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March 01, 1988 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-03-01

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4

OPINION
Page 4 Tuesday, March 1, 1988 The Michigan Daily
1 ,

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
Vol. XCVIII, No. 100 420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.

Negatively labelling Blacks

4

Polluters should pay

IN 1986, 60 FAMILIES living near
the Gelman Science facility o n
Wagner Road in Ann Arbor were
put on bottled water because dan-
gerous levels of 1,4-dioxane were
found in their wells by the
Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA). It was also found that the
chemical had been leaking into the
groundwater beneath the Saginaw
forest.
Numerous studies have shown
that dioxane causes cancerous tu-
mors in rats. It was also linked to
birth defects at the Love Canal, a
chemical dump.
Gelman has since hired three law
firms to help them fight a State
lawsuit for damages resulting from
their irresponsible handling of
dioxane. The company's lawyers
have been trying every trick in the
book to absolve Gelman of the
blame.
Gelman's tactics are contradic-
tory. Gelman refuses to admit that
dioxane is harmful to people. At the
same time, they maintain that Gel-
man is not at fault for damages re-
sulting from dioxane because Dow
chemical company, where Gelman
obtained the dioxane, did not
properly instruct them how to
handle it.
_ Whether or not Dow provided the
proper instructions, it is ludicrous
for Gelman to play the innocent
victim in this case. The evidence
suggests that Gelman knew they
were doing something wrong, and
that they did it anyway. A company
does not create the second worst
toxic waste site in the state of
Michigan by accident, according to
the EPA.
*Gelman has known that there
was a problem with the way they
were disposing of dioxane for a
long time. At least three times since
February of 1981, the Department

of Natural Resources (DNR) dis-
tributed memos warning that diox-
ane was carcinogenic, and that the
chemical could leak from its sewage
lagoon and spray irrigation system
into the groundwater.
*Two former employees of Gel-
man told the Ann Arbor News that
they had been told to dump chemi-
cals in what they thought was an
improper manner.
*The company resisted perform-
ing studies and installing monitor-
ing equipment that could have de-
tected groundwater contamination
before toxic chemical wastes mi-
grated off company property.
*Gelman sprayed wastewater onto
company land without a permit
starting in 1972. It did not receive a
permit for doing this until 1976,
and this permit did not allow for
spraying dioxane.
*Gelman has been extremely slow
to deliver important data to the
DNR. In July 1986, a hose carrying
wastewater ruptured, spilling
18,000 gallons into the ground.
Gelman didn't inform the DNR for
10 days, and the spill has still not
been cleaned up.
Gelman exists to make a profit,
and proper disposal of toxic waste
costs money. Unfortunately, it is
extremely difficult to monitor the
activities of the private sector, and
watchdogs such as the DNR lack
the resources to deal with all the
companies that are threatening peo-
ple's health and lives. Moreover, it
is the companies that can afford to
hire the most lawyers, as well as the
most expensive ones.
Everybody knows that a corpora-
tion will try to get away with what-
ever it can. But it is to be hoped that
this will be one of those rare cases
in which the company will be
forced to clean up its own deadly,
multi-million dollar mess.

By Walter Allen, Vonnie C.
Mcloyd, Aldon Morris, and
Ernest Wilson
this is the second of a two-part series
There is a particularly insidious form of
institutional racism in the attitude of some
we encounter at this University who say
that Michigan should recruit Black
scholars who teach in areas unrelated to
Afro-American issues, because if we bring
Black scholars here to teach in the
disciplines of political science, sociology
or psychology, and they study Black
people in these areas, then their colleagues
will think them incompetent or less of a
scholar. This is racist and insulting to
Black faculty in general, and the Center for
Afro-American and African Studies in
particular. Why should a scholar applying
the best methodologies and sophisticated
theories to Afro-American materials be
judged only three-fifths of a scholar? The
Black experience is as "universal" as any
other. This expression of institutional
racism raises profound questions of
educational philosophy that touch on the
ways in which we portray the wide world
to ourselves and our students at Michigan.
Of course, we want to integrate the entire
Walter Allen is an Associate Prof. of
Sociology. Vonnie C. Mcloyd is an
Associate Prof. of Psychology. .Aldon
Morris is an Associate Prof. and the
Associate Chair of Sociology. Ernest
Wilson is an Associate Prof. of Political
Science and Public Policy.

