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RG Op-Ed: UO is right to insist upon cultural competency

I’ve just posted the beginning and end. Read it all here:

UO is right to insist upon cultural competency

Get over it!” “It’s no big deal!” “You’re too sens­itive!” “There are people with real problems in the world!” “Let it go and move on with your life!”

As an African-American woman who grew up in the segregated South and has spent the past 30-plus years in liberal Eugene, I’ve heard these messages all of my life — and they are now being played in stereo in letters to the editor regarding the recent blackface incident at the University of Oregon.

Well, let me add my two cents’ worth.

1) There are people at the UO experiencing a great deal of pain because of this incident. Understand that pain is not felt on a sliding scale. Only the person experiencing pain, embarrassment and disappointment can determine how much it hurt. Their pain needs to be respected.

2) The fact that life-threatening events are occurring in the world does nothing to alleviate the inappropriateness of a professor with more than 30 years of experience at a respected institution being unaware of the historical use of blackface, yet trying to stimulate a conversation on racial biases..

… 5) The fact that no one told her that her costume was insensitive during the party is understandable. It is common for people to be so shocked by insensitive behavior that they become momentarily speechless, especially if they have not had sufficient experience with confronting such egregious behavior and wish to avoid making a scene or offending a host.

… 7) I feel hope when I hear that some of the professor’s guests were able to recognize that the costume was inappropriate and had the will to speak up, and that university administrators heard them. This is the behavior of allies in the fight for racial justice. They should be applauded, not harangued.

8) I am hopeful that the university will use this as an indication that there are probably others who would benefit from diversity training. There are many people in liberal Eugene who cannot see the need for a well-meaning person who “loves everyone the same” to attend such training, but perhaps the professor would not be in this most undesirable position now if she had understood that good intentions don’t always work so well without knowledge and training.

Perhaps it is time for the professor and those rallying to her cause to “get over it,” understand that she harmed the institution that employs her, accept the consequences of her actions, realize that there are greater problems in the world and move on with life.

Martha Moultry of Eugene is a retired teacher and principal who has worked in the United States, Asia and Africa.


  1. Focused anger cuts 01/05/2017

    I thinks Martha Moultry makes some very strong points. She is certainly more measured and considered and effective than we saw in the hyperventilating screed from Prof. Raban. Hope the non-commentors give her op-ed some reflection.

  2. Conservative Duck 01/05/2017

    Get over it, you’re too sensitive. You keep hearing this for a reason.

    The UO is doing plenty to damage itself.

    • prof 01/05/2017

      Yes it is. How about expanding cultural competency training for new students/faculty to include academic freedom and free speech rights. After all, that is a big part of a university’s culture.

    • PBF 01/06/2017

      Just like every other human being, I’ve said some insensitive things. What keeps me from being an asshole is that I don’t just outright dismiss the person who has negative feelings about what I said as ‘too sensitive,’ especially when their opinion doesn’t fit my viewpoint of reality.

  3. cdsinclair 01/05/2017

    I’ve grown tired of the absolutists on both sides of this debate. Can we not agree that the situation is one of competing ideals on which we, as a community, are not (and likely will never be) in complete agreement on?

    I have no idea of the punishment that was doled out, but given that the grievance process does not seem to have been activated by the perpetrator, it is likely that the official discipline was not particularly harsh. I personally hope that any discipline was along the lines of a sternly worded letter in her personnel file and a requirement for some cultural sensitivity training.

  4. Jim 01/05/2017

    When classes start on January 9th if Professor Shurtz is not in the classroom then you know she got more than a 60 day suspension and the matter may not yet be resolved by formal university action, i.e. may still be in limbo.

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