I was incredibly frustrated by "Lessons in Prejudice" by Tom Bale '63 (POV, July/August). He reveals that while he was the first white president of Brown's chapter of the NAACP, he secretly harbored fear and prejudice against black people. Somehow, he still felt worthy of being the NAACP president. Why? There is no lesson here. Bale never goes on to explain whether or not he still harbors fear and prejudice against blacks. He seemed to accept that these feelings were just "part of who [he] was." He never mentioned wrestling with his prejudice or doing any type of soul searching to try to rid himself of it. He simply accepts it. This is exceptionally shameful because he chose to take a leadership role in a civil rights organization. If the leadership of the NAACP fears blacks and is prejudiced against us, then what hope is there for everyone else? I encourage the BAM to continue to publish insightful articles. Unfortunately, this was not an example of one.
Hope Rias '97
"Lessons in Prejudice" brought to mind a couple of memories. I too had protested Woolworth's southern segregation policies by sitting-in at the lunch counter in the Providence store. At my 50th Brown reunion earlier this year I recalled that as freshmen my classmates and I were told by upperclassmen that if we joined the Brown chapter of the NAACP, we would have difficulty getting good jobs after we graduated. It went without saying that, in the United States at that time, blacks would have even more difficulty, whether they joined an organization like the NAACP or not. Fortunately, Brown and the country changed so much over the last fifty-plus years, that Ruth Simmons and Barack Obama have been able to get very good jobs indeed!
Les Weinstein '60
My first experience with NAACP was somewhat different than that of Tom Bale. I showed up at an all-black meeting and I am white. Immediately I was asked, "Are you a member? This is a members-only organization." I paid my dues and became a member. I was never made to feel welcome.
Years later I became involved with CURE (Congregations United for Racial Equality). One of our goals was "to recognize and confront racism." We created many interracial worship services. Perhaps we did some good. My present goal is to create interracial harmony rather than to confront racism. Successful philosophers admonish us to keep our minds on what we want and off what we don't want. We want harmony. We don't want to dwell on past-tense imperfections.
Frank Rycyk '66
Jefferson City, Mo.