by Alexia Bianchi
Marta Kauffman, creator of the popular 1990s sitcom Friends, has donated $4 million to her alma mater, Brandeis University, to establish an endowed professorship in the university’s Department of African and African American Studies.
The endowment, which will “support a distinguished scholar with a concentration in the study of the peoples and cultures of Africa and the African diaspora”, was given by Kauffman, who has publicly expressed guilt for only casting White actors in the sitcom’s lead roles.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Kauffman attributed her lack of black leads to her “internalization of the systemic racism that plagues our society.”
Brandeis University’s announcement of the endowment states that Kauffman was “deeply affected” by the murder of George Floyd in 2020, and the protests that followed.
Friends takes place in New York City and follows the lives of six characters.
Kauffman has also recently expressed regret for referring to Chandler’s father with the wrong pronouns.
In 2021, HBO Max released a Friends: The Reunion documentary.
The Los Angeles Times was quick to criticize the special, stating, “At a time when the television landscape is becoming increasingly diverse and inclusive, it’s uncomfortable – if not outright inappropriate – to raise a glass to a sitcom that was so blind to the multiculturalism of the world where it took place.”
Brandeis University told Campus Reform that Kauffman’s actions were a “transformative moment in Brandeis’ history.”
Campus Reform reached out to Brandeis University and Marta Kauffman for comment. Thus article will be updated accordingly.
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Alexia Bianchi is a Senior at the University of South Florida majoring in psychology and minoring in English. She is involved in College Republicans, Phi Sigma Theta Honor Society, and serves as the VP of Network of Enlightened Women at USF. Alexia is working towards a career in politics and currently interns for Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.
Photo “Friends the Show” by Geoffrey Chandler. CC BY 2.0.