University of Oregon law professor Nancy Shurtz, who wore a costume that included blackface at a private Halloween party, released an apology on Friday through Pat Walsh, the media relations professional hired by Shurtz’s attorney.
The statement reads:
“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.”
Shurtz is under investigation by the UO Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, which will determine whether Shurtz violated university policy. She has been placed on administrative leave by Dean of the UO Law School Michael Moffitt.
Walsh declined to comment.
Moorisha Bey-Taylor, a UO law student, circulated a petition on Nov. 2 demanding Shurtz’s resignation. The petition has collected more than 1,022 supporters. Twenty-three UO law faculty members released a statement on Thursday calling for Shurtz’s resignation.