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Hostility bars racial communication

By Denebola
Published: February 2011

By Robert Levine,
Volume 10
November 24, 1970

Dear Editor,
I am writing this letter in response to the “Right on Corner” which appeared in the November 10, 1970 issue of Denebola. I wish to address my comments to Tony Leonard, the student who wrote the first entry for the “Right on Corner”. In an attempt to understand his article and his intentions, I am going to raise a few questions concerning the points that Tony made.
Tony states, “I seem to feel a strong sense of unexpressed hostility hovering quietly over me in the faces of most of the white students.” I am not going to deny that Tony has this feeling, but it should be made clear that this is not general feeling of the white Newton South student toward the black people. There exist ignorant people in Newton South who are bigoted, but there are also concerned students—students concerned enough to work in Roxbury during the summer. T
ony states, “the white students have shown that they are not mature enough to realize that your average everyday Newton Negro is a lot different from a black person put in Newton.” This statement is both condescending to the white students of Newton South and to the black people who do live in Newton. It is a hostile statement and perhaps this expressed hostility is the major hang-up in resolving the problems within our school.
Just as Tony feels “an unexpressed hostility” from the white students ,the white students experience an unexpressed hostility from Tony and other black students. These feelings lead to a double barrier between white and black students, a barrier which alienates Blacks and Whites from solving their problems.
There is another point which should be considered concerning the communication of ideas between Blacks and Whites. If a Black denounces the entire white community, as Tony denounces the white Newton South community, there is little furor and people try to understand the statement. But if a White should attempt to denounce the black community with a similar sweeping generalization, he would be branded a bigot and his comments would be swept aside, as they very well should be.
But the point is that just as the white person should check himself from making sweeping generalizations about black people, the Blacks also should refrain from the use of sweeping generalizations – generalizations which tend to divide rather than to united.
The continual expression of empty generalizations is dangerous and misleading to the interested reader. Tony’s article begins to resemble the standard rhetoric that the concerned, active student is tired of reading. Just the name of the space given to Tony’s article, “Right on Corner”, is representative of a lack of creative thinking. “Right on” has become a trite, hackneyed phrase signifying nothing.Thus, the point of my letter is that I feel that the editorial series, “Right On Corner”, could disintegrate into a meaningless jargon if it does not address itself to the clarification of positions and issues. Within my letter are significant questions which could be considered in the “Right On Corner” and lead to the edification of the Newton South community.

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