The Berkshire Conference of Women Historians took an unexpected turn when Lois Banner, a professor emerita of women’s history at the University of Southern California (USC), made controversial remarks during the event. Here’s what happened.
The Controversial Remarks
Banner’s comments ignited a firestorm of criticism as she expressed her belief that her career and life would have been easier had she been black and a lesbian.
The incident occurred shortly after a black professor spoke about racism and exclusion in academia, further intensifying the impact of Banner’s statements.
The Incident Was Recorded
Stephanie Narrow, a doctoral student attending the conference, recorded the shocking remarks made by Banner.
Narrow shared on Twitter, explaining that the atmosphere in the auditorium shifted dramatically when Banner expressed her controversial opinions.
She Refused to Apologize
Banner, who is 83 years old, reportedly refused to apologize and defended her statements.
Everyone Was Shocked
Narrow described the reaction in the room as palpable, with many attendees expressing shock and disbelief.
The incident caused an uproar, and Banner faced immediate backlash from conference participants.
The Listeners Called Her Out
Attendees called out her racist remarks, but Banner remained unapologetic and unwilling to engage in dialogue about the reasons behind the criticism.
Members Shared Their Thoughts
Paul Renfro, a member of the audience from Florida State University, described the situation as chaotic, stating that several people walked out due to the racist comment made by Banner.
The Contrasting Speech
Renfro highlighted the contrast between Banner’s remarks and the preceding speech by Dr. Deborah Gray White, which addressed the history of exclusion faced by black women in the historical profession.
The Next Speech Calmed the Situation
In a moment following Banner’s remarks, another black historian, Deidre Cooper Owens from the University of Nebraska, took the podium and delivered a speech emphasizing the need for intersectionality.
The Speech Highlighted Combating Self-Hate
Cooper Owens addressed Banner’s comments and centered her speech on love, highlighting the importance of combating self-hate.
Her heartfelt words resonated with attendees, and Narrow noted that many were moved to tears.
The Conference Denounced What Happened
The Berkshire Conference of Women Historians responded to the incident by denouncing Banner’s words.
However, a formal statement from the conference’s presidents had not been released.
Social Media User Expressed Their Thoughts
Several Twitter users shared their opinions on the incident.
One Twitter user wrote, “Maybe if she were a white man, but a black woman? Girl. Lmao. What history did she study? Because it couldn’t have been history from this planet.”
Another user added, “Historian? She’s obviously bad at her job.”
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