A University of Michigan music professor is dealing with backlash after exhibiting the 1965 film “Othello” with star Laurence Olivier in blackface, a college official introduced.

David Gier, dean of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, mentioned a brand new professor shall be taking up the class beforehand taught by Bright Sheng to “allow for a positive learning environment,” The American Spectator reviews.

“Professor Sheng’s actions do not align with our school’s commitment to anti-racist action, diversity, equity and inclusion,” Gier mentioned final week, including that Sheng has been reported to the Office of Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX.

Sheng, an completed professor, composer and conductor, teaches composition on the faculty. 

Students who noticed the film have been upset that Olivier’s face was coated in Black make-up as he portrayed Shakespeare’s Othello. One of Sheng’s college students, Olivia Cook, instructed the Michigan Daily that she was “stunned.” 

“In such a school that preaches diversity and making sure that they understand the history of POC in America, I was shocked that [Sheng] would show something like this in something that’s supposed to be a safe space,” Cook mentioned.

Ann Arbor, MI, USA – July 30, 2014: An entrance to The University of Michigan. The University of Michigan is a public analysis college situated in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


After exhibiting the film, Sheng issued an apology to his college students the identical day, calling the film “racially insensitive and outdated.” 

Following the tackle to his college students, he issued one other apology to the division.

“I am a teacher representing the university and I should have thought of this more diligently and fundamentally,” mentioned Sheng. “I apologize that this action was offensive and has made you angry.  It also has made me lost your trust.”

In his apology, the Chinese-born professor listed the quantity of African American individuals he has labored with prior to now, which was criticized by college students as effectively. They felt Sheng was solely trying to defend himself, by name-dropping the quantity of Black people he has helped all through his profession. 

“I feel like there’s still a lack of trust there because none of us think he is actually sorry,” mentioned one nameless graduate pupil. They perceived his regret as “the bare minimum.”

Sheng later emailed the Daily regrets for his preliminary apology. 

“I simply try to say that I do not discriminate,” he wrote. “In retrospect, perhaps I should have apologized for my mistake only.”

The 1965 film was launched on the top of the civil rights motion and solely performed in theatres for 2 days.