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people on equal grounds. I am at a little disadvantage in dealing
with benign condescension, particularly in intellectual or
I used to say to some of my colleagues at City College
that my test of the extent to which a white person has overcome
insidious aspects of racism is when they can look at a black person
and see that he's an idiot, and not feel the least bit guilty about
the fact, you know. Or look at a black person and react to that
person as if they were reacting to someone who was not black.
That's damned difficult to do.
At Columbia, I found that I had to engage in a sort of a n
ongoing game of sensitive insensitivity, or insensitive sensitivity.
I was aware of these things, but I couldn't let them interfere with
what the hell I was there for, and I was there to get a PhD, and
damn it, I got it. And I got it on a single standard of competition.
I met their requirements, and when they asked me, which one of the
black schools I was going to, in order to help my people, I told
them that I was not going to a black school to help my people. I was
going to go wherever Columbia PhD's go. Of course I wanted to go to
Columbia to teach, but in 1940, Columbia was not ready to have any
black person, even as an assistant or fellow. So I said, “OK, I'll
go to City College,” and that was a big do.
Then, to complicate matters even more, as soon as I got
my PhD, my wife applied and was accepted, and she asked no quarter,
gave no quarter, and insisted upon working with Henry Garrett,
who is Otto Kleinberg's chief antagonist on matters of race and racial
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