Playing a blackface video isn’t fireable. It shouldn’t be okay.

The cover image of the 1965 National Theater Company’s production of “Othello.” Laurence Olivier’s blackface was widely condemned at the time. (Image editing courtesy of Sadhana Ramaseshadri and Sammy Sussman.)

By Sammy Sussman

Almost three weeks ago, my classmates and I were shown a blackface video in class without warning or discussion. Our semester was supposed to be spent “analyzing Othello, from Shakespeare to Verdi, to give [us] an overall sense of how to form an opera libretto.” To begin, our professor decided to play the 1965 National Theater Company