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The University of Memphis is embroiled in a massive controversy over a makeshift trophy created by law students.
The trophy was constructed by staff of the Law Review to celebrate the conclusion of an editing project. The trophy was made from a football, red plastic lips and a black wig.
Most say it looks like Mrs. Potato Head. But black students and a local newspaper say it’s a form of blackface.
“Although no one involved recognized it at the time, the face resembled images of black face, which historically has been a horrible and humiliating means of degrading African Americans,” the Law Review staff in a blog posting.
The Daily Memphian obtained a photo which the newspaper described as a “three-dimensional caricature of a woman in blackface.”
“No one involved intended to make an item that resembled an image with such terrible racial connotations,” the posting read. “However, Law Review’s leadership should have immediately recognized what the ‘trophy’ resembled and how it harmed members of the Memphis legal community who viewed it.”
The trophy had been on display for about a week and a half before a staff member saw it and came down with a raging case of microaggressions.
The Law Review’s leadership profusely apologized for the “hurt we caused by creating the image, failing to recognize what the image resembled, and for making it visible.”
I asked the university to specify what made the trophy blackface. So far, there’s been no explanation offered.
Meanwhile, the law school went into full-blown crisis mode.
“Racism in any form is inexcusable and will not be tolerated,” Dean Katharine Schaffzin wrote in an emergency screed. “These actions have caused actual harm to students, damaged relationships, and set back our vigorous efforts to teach the cultural competence necessary for the modern practice of law. Moreover, these actions have tainted the reputation of the Law Review, its members, and the Law School itself.”
“These actions were extremely traumatic, offensive, and contrary to the core values of our law school,” she wrote in a statement provided to KWAM AM 990 News Radio Memphis.
Dean Schaffzin said many students were hurt by what she called an egregious incident. And the school is providing emergency counseling resources.
“We have referred the matter to the University’s Office of Institutional Equity for investigation into potential violations of the Student Code of Conduct,” the dean told KWAM News Radio. “We will not wait for that investigation’s conclusion to take immediate steps to address the impact of this incident on our community and to amplify our educational efforts to prevent similar instances from recurring.”
“The law school and several student organizations have been taking swift responsive action and have begun planning to offer educational programs for Law Review and the broader student body, including education in the areas of cultural competence, implicit bias, microaggressions, and upstanders,” she added. “We will consider additional action on an ongoing basis as these investigations continue.”
The University of Memphis Blackface Football Scandal will no doubt take its place alongside some of the nation’s most egregious racist atrocities — from Jussie Smollett to Bubba Wallace.
To the survivors of the 2023 Blackface Football Scandal, I recommend the following: pack your bags and get as far away from the University of Memphis as possible. Enroll in a law school that’s not infested with disciples of critical race theory.