A professor of law in Oregon betrayed her title as an advocate of institutional diversity by making headlines nationwide for a racially insensitive Halloween gaffe.
According to a number of national media outlets, Nancy Shurtz (pictured right) participated in recent Halloween festivities by posing in a blackface costume. Numerous pictures of Shurtz, 68, landed online and caused a ton of public backlash. She wore the costume at an off-campus party.
Shurtz is a law professor at the University of Oregon’s School of Law. She also serves as chair of the campus diversity committee at the University of Oregon. This latest foul-up has caused a lot of trouble for Shurtz, who has been a faculty member at the University of Oregon for 34 years.
This past Friday, Shurtz issued a public apology for her questionable act of celebration. She has also been placed on paid administrative leave as the University of Oregon launches an investigation of this matter. According to The Root, 23 faculty members have written letters asking Shurtz to issue a letter of her resignation.
Via her public relations agency, Shurtz released a statement of what she called “regret.” This statement reads as follows:
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. (The Register-Guard Newspaper)