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Column badly misjudged needs of black Americans

As a person of color on this campus, and in this country for that matter, I am embarrassed and nauseated by Jae H. Nam '93's opinions on the black community ["Black community needs a leader like Thomas," Oct. 18]. This obvious ignorance of the African-American situation is not only reprehensible, but utterly amazing in a contemporary world. I am not interested in debating the "blackness" of Justice Clarence Thomas or the issue of black unification because I cannot rightfully justify my opinions as I did not grow up as an African-American person. Nam apparently has trouble with this.

Nam's assertion that there is a "leadership vacuum in the black community" demonstrates his skimming of the facts. Of all American ethnic groups, none has had the quality and quantity of leadership that African-Americans have: Cleaver, Malcolm X, Dubois and Bill Jackson are just an obvious few of the multitudes of blacks who have influenced Black-American and American events. If only Nam and the numerous people of our own generation who have dismissed American minority contributions knew of this leadership, they would realize what a banner and precedent black leaders have held for all minority groups.

Besides the issues of publicized leadership, Nam discusses the "search of identity" among black youths. Nam wrote, "People may laugh at the number of labels that the black community has tried to apply to itself." The list of names debated among minorities was originally caused by the governments' ignorance of their respective cultures and therefore is an attempt at rectification.

Minorities have greatly debated this issue and do not "laugh" about it. The "objects which many black youths try to acquire" is such a laughable argument which I barely believe Nam wrote. I am quite sure that Nam (or any other "proud" American) has bought some object of value in his lifetime. Would he judge a white male as lacking "the substance of success" for purchasing something? I hope Nam will jump into the 1990s with the rest of us, and stop judging people by superficial attire.

But beyond all the arguments Nam puts forward, I question this entire judgment process. The assumption that black youths lack "pride" made by people who are so separated and isolated from the black community that they are even unaware of its leadership is very dangerous and frightening to me. Who is carrying around this "pride-o-meter," Nam, who tells you of the black community's rankings? Certainly such a filling-in-the-answers-without-knowing-the-questions borders on overt racism.

In a pluralistic society such as ours, I find Nam's ignorance devastating. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. However, only educated opinions -- ones with factual information and socio-historical knowledge -- have any value in my book.

Carlos E. Martin '92->