A letter to the editor appeared in the March 30 issue of the RoundTable, claiming that “the African American community celebrates sportsmen and entertainers, not learned men, famous authors or scientists.” Doesn’t Black History Month celebrate black scientists, writers, artists, doctors, historians, civil rights activists, politicians and teachers, as well as sports figures and entertainers?
I, other African Americans and caucasians were incensed by this letter and glad to see a letter in the April 13 issue (“Racism Among Us”) that objected to the content of this letter. In my opinion, the March 30 letter echoed the tenets of the bigoted, small-minded TV character Archie Bunker and confirmed what many people know: Racism is alive and well in Evanston.
I was surprised and disappointed that the Evanston branch of the NAACP did not immediately submit a letter rebutting the March 30 letter, especially since the NAACP spoke out against the anti-Semitic demonstration in front of Northwestern’s Hillel House by the Westboro Baptist Church.
The March 30 letter states in comparison that Jewish people celebrate Einstein. I don’t know if this is generally true, but my Jewish friends don’t. The statement, however, did make me do some research on Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955; a theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize recipient). Einstein was born in Germany to parents who were “non-observant Jews.” He became a U.S. citizen in 1940 and eventually taught physics until his death at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. Einstein became a member of the NAACP at Princeton and “campaigned for the civil rights of African Americans.” He corresponded with civil rights activist W.E.B. DuBois. In 1946 Einstein called racism America’s “worst disease.” He later stated, “Race prejudice has unfortunately become an American tradition which is uncritically handed down from one generation to the next. The only remedies are enlightenment and education.” (Wikipedia) The disease continues, not yet extinguished by enlightenment and education.
The author of the March 30 letter conveniently ignores the fact that many, many Americans of various racial and ethnic groups are obsessed with entertainers and sports figures, with the media creating or at the least magnifying this obsession. It should be noted that African Americans do not own most of the media. The author ignores the fact that the majority of African Americans voted for President Obama. I don’t believe they thought he was an entertainer or sports figure. The author states that “the failure of 50 years of integration has shown” it has not been able to change African Americans’ “celebration of sportsmen and entertainers.” Integration and desegregation are NOT the same. Desegregation in America simply means that laws were put in place to break down Jim Crow laws. It does NOT mean that desegregated schools, etc., are integrated and offer the same opportunities to all races. Last but not least, the author conveniently does what Archie-Bunker types do: No matter how intelligent and articulate African Americans are, Archie-Bunker types find ways to dismiss their intelligence, denigrate them and label them as ignorant, irresponsible dullards. As an African American who doesn’t accept labels from Archie-Bunker types, I say to the Archie Bunkers of the world: “I’m rubber. You’re glue. Whatever you say about me bounces off me and sticks to you.”