Campus News

Professor acknowledges, apologizes for wearing blackface in past

Professor admitted to wearing blackface for a performance at the Overture. 

Image By: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

UW-Madison counseling psychology professor William Hoyt apologized to colleagues and students after disclosing that he donned blackface during a performance at the Overture Center in the early 2000s. 

Hoyt sent other department faculty members an email Monday apologizing for causing discomfort when he admitted during a game of “two truths and a lie” at the department awards ceremony to participating in “blackface or really brown face.” 

According to the email, Hoyt, then a member of the Madison Opera Chorus, darkened his face and hands in a production of “The Pearl Fishers.” 

Hoyt said he shared this information with his colleagues to take responsibility for his actions and open up a dialogue with his department. 

Hoyt said he is also “uneasily aware” that photos of him in blackface from the performance are likely circulating publicly online. 

“I have been seeing the level of pain and anger that similar images engender,” Hoyt said in the email. “Still [I] felt a little sick that a situation that felt natural to me at the time might cause distress and a loss of confidence in my good will.” 

After finding out about the situation, UW-Madison Director of Media and Relations Meredith McGlone, said the university does not support Hoyt’s actions. 

“White actors altering their skin to portray characters of other races was once a commonplace theatrical practice that is rightly being questioned and challenged today in recognition of the harm it causes to people of color,” McGlone said. 

McGlone said since Hoyt did not violate any university policies, there will be no action taken against him. No other CP faculty could be reached for comment. 

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