'Almost Incredible'


To the Editors of the Crimson:

Your editorials on racism at Harvard are getting weirder all the time. The last one (November 25) is almost incredible, and I have to ask if you really mean it.

You constantly assume that Harvard as an institution, which somehow does not include you, is what makes many of its students who are not White, upper- or middle-class, and heterosexual feel bad. And you repeatedly insist that the Harvard Administration should make them feel better. No doubt Harvard as an institution, which has traditionally prided itself on "training the country's leaders," bears considerable responsibility for White bourgeois Americans feeling superior to others, "normal," as Klitgaard preliminarily wrote. It therefore bears considerable responsibility also for humiliating Black, Brown, Yellow, Red, and working-class Americans. And no doubt the current Harvard Administration could make students who now feel racial, sexual, and class humiliation here feel somewhat better. But you ignore another obvious problem. Evidently what makes students feel most deeply humiliated here is the way students who feel superior to them treat them. Your refusal to confront "normal" student prejudices is a cheap forfeit of a major struggle.

In particular you take the cheap line on recent threats to Black students. Why do you campaign only for the Administration to make the threatened feel safe? Why do you not campaign also, long and hard and in detail, against those who make the threats, as well as against those who "normally" foster such outrages, encourage them, enjoy them, privately applaud them? Unless Massachusetts and University Halls have dispatched youthful agents to shout racist remarks or scribble the snotty graffitti on Harvard's bathroom and elevator walls, or Faculty members and other employees commit these offenses, it must be your White fellow students who do them. Why not find out who the culprits and their cliques are, and address yourselves to them?

The same cheapness characterizes your support for the so-called Third World Center. Here are the facts, stripped of Liberal-Radical sanctimony: Many White students here make many Black students (among others) often feel awful. Some Black students ask the Administration in effect for a place to escape from them. Some White students, instead of helping to cleanse the moral atmosphere that their racist fellows have polluted, join in the demand for a Black retreat. A typical exercise in White bourgeois scapegoating and self-service. Next you will support a Harvard Black Crimson. No wonder Malcolm x thought the had to contend with devils.


Short of urging that students improve what you call the Real World, let me propose another campaign for you to undertake to make many students who now feel bad here feel better. Reduce the number of White students, quadruple or quintuple the number of Black, Brown, Yellow, and Red students, and make sure that many students of all colors come from working-class families. That way White bourgeois students would lose their monopoly of Harvard's main student institutions, many more students would live with more dignity in one little College world (not yet the Real World), and fewer would feel that honor obliged them to isolate themselves. John Womack, Jr. '59   professor of History