Skin Color

May 23rd, 2008

Thanks to Royston Taylor for writing such an excellent essay ("Ask Yourself," Alumni P.O.V., March/April). Thanks especially for reminding us that, when it comes to skin color, in spite of the many advances that American society has made during the last fifty years, many fears and stereotypes about blacks and other minority groups remain. I think that in academia it is tempting to forget this reality: we speak of education as the "great equalizer" while we make calls for a collective move toward a race-blind society. However, outside academia is a world that is still structured in terms of race-conscious constructs and makes assumptions concerning one's character and potential based on race. Race really doesn't wash off, regardless of any thoughts we might have to the contrary.

Carol Celestine '08
Hempstead, N.Y.


My sympathies to Royston Taylor. In 1976, at the age of twenty-two, as I was driving to a job interview dressed in my finest and only suit, I too was stopped, surrounded by four police cars with bullhorns, and held there on the side of the highway under suspicion of murder for nearly two hours while they sorted things out in a pre-computer age. Apparently my car was akin to the getaway vehicle: small, brown, and with California tags. And I looked like the murderer: a young white woman with waist-length blond hair. But for me blond does at least age off. I guess I'm free, at least until someone with shoulder-length slightly graying brown hair commits a crime near me.

B.C. Dzaman
Baltimore, Md.

The writer is a Brown parent.

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May/June 2008