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SWAMee letter misunderstood discrimination at MIT and beyond (2)

I wish to respond to Timothy G. Wilson '93's letter in which he speaks of discrimination and equality ["Oppressed SWAMees deserve same treatment as minorities," March 8].

As I was reading it, I began to wonder if Wilson, or indeed, the majority of us at MIT (myself included), has any idea what discrimination really means. I am a naturalized citizen of the United States originally from the Philippines, and I have lived most of my life in southern Virginia.

Yet, I can recall only one instance where discrimination personally affected me. I was in junior high at a Catholic school in Danville, VA, and I remember being on the soccer team when another private school in the area refused to play our team when they found out we had a black player on our team.

I remember feeling so empty, and the discrimination wasn't even directed to me personally. This incident happened not much more than five years ago, yet I believe, like Wilson, that "conditions are much better today than they were at other times in history."

Unfortunately, I cannot agree with Wilson's statement that our country is "a land virtually free of discrimination." In our country, there are still deep, entrenched inequalities that prevent all people from having a fair and equal chance of succeeding.

I do not wish to vilify Wilson, [although] I cannot believe that he finds himself unfortunate to "have been born without minority status." Surely, he does not wish to be a young Hispanic boy in the Rio Grande valley in Texas who cannot get a good education because the school district has little money compared to more affluent school districts.

Surely, he does not wish to be a young woman being told that she should turn away from math and science related fields because women don't perform as well in those areas. Surely, he does not wish to be a homosexual who contracts AIDS and then finds that his family will have nothing more to do with him because they don't want to embarrass their community.

I feel very fortunate to be where I am now, and perhaps Wilson should too. Wilson says that he wants "true equality for all human beings" and "all people to have a fair and equal chance to succeed."

I think he realizes that we have not reached this state yet. And the country must continue to work for equality. The gap must be closed between rich and poor, man and woman, black and white. But until this happens, we must find some way to right the tremendous injustice that exists. I sensed, in Wilson's letter, quite a resentment towards affirmative-action type policies and special-interest-support type groups. Affirmative-action type policies are one solution for solving the problem of injustice.

Any solution which causes bitterness (whether real or imagined) is not a perfect solution. But it is a solution. We cannot ignore these inequalities, and until all people really do have an equal chance to succeed, we have to continue to find a way to balance out the injustice.

And as for the special-interest support groups, I cannot comment on what they did which made Wilson feel so discriminated against. But as these groups struggle to overcome great inequalities, is it not reasonable to expect them to take more drastic actions as long as they believe their voice isn't being heard?

I personally do not condone such actions. But if you weren't being heard, what would you do? You would probably speak a little louder the next time, and a little louder the next time after that.

I honestly did not mean to be so critical of Wilson. Perhaps our country is "virtually free of discrimination" on some level. Yet, until we collectively realize the magnitude of the inequalities present in our own country, we cannot even begin to truly correct the injustice.

Rex F. Babiera '91->