Freedom From Prejudice
To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
The Crimson has always prided itself, and justifiably so, on its record in fighting all forms of racial discrimination and prejudice in our community. And yet the CRIMSON itself does not seem aware of what freedom from prejudice necessarily involves. I refer to the article in Wednesday's edition headlined: "Trolley Hits Blind Colored Student."
Tolerance means that one does not use "racial characteristics" as the basis for treating human beings differently one from the other. But freedom from prejudice is a much broader attitude of mind. It means that one does not consider the color of a man's skin as any more significant than the color of his hair, or his shoe size, or the width of his waist. It means that one does not classify men by their skin colors unless for one's purpose in a specific situation such a classifications pertinent. To put it in an extreme form, it means that one does not ordinarily "see" the color of another man's skin.
In the article I refer to there is absolutely no causal connection between the accident and the color of the student's skin. Whether the student is a Negro or a red Indian is completely irrelevant in this particular situation. The mention of his color is therefore completely unnecessary and unjustified. If Mr. John G. Simon '50 had been the victim of the accident the CRIMSON would not have headlined the story: "Trolley Hits Blond-Haired Student."
I do not mean to say that a newspaper article should never use the worlds Negro and colored. They are words describing one aspect of a person's physical appearance and should be used whenever that aspect is significant. If, for instance, Mr. Halloway had been designated by the Society for the Advancement of Colored Peoples as its outstanding student of the year, it would have been appropriate to describe him as a Negro, just as in an article about a man who couldn't buy shoes at the Coop because of his abnormally large foot it would be appropriate to mention his shoe size.
This article itself illustrates the contrast between a justified and an unjustified descriptive term. The student's blindness obviously bears a significant relation to the accident; his colored skin does not. Therefore, the latter should not have been mentioned, just as his shoe size was omitted.
I sincerely hope that a conscious effort will be made in the future to avoid irrelevant mention of skin colors and the like. I realize that we are all accustomed to notice the color of a man's skin first and foremost. It is his most striking physical characteristic. That is why a conscious effort is absolutely necessary to prevent the description of this characteristic from creeping in where it does not belong. Hans A. Wolf '49
It is the policy of the CRIMSON never to use race, religion, or skin coloring merely to identify persons in the news; the CRIMSON considers this a divisive technique. The CRIMSON made no consolous attempt to devised from its policy in the article and headline cited by Mr. Wolf. In this instance too much haste and too little reflection resulted in a journalistic error which has been regretted as much by the CRIMSON as by its readers--Ed.