To the editor:
(re: “Protests lead to change at Fieldston,” March 21)
The emotionally charged claim of rampant racial discrimination at Ethical Culture Fieldston School (whatever the specifics might be) requires a calm consideration of discrimination in America, and the huge progress that has been made at every level to assimilate people of various religious and ethnic origins.
There was a time in New York when prejudice against the Irish was public and intense. Most gangs, and most prisoners, were Irish, as were 80 percent of the prostitutes in New York City. They eventually assimilated and their offspring became the famous Irish politicians of New York.
The same can be said of Italians, who at one time made up a disproportionate share of the prison population.
There has been public discrimination against Irish, Italians, Jews and Hispanics. All of these people eventually made their mark in American politics, sports and business. Regarding African-Americans in particular, there was a time when black entertainers could not sleep in the very New York hotels in which they were performing.
There are differences in lifestyle and values between people of various religious, ethnic and racial backgrounds. We must learn from these differences and not attempt to eliminate them. It takes patience and understanding to improve relationships, not laws.
If Malakai Hart spent his entire academic life at a school that practiced rampant discrimination, why did he stay? Why did his parents keep him there? Why now that he is graduating are his parents bringing legal action against the school?