New York Herald Tribune: July 6, 1963
by Terry Carter

 

To the New York Herald Tribune:

In the recent past I have enjoyed reading John Crosby's articles. His series on Rome was exceptionally fine, and several of his essays have found their way into my collection of favored newspaper clippings.

I must take exception, however, to his recent article on a meeting with Marpessa Dawn (July 3).

Would someone kindly tell me where James Baldwin wrote "that every Negro hated every white man," as Mr. Crosby states? Mr. Baldwin has always seemed to be far too intelligent for so fatuous and racialist a remark. Isn't Mr. Crosby inadvertently doing a disservice to Mr. Baldwin --and the rest of us Negroes-- by such a paraphrase? Isn't it rather a way of making many white Americans a little more capable of feeling justified in their own hates and prejudices?

Such lines as "non-angry Negroes are out of style this year" and "happiness is out of fashion this year among Negroes" may Sound terribly clever (though repetitious), and will no doubt win Mr. Crosby praise along (white) Madison Avenue, but they do, as well, tend to minimize the importance of the American struggle on both sides of the color line, and relegate it to being merely another topic of superficial conversation, rather like babushkas being worn by Jacqueline Kennedy or the efficacy of Metrecal, instead of the social, spiritual and political upheaval that promises to be as great as any we Americans have ever known.

Miss Dawn's impressions of New York and Hollywood are most ingenuous in their inaccuracy. I have lived in my native New York for more than 30 years and have spent many months in Hollywood. To say that "race is not a problem there" is not "heresy" but hearsay. The problem that any Negro might face in either of these cities --that of finding living quarters-- is virtually insurmountable, notwithstanding the countless advertisements of vacancies.

Hollywood landlords have, on numerous occasions, told me to my face that they would not rent to a Negro. Furthermore, it is well known Sidney Poitier was frustrated in his search for unsegregated real estate in Hollywood, and that Harry Belafonte was denied a co-operative apartment in New York because he is a Negro.

May I finally add that, although I disliked Mr. Crosby's article, I do not (as a Negro) hate Mr. Crosby (as a white). I do hate superficiality, distortion of fact and inaccuracy. But please don't blame these personal foibles of mine on the Negro people!

TERRY CARTER.
Rome.