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Ignorance perpetuates "wall" separating "blacks" (1)

Writes Rebecca Geisler '93 in her recent letter in The Tech ["Blacks must be more integrated into community," Oct. 12], "there is a wall around the black community which is in some cases impenetrable."

That's an interesting concept. And since I am under the assumption that there may be more readers who know as little about blacks as Geisler, I think that some elaboration on that concept is in order.

Whites and others from around the country and around the world come to MIT with all their racial prejudices and misconceptions about blacks, a race with which they have no experience. They are all ignorant.

But it is not this ignorance

that bothers me. More than once since I came to MIT have I calmly responded with "Yes, we do bathe regularly," or "Yes, my entire body is this color," or "Yes, we do comb our hair," or "No, our hair does not need special treatment to stand up like that." I am quite willing to define some term or demonstrate some dance to someone curious about my culture. But that's not usually the case.

Usually the whites who are willing to accept blacks are only willing to do it when those blacks meet their terms. Verbally they say that blacks should integrate when what they really mean is that blacks should assimilate. It's as though their attitude says, "Hey, let's put all these racial differences aside. Be as white as me, and everything will be okay."

But I'm not white; I'm black. I like it, and I'm proud of it. And until whites and others are willing to accept the fact, there will be racial tension in our society.

It's like the melting pot analogy proposed by a friend of mine in the freshman class. He says that perhaps America, often referred to as the "Great Melting Pot," is striving towards the wrong goal.

A melting pot is a place in which several different things become part of one homogeneous mixture, leaving the original ingredients unrecognizable. He says that maybe we should maintain our identities while complementing and improving on each other.

So to Geisler and all the others who think like her, please stop criticizing us and start doing your part. If you are interested in black students here, go out and start meeting them. It may not be as easy as meeting a Chinese or Korean or white person because there are only 200 of us here on the undergraduate level, but we are here nonetheless.

Please do not tell me that the wall between us is impenetrable until you have tried to break through it. And please do not criticize me for not trying to climb a wall which you may have helped build.

Albert W. Morton '92->