academy so that everyone can be
comfortable and welcome teaching in any
field. But our concern is not just more
Black bodies to fill any slot, but to make
the curriculum and research agenda of
modern scholarship better than it the past
by studying heretofore excluded segments
of social reality in creative new ways.
Excellence through diversity.
The University cannot be truly great if
its faculty and students are not from
diverse backgrounds. Yet, the University
has failed Black students throughout its
history by not recruiting them in large
numbers and by not providing them with a
quality intellectual and social
environment. Yet is has beendthese very
students, with a small number of
committed white students, who have had
to spend their precious time organizing
and protesting to change this dismal
situation. Recently we have been en-
couraged by the fact that some white
faculty throughout the University, as well
as some white students, have begun to
speak out publicly about the unjust nature
of institutional racism which affects all
members of the University community.
We must ask, however, why have the
majority of students, white faculty, and
administrators only responded to this
fundamental issue when challenged.
Institutional racism appears to be the
answer.
Yes, as Carmichael and Hamilton wrote
in the late 1960's, "Black people in the
United States must raise hard questions
which challenge the very nature of the
society itself: its long-standing values,
beliefs, and institutions." Black people at
the University of Michigan are living up
to their historical and social respon-

sibilities. Yet, institutional racism causes
our white friends to label us over-
sensitive, emotional, unreasonable, and
thin-skinned. Historically, whites have
always portrayed Black people as highly
emotional, irrational, and uninformed. By
contrast, white males are portrayed as 4
highly rational, perfectly informed, and in
charge. When Blacks protest racism these
same arrogant epithets are once again used
as if Blacks don't quite know what they
are talking about. Since white males have
decided that they know what is best for
Blacks, Black people should sit down and
shut up. A perfect example is the
counterattack against Black students and
faculty launched in recent editorials of
Detroit and Ann Arbor papers. Complaints
by the sufferers of racism (whether anti-
Black, anti-Jewish, or anti-female) are ir-
relevant until validated by whites.
We will bear this burden of being
negatively labeled as we have done for
centuries. But let it be clear, we shall
always seek truth and clarity because like
our foreparents we are committed to
making this University and America more
democratic.
What can all of us do to close the gap
between Black and white students and
Black and white faculty? How do we
educate the educators, so that they can
better educate the youth? Should white
faculty meet together in small groups to
discuss the issue? Should new courses be
offered? In this forum we cannot provide
solutions; but we do offer a serious
challenge to therentirerUniversity
community to generate proposals that
address all forms of institutional racism.
These proposals can then form the
reservoir of ideas from which concrete
actions can flow.

Letter misinterprets UCAR

By Alexia Ridley
Eddie Pont's letter "Steiner's comments
not a racist act" (Daily, 2/8/88), is typical
of some who feel called upon to disparage
those fighting for equality on campus,
while seeking to justify, excuse and ex-
plain away Dean Peter Steiner's racially
offensive beliefs.
Mr. Pont's letter is filled with lamenta-
tions over the outcry against Steiner. He
"find(s) it sad," that those outraged by
Steiner's comments have focused on those
comments themselves. He "is dismayed"
that UCAR sought to clarify comments he
made four months ago (even though
UCAR only learned of them recently). He
"is disturbed" that Steiner's call for a
Black attitudinal revolution towards
education carries racist overtones when
heard by members of the Black commu-
nity.
Such touching sympathy!
Mr. Pont does not truly understand dis-
crimination when he argues that Steiner's
comments "do not seem compelling

4

enough to me" to warrant protest. He goes
to great lengths in defense of Steiner's
sniping at Wayne State and Howard Uni-
versities, and "see(s) no racism in his
comment." Mr. Pont even attempts to use
Malcolm X to support Steiner's con-
tention that Blacks need a "revolution" in
their attitudes toward education.
My question to Mr. Pont is this. With
such compassion demonstrated for the
victims of racial harassment, may we cor-
rectly assume that you have been in the
forefront of the battle for equality? That
you have diligently sought to expunge the
subtleties of racism in yourself, your
friends, and your environment? May we
assume you have invested your time and
energy in helping to make UCAR the type
of efficient anti-racist organization you
envision?
Surely you must have used your writing
talents to decry the racial attacks and ha-
rassment on campus last spring. No doubt
you participated in and helped to organize
the many teach-ins and alternative educa-
tional programs held during Martin Luther
King Day. If such is the case, you are to
be lauded. If not, by what right do you
criticize?
If your record of Daily columns is a true

