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Albert Einstein decried racism in America

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Albert Einstein decried racism in America. His diaries reveal a xenophobic, misogynistic side

 

In 1946, Albert Einstein stood in front of students at one of the oldest historically black colleges in the United States and decried the oppression of African Americans.

 

“There is separation of colored people from white people in the United States. That separation is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it,” he said during a commencement speech at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

 

As a Jewish scientist who experienced anti-Semitism in Germany, Einstein showed deep sympathy for black people in America. He wandered around black neighborhoods in segregated Princeton, N.J., his home after leaving Germany amid the rise of the Nazis. He sat on people’s porches, chatted with them and handed out candies to their children and grandchildren. Einstein had become so entrenched in America’s civil rights movement that the FBI placed him under surveillance, collecting nearly 1,500 pages of documents on Einstein by the time he died.

 

But there’s another side to Einstein that perhaps people did not know then.

 

Travel diaries he wrote during a months-long voyage in the 1920s reveal that in his private moments, the Nobel-winning physicist portrayed people of other races, such as Chinese and Indians, in a stereotypical, dehumanizing way. Einstein’s unfiltered musings about the people he saw and interacted with during his journey show that even the civil rights icon and “paragon” of humanitarianism harbored racist thoughts about those who did not look like him, said Ze’ev Rosenkranz, senior editor and assistant director of the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology.

 

“In published statements, he’s usually in favor of civil and human rights and was socially progressive. I’m not saying that he didn’t believe in those things,” Rosenkranz said, but he added that the words Einstein never intended to be published are in stark contrast with his more guarded public statements.

 

That contradiction makes Einstein all the more human, said Rosenkranz, who edited “The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein,” published recently by Princeton University Press.

 

More at:  Albert Einstein decried racism in America. His diaries reveal a xenophobic, misogynistic side


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