To the editors:
The generalizations about white people and black people made directly and indirectly by Reverend Sampson, Lu Palmer and Thomas Todd (Fri. Sept. 2) are untrue.
Reverend Sampson implied that "white folks" don't like it when black people have political conventions. Reverend Sampson is wrong. There are many white people, including myself, who have worked hard to make possible and encourage political activism by individuals of all races. Further, I was protesting against Apartheid in South Africa before many Americans, white or black, were involved in the issue.
Mr. Todd stated that he will only vote for a black mayor, until a fair white mayor appears, because a white mayor has never been fair to black people. A fair white mayor will never have a chance to be elected, if we follow Mr. Todd's plan. Until Mayor Washington was elected, no fair white candidate could possibly overcome the power of the machine to be elected. If only a black candidate is to be considered now, white candidates that are fair will never be elected, and Mr. Todd will therefore never consider a white candidate. This strategy is both unfair and unwise.
Mr. Todd also argues that white people ". . . . just keep trickin' us." This is an unfair generalization about white people that Mr. Todd should realize is not true about all whites. When some white people make generalizations about black people, based on their race, we do not hesitate to call that racism.
Mr. Palmer claimed that you cannot be called racist unless you have the power to oppress others. . . . We don't have power, we cannot oppress another race, so how can black people be called racist?" This claim does not make sense, because people are never powerless when they commit an act of racism. We never hesitate to affirm that even the most poor and powerless white people can be racist. Racism oppresses the object of the racist act, largely because it helps to persuade people who can not think for themselves that racial generalizations or stereotypes are acceptable or true. This can and does influence people of any race to deny economic, political and social opportunities to individuals of other races. To claim that black people can not oppress another race is simply untrue.
An all black convention is a right guaranteed by law and widely accepted values. We will not make much progress toward ensuring equal rights and opportunities for all Americans, however, until we are willing to truthfully assess the views of individuals--of all races--working for fairness and justice.