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Racism and Russia

February 26, 1988

I was charmed with Itabari Njeri's article about the black Soviet journalist Yelena Khanga. Khanga comes across as a bright, vivacious, spontaneous and, at the same time, serious and knowledgeable young woman.

But then, seemingly out of nowhere, comes a sour note. Njeri writes, "Despite her animated, open manner, there is something guarded about Khanga."

Huh?! I went over the rest of the article with a fine-tooth comb, looking for tell-tale evidence of "guardedness." I found none.

I have to conclude that there is a deeply rooted American suspicion about anyone and anything good that comes out of the Soviet Union. If anyone except a defector or emigre, seems healthy, happy, and open, we must seek and find a hidden agenda, propaganda, "guardedness." This is a knee-jerk, gut response that, with a brief interruption during 1941-1945, when we were allies in World War II, has been implanted and cultivated in the American psyche since 1917.

ISIDORE ZIFERSTEIN

Los Angeles

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