Bright Sheng, a University of Michigan professor of composition, is his name. Born in China in 1955, Bright Sheng lost his piano when he was just a kid. He grew up to be a well-respected musician. In 2001, he was awarded a MacArthur “genius Fellowship” and twice finished second for the Pulitzer Prize.
He should be proud of his undergraduate students. Instead they demand that the university fire her for creating an unsafe environment in the classroom. Sheng was asked to resign as a teacher by the university administration. Although he has profusely apologized for making his students feel hurt, many people have strongly rejected his apology.
Is this Sheng? He watched Shakespeare’s 1965 film. OthelloAs part of a lesson on how the play was made operatic, the class used the opportunity to discuss the adaptation. Laurence Olivier (a white actor) stars in this version. Olivier wore blackface as Othello the Moor protagonist. This portrayal was controversial from the beginning and is often referred to as a racist caricature.
Although Sheng was raised and born in China, it is not known if he understood the specific American history of blackface and why this portrayal is offensive. However, he quickly apologized for showing the film.
Sheng said, “I think (that), in most instances, the casting principle was basated on the musical quality of the singers.” The Michigan Daily. The time of the film was changed and it is now inappropriate. This was very insensitive and I’m sorry.
He should have apologized. Continue reading It was not enough, however his students did not accept it. In fact, his students reacted like they had been traumatized.
A student shared his shock that “Sheng” would do something like that in an institution that promotes diversity and makes sure students understand American history, such as POC. Daily
Others signed an open petition calling for Sheng’s dismissal from teaching because he failed to create a “safe environment”. The students expressed regret that this could have occurred, even though diversity training is required for all professors.
Evan Chambers, another composition professor, supported the students, accusing Sheng of engaging in a “racist act.”
Chambers said, “To show the movie now without any substantial framing or content advisory is in its own right a racist act. As a community, we must acknowledge this.”
Sheng admitted the mistake of screening the film, but he was furious at being called a racist. He apologized, noting that he has repeatedly used people of color to lead his films and had never considered himself discriminating against any races.
His protestations about not being a racist only angered more students.
“Professor Sheng responded by writing an inflamatory apology letter to the students of the department. He listed every BIPOC person he’s helped or befriended over his career,” said a group comprised of eight composition students and fifteen graduate students. Daily “The letter indicates that his efforts have enabled many to achieve success in their respective careers.”
Graduate students spoke out about their experiences. Daily That they wanted to reach out to undergraduates in order to provide support and safety. How can we help undergraduates?” They need what? One said. They are not likely to spend any time in the same room as (Sheng).
Because I want to emphasize that Sheng is not just one outlier, but many, I have included many quotes from this student newspaper article. Sheng has been denounced as racist by numerous students, ex-students, and colleagues. Administration is now taking this matter seriously. The music department issued a statement stating that Sheng’s actions were not in line with the School’s commitments to diversity, equality, and anti-racist activity. Concerning the incident, Title IX and Office of Equity, Civil Rights at the university received a formal complaint.
University of Michigan students and professors have the right to free speech at any public institution. To punish Sheng because of his choices in class is against academic freedom principles, it’s an infringement of those university values. It is not racist to screen a film that has racially sensitive content in an educational environment. It is permissible at this stage. Sheng The university community owes him an apology for being falsely disparaged.
Imagine that you had survived the Cultural Revolution of communist China in 1956, and then come across it again in America in 2021.