The Thistle Volume 13, Number 4: June/July, 2001.

ANTI-BLACK Feelings: A Horrible Phenomenon

by Zhelinrentice L. Scott ’01

On Wednesday April 4, 2001 Dorothy Lewis, the national co-chair of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) came to MIT to debate reparations for the United States of America’s role in slavery with former-liberal-turned-conservative David Horowitz. I learned a few new things from the debate. Dorothy was adamant in expressing the fact that self-hatred runs rampant in the black community. She also implied that it was caused by outside influences, mainly slavery. The anti-black feelings that permeate society is the issue that stuck in my mind months after the debate. The thought of an anti-black feeling in this democratic society we all love, as the USA, is appalling. There is even evidence of the American Dream being ripped away from black communities because of the anti-black feeling that both white and black individuals choose to act upon. The truth hurts. Rosewood; Tulsa, Oklahoma, and a community right outside of Bakersfield, CA are all African American communities that were destroyed once they achieved a certain level of success. These examples show how the American Dream has been shattered for many blacks trying hard to make it.

The origins of this anti-black feeling are complex and disturbing to me. The first step to understanding it is to examine the current anti-black feeling. On an international level Africa is suffering. AIDS is wiping out her population exponentially and help is minimal. In the newspaper yesterday, I read that there are rumors going around that the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom are threatening to boycott the upcoming August 31 - September 7 “World Conference Against Racism” (WCAR) to be held in Durban, South Africa. Also, the President of the country of Zimbabwe is still receiving criticisms for its successful land grant program. Many citizens have stopped starving and are building up the economy in the process. Finally, Prof. Summers, the incoming Harvard President, believes that Africa’s environment has not been polluted enough, and believes that a condition of loans made to African countries from the World Bank should have conditions demanding that the country accept toxic wastes from other industrialized nations. Health, environmental, and political racism are all there in the international

On a national level the anti-black feeling continues. In the month of March the House republicans led by Representatives John Boehner (R-OH) and Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) presented a plan to place Historically Black Colleges and Universities under the auspices of a new panel that oversees youth violence, child abuse and other social programs. This proposal implies that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are a “social program” and have no educational value. This proposal completely disregards the history of the HBCUs. The HBCUs were founded because Northeastern and Harvard University of the past were racist and would NOT admit African Americans, or any other person of non-white descent. HBCUs was one solution to the racism and discrimination this country was built on. Education isn’t the only place where anti-black feelings appear. The justice system and police departments across the country are killing and jailing blacks for anything. Why is it that there are two different sets of punishments for cocaine? The cheaper form of crack has a higher penalty than for the more expensive version of powder cocaine.

Finally, racial profiling is a national, state, and local issue-it is an issue that affects MIT. Racial profiling on MIT’s campus exists in the dormitories, fraternities, and the classroom. In the dormitories, many non-black students will call the police on a black MIT student in their dorm with the cry that there is “someone suspicious” in the dorm. In addition Chocolate City, an all male living group often has to have more than enough Campus Policemen hovering at their dry parties, whereas the majority white fraternities do not have to have security like that. When it comes to rush many fraternities only want either white or jewish; white and protestant; white and whatever; and many black men are not welcome to every fraternity. However, racial profiling in the classroom is the worst. It comes from the professors, TA’s and students. The professors’ anti-black feeling manifests in lowered expectations. They refuse to see that black students need assistance in office hours, and constantly put them down instead of encouraging them like their other white students. The TA’s are the same way. When professors have a project that requires group work, the students of color in that class will tell each other that they aren’t going to work together this time. However they end up working together in spite of this promise because all the other students gather into groups without any thought to them. This ostracism lasts throughout a black student’s entire MIT career. This anti-black sentiment is real, and I hope one day it will end.


The Thistle Volume 13, Number 4: June/July, 2001.