It should come as no surprise that youths today are as race conscious as their predecessors. In spite of cosmetic changes that have taken place in this nation over the past quarter of a century, racism and its counterpart, white supremacy, remain pervasive in every major American institution and are still entrenched in all areas of social interaction, e.g., economics, education, labor, law, politics, etc.
It is difficult to escape racism in this country when the very use of words instills Negrophobia in the minds of our children and perpetuates concepts of white supremacy throughout their lives. In dictionaries and in general speech, such negative words as blackmail, blackball, blacklist, black sheep and Black Monday abound, while whiteness is synonymous with purity, cleanliness, chastity and innocence.
Furthermore, during the Reagan years, black people have been particularly unpopular as Republicans have attempted to block certain civil rights aspirations and have fostered the erroneous perception that blacks are on parity with whites. The irony is that over the past decade the black family has lost ground in income and educational attainment.
Our youths are products of this society and have not escaped its widespread and pernicious anti-back sentiment. Evans seeks to transform the attitudes of young Americans by formalizing the teaching of American history since World War II with special emphasis placed on the civil rights movement.
I agree that teaching history is an important first step toward the elimination of racism, but Evans is starting at the wrong point. From a historical standpoint white youths disrespect blacks not so much because they know little about the black struggle for civil rights, but because they know nothing about the black contribution to world civilization. Therefore, in order to raise the consciousness of white youths, and their parents for that matter, our curricula should be revised to include the African cradle of humanity, the black origins of civilization in Egypt and Ethiopia, the Moorish influence on medieval Europe and the African presence in America before Columbus.
If white youths learn as much about blacks as the latter have of whites, we shall have made a quantum leap toward promoting black self-respect and eliminating white supremacy and racism.
LEGRAND H. CLEGG II
Member, Compton Community
College Board of Trustees