A well-known academic came under fire at a July conference for female historians for allegedly stating her professional life would have been easier if she were Black.
“Well, the Berks plenary just took a turn,” attendee and PhD candidate Stephanie Narrow said on Twitter. “A white senior scholar at the 50th anniversary plenary VERY publicly, and unapologetically, said that she wished she was Black so her professional life would be easier.”
“She was immediately called out for her blatantly racist remarks, and refused to apologize, let alone listen, to the reason why her remarks were horrifying wrong.” (RELATED: Head Coach OF Paris Saint-Germane Arrested For Allegedly Complaining Number Of Black And Muslim Players)
“You won’t change my mind, I’m 84 years old,” Banner reportedly said in response to her inflammatory statements.
Banner’s speech followed an address by Rutgers University’s Deborah Gray White about Black women in academia.
After Banner’s speech, Deirdre Cooper Owens took to Twitter to condemn her.
“The Berks Conference was a beautiful one until it was soiled by Lois Banner’s hatefully racist comments. Yes, I did speak out forcefully against her vitriol because she needed to keep Black women’s name out of her mouth,” Owens tweeted.
The Berks Conference was a beautiful one until it was soiled by Lois Banner’s hatefully racist comments. Yes, I did speak out forcefully against her vitriol because she needed to keep Black women’s name out of her mouth. Thread/1
— Deirdre Cooper Owens (@drcooperowens) July 3, 2023
Conference organizers tweeted they did not “condone or support the inappropriate remarks made by one of the speakers tonight.”
The next day the group held a “talking session” to discuss Banner’s comments.
“The board and trustees listened, took careful notes, and are planning action. The conversation is not over and the board will have a statement and a concrete action plan soon,” they tweeted after the meeting, according to the Daily Beast.
Others also shared their thoughts on Twitter regarding the controversy.
University of Colorado assistant professor Ashleigh Lawrence-Sanders suggested Banner’s speech should not be dismissed as “comments as from a bygone era.”
“Many of us have heard similarly from grad colleagues or faculty colleagues. Many, many more think the very same silently.”
Banner also reportedly said “she wished she was a lesbian because they were good at building community and organizing,” according to the Daily Beast.