To the Editor:

Taking a situation like the one that recently occurred at Auburn (“Southern schools: a microcosm of America,” 11/13) and breaking it down into the binary of “haves” and “have nots” is a gross simplification of the problem.

I saw the pictures.

I was deeply disturbed by the sight of college-aged white males in “black face” with nooses around their necks, dressed as Ku Klux Klan members and outfitted in the traditional wear of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, a historically black organization.

To say that a white male dressing up in an Afro wig in mockery has more to do with socioeconomic trends than racism is to put blinders on.

To say that various communities “self-segregate” themselves is to ignore the constant cycle of institutional redlining, discrimination, and white flight, among other things, that work to segregate people of color in this country.

I believe racial harmony is a possibility.

However the “root of the problem” is not so easily brushed off in socioeconomic terms.

The South, and America by extension, needs to look at the culture that would accept such actions: The individuals who participated in the “racially insensitive” Halloween party at Auburn have had no disciplinary actions taken against them as yet, save for the fact that their chapters were disbanded — and are allowed to apply for reinstatement in two to three years.

Aisha Gayle ’02

November 13, 2001

The writer is a former Yale Daily News staff columnist.