To the editors:
Letter writer William Simpson [July 31] condemns integration maintenance by suggesting that its supporters wish to limit the total number of blacks in a community; by suggesting that Mr. Henderson, the white writer whom he criticizes, does or would enjoy the “comfort” of living exclusively among members of his own race, and, by implication, so do blacks; by arguing that proponents of integration maintenance wish to deny blacks the right to live around members of their own families; and by asserting that managed integration is informed by a “basic supposition . . . that African-Americans . . . are a danger to the health and welfare of communities.”
Whether proponents of integration maintenance are or are not motivated by a covert desire to limit the total number of blacks in a community and by a conviction that blacks are dangerous would have to be determined by an investigation into the inner motives of such proponents. It may be to no useful end to attempt the seemingly intractable task of determining motive: What would undeniably be of significance would be the social effect of the proponents’ ideas and activities, whatever their motive.
The social effect alleged by Mr. Simpson is that of denying black “families the opportunity to live next door to each other,” resulting in “the dispersal and scattering of African-American families.”
I am unaware that inter-familial relations are adversely affected by spatial distance within the same community, and cannot find in Simpson’s letter any reasoning in support of such an assertion.
More significantly, the desire of people of one race to live among and only among people of the same race (or nationality or culture) is fueled by a refusal to effect those compromises in living style which permit integration and potentiate interracial and cultural assimilation. If we are to be one people–and we must, for “a house divided against itself cannot stand”–we must suppress some of our accustomed practices while adopting others new to us. We must do so in order to get along with the neighbors, which is of the essence of everyday living, and of the essence of our long-term hope of becoming one race and one people.