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“It reeked of whiteness. And that is no joke. And I am not exaggerating. I was only there for two days, and after one day I wanted to leave. And I mean, really, it just reeked, everywhere I went, reeked of old white men, just lily whiteness, oozing from the corners! [laughs] I wanted to leave. And I knew that socially I would be miserable. And I talked to other black students. . . And so I said, ‘Do you like it here?’ And they were like, ‘No, we’re miserable.’ I’m like, `Well then, why are you here?’ And they said, ‘Because I’m black; it’s Ivy League. I need everything I possibly could get.'” The dilemma of black high school students and their parents, forced to choose between a less prestigious black school and a white one that has more prestige and academic resources, is a hard one to resolve. Other stories come back to the same theme of African Americans’ feeling alien and unwelcome in white culture, so that they must forever be ready to convince whites that they really deserve to have the job they have, that they are going to be “decent” neighbors in a predominantly white neighborhood, that they can be trusted not to mug on the street or steal in the storein short, that they know how to “act white.” The psychic toll exacted by this continual need to prove oneself can be tremendous. But it is not simply the need to prove worthy of white expectations in a quasicaste society that blacks must deal with. It is the need to be careful not to make the wrong move in the wrong social setting, which can provoke sudden violence. The wrong word or gesture during a routine traffic altercation or encounter with a white policeman; the wrong body language on the street: These can spell big trouble. And so, as in the Jim Crow era, blacks even today must pay attention to the etiquette of race relations which, if flouted, can have dangerous consequences. Another fact that comes through in these stories is the deep hurt inflicted by what might seem to whites to be garden-variety acts of insensitivity, but which one respondent referred to as “little murders.” Yet another factperhaps the most important of all in understanding the anger of many blacks todayis the cumulative effect of these symbolic little murders, not to speak of the larger and more devastating ones. Feagin and Sikes’s data effectively drive home the point that “mere” slights, racist jokes, common stereotypingthe myriad minor acts of prejudice and discrimination to which blacks are subjectedeven when separated by days or weekscan gradually leave a sediment of bitterness and despair in the souls of black folk that makes normal interaction with whites very difficult. LIVING WITH RACISM then, as well as presenting a solid overview of the problem of discrimination and preju dice, is a useful handbook for improving the souls of middle-class white folk. If read by them with sympathy, I , believe it will help spread the insight, fostered by the Center for the Healing of Racism, a Houston-based organization, that because we all grow up in a racist society, even the least prejudiced among us are, at best, “recovering racists.” This idea, which seems to be taking root in enlightened circles as the 20th century draws to a close, is essential for enabling whites to make the changes in themselves that the next century will require if we are to move beyond the halfway house we now occupybetween racial oppression and racial equality . CLASSIFIEDS. CLASSIFIED RATES: Minimum ten words. One time, 50 cents per word; three times, 45 cents per word; six times, 40 cents per word; 12 times, 35 cents per word; 25 times, 30 cents per word. 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Office 512/2883170; D.P. 397-8580; Fax 288-4426. New Listing: 3003 Old Red Ranch Road; 3/2 on ten acres in Henly for $122,500. 3/2.5 on 3 acres with 2stall horse barn and corralls for $85,000. FIRST CLASS DANCE HALL & PARTY CLUB. 15,000 sq. foot steel building 60 tons of a/c 3,750 sq. foot hardwood dance floor seating tables for 800. 48 miles from Austin 63 miles from San Antonio. Serious buyers call for color brochure. Irvin Stevens Realty, 20 OCTOBER 28, 1994