Posted on July 6, 2023

White USC Professor Refuses to Apologize After Saying Her Career Would Have Been Better If She Was Black

Hope Sloop, Daily Mail, July 3, 2023

A white USC professor is under fire after she said during a recent conference that her career and life would be easier if she were black and a lesbian.

Lois Banner, a professor emerita of women’s history at the University of Southern California, spoke during the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians on Friday.

Banner, 83, reportedly said she wished she were a lesbian because they had great communities and that her career would have been better if she were black.

‘You won’t change my mind, I’m 84 years old,’ Banner allegedly said, refusing to apologize. Her words were shared by Stephanie Narrow, a student in attendance.

According to conference guests, Banner’s antics came just moments after a black professor had spoken on racism and exclusion in the academic space.

The shocking statements were documented by Narrow, a doctoral student who attended the Friday plenary session where Banner spoke.

She wrote that the event ‘took a turn’ after Banner – who she did not initially name – shared her extremely controversial opinions.

‘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,’ Narrow tweeted out Friday night.

The student said that the professor – who has a Ph.D. from Columbia University – was shunned for the comments which caused an uproar.

‘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.’

Narrow went on to say that the ‘room was shaken,’ calling the feeling that rippled through the auditorium ‘palpable.’

The student did not name Banner as the professor who had made the startling remarks until several hours later, but stated she had confirmed Banner’s identity.

Another crowd member, Paul Renfro of Florida State University, described the situation by saying that ‘s**t went absolutely off the rails.’

‘A lot of folks (myself included) walked out due to a dreadfully racist comment made by one of the presenters,’ Renfro tweeted on June 30.

‘She was reprimanded by several audience members, and quite a few attendees walked out,’ he said.

‘Her remarks came immediately after Deborah Gray White rightly admonished the Berks for its history of anti-Black racism,’ Renfro continued.

Renfro was referring to the speech during the plenary session in which Dr. Deborah Gray White spoke on ‘The Berks’ history of exclusion.

White’s speech addressed the history of black women in the historical profession.

The Florida State University said following Banner’s words that the conference’s history with racism ‘obviously endures.’

Banner helped to co-found the biennial event in the 1970s.

She is the author of ‘Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox,’ a biography on the life of famed Hollywood actress Marilyn Monroe.

In a statement following the incident, the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians denounced the woman’s words.

‘The Berks officers do not condone or support the inappropriate remarks made by one of the speakers tonight. A formal statement from the presidents will be made after the break,’ the conference’s Twitter account shared.

As of July 3 a formal statement had not been posted online.

The initial tweet received mass amounts of backlash, especially from those who felt as though Banner’s words were especially painful after the Supreme Court’s overturning of affirmative action.

‘For Lois Banner, a very established and senior white woman historian, to say that she wished she was Black so her professional life would be easier, yesterday of all days, when white backlash was so very vicious from the Supreme Court, is obscene,’ one person wrote in a quote tweet of the statement made by the Berks.

Even more astounding, after Banner sat back down, another black historian took the podium to address the need for intersectionality and the woman’s comments.

Deidre Cooper Owens from the University of Nebraska gave a speech that Narrow said left her in tears.

‘Addressing Banner’s comments, she chose to center love because “we just saw what comes from self-hate.” So she shared how Jennifer Morgan & Deborah Gray White shaped her into the woman/scholar she is today,’ Narrow tweeted.

On Twitter after the plenary, Cooper Owens said she spoke out against Banner’s statements because ‘she needed to keep Black women’s name out of her mouth.’

‘The Berks Conference was a beautiful one until it was soiled by Lois Banner’s hatefully racist comments,’ Cooper Owens shared.

‘More urgently, I needed that room to acknowledge the strength, brilliance, and bravery of Deborah Gray White, period. I refused to let a bigoted racist take away from Deborah’s powerfully truthful speech,’ the academic tweeted.

After Banner’s speech, White had to sit on the stage next to the woman and ‘keep her composure for the remainder of the session,’ Narrow tweeted.

‘She deserves an apology,’ Narrow continued. reached out to Banner for comment but she did not respond to requests.