The Volokh Conspiracy

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"Following Blackface Incident, Professor Bright Sheng Takes Step Back from Teaching [University of Michigan] Composition Course"


So reports the Michigan Daily (Francesca Duong). The "blackface incident"? Why, it's a "screening of the 1965 version of 'Othello,'" with Laurence Olivier made up in the title role as the black Othello.

Five days after Sheng showed the video, on Sept. 15, [David Gier, dean of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance] sent a department-wide email acknowledging the incident and apologizing for what students experienced.

"Professor Sheng's actions do not align with our School's commitment to anti-racist action, diversity, equity and inclusion," Gier said.

The email also stated the incident had been reported to the Office of Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX.

A letter "signed by 18 undergraduate composition students, 15 graduate composition students and nine SMTD staff and faculty members"

also called for Sheng to be immediately removed from teaching the undergraduate composition seminar, saying he failed to create a safe environment despite the fact that SMTD faculty are required to take training courses regarding racism in academia and have access to multitudes of resources. In an email to The Daily, University spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen confirmed that 100% of full-time faculty had attended these training sessions in the previous academic year.

I think that if University of Michigan students find watching a 1965 version of Othello with Laurence Olivier made up as black to "create" an "[un]safe environment," it's hard for me to see how they can deal with history classes, with literature classes, with law classes, or for that matter with life. (Thanks to Glenn Reynolds [Instapundit] for the pointer.)