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The Mail


To the Editor of the Crimson:

Harvard's ownership of stock in the Gulf Oil Company helps perpetuate racist policies that extend well beyond Portuguese Angola to wherever on the high seas Gulf tankers sail to places in the United States where Gulf operates refineries at which hiring practices and the nature of the company's community involvement should be seriously questioned.

Last summer I worked as a crewmember aboard several Texas Oil Company tankers, sometimes calling Port Arthur, Texas where both Gulf and Texaco have large refineries. My main interest at the time was filming a movie on oil pollution; Gulf, Texaco and the other big oil companies have confronted pollution with great aplomb in their advertising, but they have taken little action to change actual shipboard procedures such as cleaning cargo tanks at sea. There were no black officers aboard any of the ships I was on, though there were many unlicensed black seamen. Gulf, Texaco, Esso, and other major tanker operators control the hiring of their ships' officers through their front offices, while the unlicensed crewmembers usually come at random from a union hall.

Employment policy aboard the ships reflects to a large extent policy ashore. Port Arthur is a community of some 70,000 people, about 47 per cent of whom are black, while only 18 per cent of the 3600 employees at the Gulf refinery and 20 per cent of the 5300 employees at Texaco are black. Only two or three blacks at each refinery are in executive or managerial positions.

Although both Gulf and Texaco are enormously wealthy and their refineries at Port Arthur are the city's main industry, neither company has made any substantial effort to improve conditions in the black community. Many blacks in Port Arthur live in run-down one-story clapboard buildings on the outskirts of town while the downtown area toward the new Jefferson City shopping center sparkles with modern Gulf and Texaco stations at nearly every other corner, like alternate squares on some garish checkerboard.

Geological events fortuitously placed Texas and other parts of the world over vast deposits of petroleum. But in Texas, just as in the Middle East, Indonesia, Africa, and South America, local populations have benefited all too little from the money pouring into oily coffers far away. See ward Hindley   Graduate Student in Anthropology

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