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September 11, 2001 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-09-11

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41- The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 11, 2001

OP/ED

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420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
daily. letters@umich.edu

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

GEOFFREY GAGNON
Editor in Chief
MICHAEL GRASS
NICHOLAS WOOMER
Editorial Page Editors

N OTABLE
QUOTABLE
(( 'Liberals abandon
their tolerance...
Socialists speak of job-
stealers. Conservatives
mutter about spongers and
scroungers. ... Those who
object to immigrants are, if
they are honest, nearly
always just responding to
one of mankind's baser
instincts a deep-rooted
suspicion of outsiders."
- From an unsigned editorial published in
the September 8-14 issue of The Economist.

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Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the Daily's
editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

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Sorry man, but I'm too black for you ...

DUSTIN J. SIEBERT

THE MAN IFES'IO

amn, back again,
on track again...
Here we are at the
beginning of another glori-
ous school year here in
sunny Ann Arbor. The
weather is hot, the bodies
are hard, and the cafeteria
food still tastes like card-
board with special sauce.
The freshmen are out doing their thing... stand-
ing on the corner of South U. and State Street
asking desperately for directions to the Union
with strings on their fingers to help them to
remember to walk around that damn "M" on the
Diag; having their parents take out a second
mortgage on the house just to get their fresh
new books while the $9.99 used versions sit
untouched right next to them. No more intern-
ships, no more nagging parents, and no more
late movie nights with your hometown crew.
Wait lists, ritual ass-kissing sessions with pro-
fessors, and double mocha-chino/No-Doz com-
binations for those extra late study sessions
await. Those of us who have done this before
know what we are coming back to. My "spring
chicken" readers, however, have quite a few
experiences yet to be. had in the journey
ahead... (cue Rocky theme music)
One of the most valuable things that this
university has to offer, whether or not one real-
izes it at first, is it's highly diverse student body.
The sad truth is, the majority of students that
attend the university, regardless of ethnic back-
ground, have not been raised in culturally rich
areas such as Ann Arbor. Therefore, one may
experience a minor case of "culture shock"
upon attending this university for the first time.
Look for the quiet, reserved freshman who
walks with his head down, refusing to look you
in the eye, yet seems to have a strange curiosity
nonetheless of his surroundings, as if he is view-
ing something out of a movie... and you will

have an idea of what I am talking about. Despite
being a product of 13 years of very non-diverse
Detroit Public schooling, I was fortunate enough
to find an ethnic "balance" elsewhere, and so
the adjustment was not really an adjustment for
me, yet it irks me to see so many others have to
go through this.
A certain level of intrigue revolving around
another culture and their practices is inevitable;
whether you are from New York, N.Y. or
Lower East Smalltown Coldwater Iguana Gully
Falls, Ore., you will find yourself looking at the
"exploits" of those not like you, and you will do
so with either intrigue, admiration, disgust, or
confusion. Blacks and whites, as a prime exam-
ple in our society, typically possess defining
cultural characteristics that often causes either
group to automatically recognize each others'
actions. Too often does this transform into the
problem that is stereotyping. Here are a few
clarifications of typical stereotypes that I have
seen (or experienced) in my time here thus far:
- No, the majority of.black folks here are
NOT athletes on scholarship ... as cliched as it
sounds, I notice people still carry that assump-
tion. Granted, there are some nice black athletes
holding it down here, and no disrespect to them
whatsoever. Most of us, however, are left to our
financial and cranial devices in order to remain
enrolled in the University of Pocket Breaking. I,
for one, am a prime example of the terribly
embarrassing things that happen when the
wrong person decides to pick up a basketball.
No, not every white person, be them nation-
al or international, are walking piggy banks. I
realize that some of the more militant black
folks here have the idea that every Joe Blow
white guy is a big money grip on a mission to
buy out your influence. Just as there are rich
white communities, there are also impoverished
ones and the lower-middle class Caucasian pop-
ulation makes up a percentage of the student
population. Much like in the construct of many

black communities, Whites in these situations
suffer from limited educational resources and
substandard living conditions. This is where
affirmative action gets problematic...hopefully
there will soon come a resolution to this issue.
Every ethnic group, black, white, Indian,
Latino or other, are not subjected to their own
special worlds, secluded from the rest of the
world. At first (and second, and maybe third)
glance, it may seem this way, but if you allow
appearances to deceive you like so, then you are
allowing that invisible barrier to remain. It is the
nature of people of the same ethnicity to be
together, and that will likely never change. That
doesn't mean that there should be exclusivity,
however, and such intimidation from a large
group of people should be eradicated in these
times.
I, much like everyone else, am full of ques-
tions about that which I don't fully understand
... including the practices of other cultures. If I
feel the need to ask about something that piques
my curiosity, I would hope that I could do so
without scrutiny. I always feel more than wel-
come to answer questions from "outsiders"
about my culture, because I would much rather
someone ask questions than have them be in my
frequent company with constant misconceptions
about why I do what I do. I get them all, from
"Why do you guys always use the "N-word"
around each other?" to my personal favorite,
"How do you get that comb to stay in your hair
like that?" Even if they may seem to be com-
mon sense questions, it's better to find out early
on than reveal your ignorance in the wrong
place at the wrong time. If the cliched college
experience is about experiencing new things,
then why can't it be about experiencing new
people?
Knowledge.
Dustin J. Siebert can be reached via
e-mail at dsiebert@umich.edu.

