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Losing heritage is cost of assimilation

The Tech printed a guest column May 10 by Kevin L. Dickens entitled "Social life hard for minorities." Dickens wrote about the problems he imagines that he and other minorities face here. While I am sure that minorities do face certain unique problems, I do not think that Dickens addressed them.

In Dickens' second paragraph, he states that the social life of a black male student at MIT is abysmal for three reasons: the ratio of female to male students is so low, the ratio of black students to white students is so low, and "the best-looking black women at MIT seem to prefer white men."

Dickens evidently feels that black men should only date black women. It follows, then, that black women should only date black men, so that there is a pool of women for Dickens, and those like him.

Dickens would have been very happy in South Africa, where there were laws which prevented intermarriage between whites and blacks. The apartheid government recently changed these laws, but only after severe pressure.

Dickens stated next that, although there were 319 blacks at MIT last year, "over half of this number know very little about blacks." That is quite a thought. I can just imagine over 160 black MIT students growing up in white neighborhoods, virtually in white families, knowing nothing about ghettos, or slavery or Africa.

When the stated goal of a minority community is absorption and assimilation into the host community, the partial loss of a cultural and ethnic heritage must be accepted as part of the cost. This process has happened to many upper class black families. It has also happened to Jewish families, Italian families and Japanese families in this country. Often, it is the children that regret this loss.

I am not black. I do not know what the goals of the black people are, if such a unified group exists. But if the goal is inclusion into society, then something must be lost.

Dickens says that many blacks at MIT have an identity problem because they are insecure or ashamed about being black. Perhaps that is so. Dickens says that this attitude has risen because our country is racist. Perhaps so. But when Dickens says that the United States is "the second most racist nation on earth (behind South Africa)," I think he is overstating his case.

Kevin L. Dickens, you haven't seen racism until you've witnessed relations between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East, or Irish and English in Northern Ireland, or Koreans and Japanese in Japan. Perhaps you define racism as only discrimination of blacks by whites. You would have to, to make such a racist statement which does not acknowledge the presence of other minorities in other countries.

In his second to last paragraph, Dickens makes a thinly veiled charge of racism against MIT basketball Coach O'Brien. He claims that O'Brien did not place Dickens on the basketball team because Dickens is black, and for no other reason. I gather that this incident of discrimination is one of those uniquely black problems that black students face. But if Dickens believes that he has been discriminated against, he should take his case to the Dean's office or the Committee on Discipline. If not, then he has no right to slander O'Brien.

Dickens ends his guest column with a plea for black students to become involved with at least one "predominantly black group or social activity." Such a statement makes the reader ask what has prompted Dickens to write such a bigoted and racist column, and what he hoped to accomplish by having it published. Does Dickens advocate the social segregation of blacks and whites? Should we have separate black and white dorms? Separate student activities? Separate bathrooms? Sadly, it seems that Dickens is saying resoundingly "yes."