indication, you have not once raised your
voice and pen to denounce the overt racist
acts of the past. Swastikas painted on
Jewish Greek houses, fliers declaring
"open season" on Blacks, threats of vio-
lence against Asian=American students,
KKK uniforms displayed form dorm win-
dows, vicious racist jokes aired on the ra-
dio - none of these incidents moved you
to the point of action. How strange that
you have suddenly found your voice.
Stranger still is your choice of targets.
When one is not the object of discrimi-
nation or insinuations (based solely on
color) regarding intellectual capacities,
when one is raised and nurtured in a soci-
ety of inequality, when one benefits from
the status quo but is suddenly forced to
face unpleasant realities, it is easy to
pompously hold oneself up as a discerner
of errors committed by those who threaten
privileged positions.
Mr. Pont's views exemplify this phe-
nomenon. He criticizes those who would
combat inequality but offers no solutions
of his own. Pity the minority students at
West Quad who must look at him as an
R.A. capable of understanding the com-
plexities of racism.

4

4

Mayor Young's idea squanders $150,000 on a bad pretense:
No gambling in Detroit

Alexia Ridley is a senior in LSA

FOR MANY YEARS, Detroit Mayor
Coleman Young has tried to con-
vince the City Council and the peo-
ple of Michigan that casino gam-
bling in Detroit would bring thou-
sands of new jobs to the city and a
jolt to the southeastern Michigan
economy. Though there are eco-
nomic positives such as tourism
dollars, new construction, and
50,000 jobs (according to the
Mayor), the negatives of casino
gambling are numerous.
Atlantic City, for example, has a
rich downtown area with hotels and
casinos. Within blocks of the casi-
nos, however, lies total destitution.
In these run-down tenements live
the poor, who receive little of the
casinos' prosperity.
On the other hand, Las Vegas was
built around and in conjunction with
the hotel-casino industry and there-
fore a living, vibrant city survives
with "The Strip" in it. Detroit is a
long-established city and thus is ill-
suited for an invasion of gambling

that have existed for approximately
the past twenty-five years. Detroit is
coming back: the downtown area
has been seeing more business
activity, and increasingly more
people from the suburbs are
spending their money in Detroit.
Granted, there remains high un-
employment and a virtually non-
existent tourism industry, but
gambling is not the answer.
Crime is already a major problem
in Detroit. Gambling, with its well-
documented links to illicit activity,
would worsen Detroit's inauspi-
cious position in U.S. crime rank-
ings. Organized crime and prostitu-
tion would surely increase with the
gambling environment.
The gambling commission is a
waste of valuable funds. The
$150,000 could be better spent in
studies assisting Detroit's homeless
and retraining its unemployed, not
to mention bolstering existing social
programs.

LETTERS
Lab should be required for LSA

A

To the Daily:
I am a first year chemistry
graduate student, and I feel
compelled to respond to several
points made in the Daily over
the past few days. First, a re-
sponse to Ms. Pierce ("Don't
strengthen lab require-
ments,"Daily, 2/16/88).
Your letter to the Daily is
proof positive that LSA gradu-
ates should be required to take a
laboratory course. Your asser-
tion that "...what is important
to non-science majors is scien-
tific ideas, not procedures..." is
ignorant. This would be the
same as a science major say-
ing, "teach me about Joyce,
Shakespeare, and Milton but
don't require me to write papers
about their literature." Clearly,
this is absurd. In the humani-
ties, papers are used as vehicles
for students to express their
grasp of the concepts which are
.-r -. t . in.ha ei:n -e .h

be abstract are removed from
the chalkboard and through the
labs, become understandable.
This understanding is sorely
lacking from the editorial staff
of the Daily.
In your editorial,
"Inhumanities 101," (Daily,
2/15/88) you state "...scientists

among us research the effects
of chemical weapons designed
to maim people of color in the
Third World. "The implication
that one can synthesize a race
specific chemical weapon is
absurd. In addition, your
portrayal of scientists a the
University huddled extremely

offensive. Your ideas reveal a
fundamental ignorance of
science. This deficiency would
be rectified if students were
required to take lecture science 4
courses and laboratory science
courses.
-James W. Hovick
February 20

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