotype of a group of people, especially of race — dehumanizes the identity of marginalized people into a stereotype one can wear as a costume. Whitewashing (which includes blackface and yellowface) profits off a group's oppression, but never has to experience the consequences of living that identity. Makeup can be washed off, but POC have to live with the violence that comes with being part of a marginalized group." 

The 11 students who signed the letter added that Pritchard's discussion "facilitated an argument as to whether or not whitewashing was acceptable, and this made the students — especially students of color — very uncomfortable."


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