I found this letter to the editor that I wrote in the online USC digital library. Some folks wrote letters in response to this for several weeks after…when I find them I’ll share. Reading this brought me to tears. I could have written this yesterday. We all believed we would be so much further down the road by now. Well I’ve still got some fight left. Bring it. #FightOn
Daily Trojan Thursday September 3, 1981
Student learns hidden racism is not always hidden
By Christy House
A horrible thing has happened to me since I arrived at this university. I have become a racist. I am prejudiced against white people. I grew up in Orange County. My high school was 60 percent white, 35 percent Mexican and five percent other. I only had one black friend. I was very close to him, but I had no real sense of him as being black. I was never faced with the existence of racism until now. Being black, to me, was just like having red hair or blue eyes or any other physical characteristic. As far as I knew, everyone felt that way. USC has taught me that being black is much more than just a color, something all white people need to realize. The feeling in America is that we are on the way to solving racial problems. This couldn’t be more wrong. A recent Los Angeles Times article entitled “Is Social Racism Now Becoming Acceptable?” said “… social racism — the use of a stereotypical phrase or image by whites in casual encounters — has re-emerged with its old vengeance.” The article adds that in the last two years a new climate, called by the author “the new insensitivity,” has become fairly epidemic. The tension between races isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse. All you have to do to realize this tension is to take a good, long look at the USC list of organizations. We have a Student Union and a Black Student Union, we have the Greek system and the black Greek system, we have a campus magazine and a black student magazine, etc. Another way to open your eyes is to look closely at people on campus. Walk down University Avenue at 12:30 and what do you see? Groups of black people and groups of white people and It is true that our country represents freedom, but it is tragic that this freedom is used by organizations and men such as the Ku Klux Klan and George Wallace. It is even more tragic that these people often are accepted by the public. If the world were just, the rest of the U.S. populace would rise up at the horrible injustice of the ideals these people preach. But they don’t. Why? ‘We don’t need to worry about the Nazi Party or the Ku Klux Klan. We know what they advocate. The most dangerous and far-reaching racism is held by people who don’t even know that they are prejudiced.’ never (or rarely) the twain shall meet. In Bimkrant cafeteria at any given meal you see tables of blacks scattered amidst tables of whites. But this isn’t just a university based problem. This is a nationwide condition, a condition that is consciously and unconsciouly accepted and maintained by the media, government, the educational system and the parents of little children — most importantly the parents of little children. Do you really think all the uproar over school busing was about time and money? Don’t be fooled. The parents just didn’t want “ghetto brats” in their clean valley schools. Why, after 470 years in this country, are the majority of the blacks not much better off than when they got here? The standard argument of the white race is that prejudice works both ways. They say that black people are equally prejudiced against us. This is true. Though no form of prejudice is right, blacks have a justification for their prejudice. Theirs is not an irrational hatred or feeling of superiority. We took a people from their native land and stripped them for a whole generation. We took their language, their religion, their family names and gave them toil and hardships as a replacement. Can you blame them for their resentment? One example of hidden racism in people happened very close to me. A former roommate once complained about my “overabundance” of black friends. After discussing my friends with her mother, her mother told her to move out of our apartment. My roommate did move and admitted that aside from her mother’s feelings, she also felt strange about my friends. She wondered if people would talk about her and if she might not be accepted by other whites on the floor. We don’t need to worry about the Nazi Party or the Ku Klux Klan. We know what they advocate. The most dangerous and far reaching racism is held by people who don’t even know that they are prejudiced. Because there is nothing that bothers me more than unfairness, the situation I’ve discovered here at USC is a constant irritant. There are numerous organizations on this campus where my black friends would not be accepted, but I haven’t found one black organization where I am not accepted. I know it isn’t right to generalize. I like people, not colors. There must be more white people on this campus who feel like I do. But now it’s the white people on campus who will have to prove themselves to me.
Christy House is a sophomore in drama.