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Ignorance perpetuates "wall" separating "blacks" (2)

Last week a letter by Rebecca Geisler '93 appeared in The Tech ["Blacks must be more integrated into community," Oct. 12], voicing her concern about how "blacks" at MIT interact with the white community. As two international students who are not white, we were disturbed by certain generalizations and assumptions she made.

First, Geisler says that at MIT "there is a wall around the black community, which is in some cases impenetrable." But Geisler does not tell us exactly who or what this "black community" is. If Geisler has not noticed, international students form 10 percent of the undergraduate population at MIT, and not all of these students are white.

There are African and Caribbean students here, who Geisler may also consider "black." As a Jamaican and as a Gambian, we wondered if we were the ones who walk around MIT with a social "wall" surrounding ourselves. We don't think we do, nor do we think we belong to any group that does.

In fact, we come from countries where one's integrity is measured largely by one's hospitality and generosity towards others. We keep our homes open and will willingly offer food and drink to the unexpected guest.

The many North Americans who visit our countries each year to enjoy the warmth of our climate and of our people can attest to this sociability. Consequently, to imply that we are anti-social, that we are apprehensive about meeting "whites," unfairly represents the way we were brought up and is to a degree insulting.

Nonetheless, Geisler appears to have written the letter with apparent good intentions, speaking for those that genuinely want

to integrate themselves with the "black community."

But the mere use of the term "black community," an over-simplified expression that suggests an inability to view the group as a culturally varied one, already says a lot about how separately she perceives herself in relation to these people.

How does Geisler expect to meet people and to have them feel comfortable around her if from the outset she is manifestly preoccupied with differences, like color, rather than similarities, and if she sees the person not as an individual, but someone belonging to some over-generalized group, separate from her own?

Geisler implies that MIT is in general an integrated place, that a reluctance to integrate is a problem peculiar only to a certain "black community."

We ask Geisler to look around. Look at the 33 different living groups scattered throughout Cambridge and Boston, some of which have erected their own walls around themselves. Look at how the freshman housing proposal was rejected overwhelmingly last year, and at the separatist nature of rush, and ask yourself just how integrated we really are.

Colin McGregor '92->

Yusupha Jow '92->