So long summer, can't say I'll miss you
PETER CUNNIFFE ONE FOR THE RoAD

his summer was
only the second one
I'd spent in Ann
Arbor and in the spring I
was looking forward to it
with barely disguised glee.
Of course, unlike last time,
I'd be taking classes this
summer, but that hardly
seemed to matter. I always
had plenty of free time during the year and I was
leaving my job, giving me even more. If the last
summer I spent in Ann Arbor was any indica-
tion, it was going to be one long party, only
briefly interrupted by occasional reading assign-
ments. But that isn't quite the way it turned out.
It all just had such a weird feeling to it.
I guess the summer started to seem a bit off
the day a friend and I were walking down the
not yet torn up Packard at around midnight.
Passing by a large group of people heading in
the other direction, one suddenly pulled me
aside and sternly warned, "you better watch out,
there's a whole bunch of niggers down there."
I know that the throwing around of racial epi-
thets is not an unknown practice between people
in private who think those listening won't be
offended (because I've heard it many times), but
this was the first time I'd ever heard some ran-
dom person publicly say one to a stranger. I was
taken aback and didn't know what to say. So I
didn't say anything, which I regretted later since
I felt that maybe telling the guy off would have
made him less inclined to believe the public at
large would put up with such statements.
Unfortunately, the incident wasn't just some
one-time event I could write off as an anomaly.
I heard it again. And again. Just walking down
the street, minding my own business, people
casually throwing around the "N-word" and
other derogatory terms for blacks, not caring
what this passerby thought. I really don't know
what to think of it all and have no explanation

for why it was happening.
Another odd, and less disquieting, occur-
rence was my new neighbors. A couple of
middle-aged guys (who apparently liked to
think they were still in college) subletted an
apartment in the building directly across from
mine and proceeded to play '80s crap rock
almost all day, every day. If you've never
woken up to the lilting sound of Poison, much
less woken up to it for weeks on end, you
don't have the right complain about anything.
Nothing could be more annoying.
Then there was the almost-fight that
occurred one night in the parking lot between
our two buildings. The Guns N' Roses had long
since ceased, it was around three in the morning
and I was just getting to bed. But moments after
laying down, I heard some commotion coming
from outside my window.
Peeking through the blinds, I could see
about seven people, who all looked between
high school and college-aged, having a heated
argument. Thinking, "oh cool, there's gonna be
a fight," I ran and got one of my housemates to
watch with me. But the argument soon turned
frightening. "This guy pulled a gun on me,"
angrily yelled one. There was some more unin-
telligible argument and then the same guy start-
ed yelling at one of the people involved, "get in
the car, you get in this mother fucking car."
This continued for a while and some of the
participants occasionally walked off, bringing
passersby, whom they apparently knew, into the
parking lot for some reason. The whole time
people were coming and going, yelling about
guns and making somebody get into a car, there
was a small group that looked like they were
being kept in place by some of the more bel-
ligerent individuals out there.
We started getting the impression that this
could get ugly. Someone was now repeatedly
yelling, "your dog, my car," apparently trying to
get the smaller group to give up one of its mem-

bers. That was when we decided to call the cops.
Unfortunately, my housemate, besides telling the
dispatcher that he was me, gave them some bad
directions, not mentioning that our parking lot
could only be entered from a street that was dif-
ferent from the one where our address is and is
pretty much concealed from that road.
So we saw the cops drive by, see nothing
and then drive off. By this time, the crowd had
attracted about the hootchiest looking 14 year
old girls I'd ever seen. Looking like little hooker
wannabes, they casually strolled about the
scene, swearing and complaining and occasion-
ally being told to shut up. When we were about
to try to call the police again, the crowd sudden-
ly just walked off, everyone heading in the same
direction and leaving the cars they had parked in
our lot, including the one someone was trying to
avoid being forced into.
And then there was the time I was talking to
my dad and he said, "remember when Jessica (a
teenage cousin of mine) got pregnant and Laura
(my sister) and Erica (another teenage cousin)
were laughing and joking about it nonstop?"
"Yes," I cautiously replied.
"Well guess who's pregnant now."
"Um... it better not be Laura," I said.
It wasn't.
So I had a second teenage cousin get preg-
nant. Which doesn't mean much, but it really
unsettled me.
And my classes turned out to be a lot more
work than I anticipated.
Of course, there were some good times (that
White Sox game was pretty fun), but they
seemed to be lost in all the weirdness.
That gives a pretty good summation to the
feeling of this summer for me, which if you
think is sad, I couldn't agree more. I don't think
I've ever been so glad to see a summer end.
Peter Cunnif can be reached via e-mail
atpcunni f@umich.edu.

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR t{}

Population control
borders on eugenics
TO THEW DAILY:

reproduce. The society, she implies, will be bet-
ter without them. The inescapable conclusion is
that the richer a person is, the better, and that we
ought to prune the lower classes of our society
to such a degree that there is no overpopulation.
-r-- --- h~ L:.. creaR,+i

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