Volume 75
Number 1

The Classes

Beyond the Basics
A message from AEA Executive Director Bob Carpenter

Six weeks in Tibet

Reflection on tradition

Charter Day redux

Eugene Williams Jr. '91C

Where Eagles have landed

Why do Voles Fall in Love?

The Once and Future Mummy Museum

Got bluemilk?

Pop Culture






Eugene Williams Jr. '91C

A voice for black youth

IN 1976, WHEN HE WAS SEVEN YEARS OLD, EUGENE WILLIAMS JR. ’91C reached the height of his television career, playing the grape in the junior version of the "Fruit of the Loom Guys" commercial. He also appeared in Jell-O Pudding ads, as a teen correspondent on the syndicated news show PM Magazine, and in a recurring role on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow.

As an adult, however, Williams has attracted the attention of the Washington Post, the Miami Herald, Ebony magazine, CNN, NBC News, and other national media outlets with his book The Raisin-In-Milk Syndrome: Ten Survival Tips for Black Students at Predominantly White Colleges and Universities.

Williams’ slender volume is loaded with practical advice for African Americans facing the sometimes daunting challenges of being black students in a mostly white environment. As an Emory student, he noticed that many of his friends had more difficulty in their classes than their white peers. But Williams, who had attended a rigorous private college preparatory school, was up to the challenge. "I realized there were different ways I had prepared myself, either consciously or unconsciously, for that experience," he says.

Williams suggests that students get to know their professors and gain their attention. "If you produce quality work, and your professor views you as a person rather than a number," he writes, "it will probably be difficult for him or her to give you a grade lower than a C."

He also recommends that black students at predominantly white schools get involved with black organizations. According to Williams, these groups offer students "the opportunity to honestly and confidentially relate to one another without the fear of offending or alienating other ethnic groups."


Williams played the grape in the junior version of the "Fruit of the Loom Guys."

"I wanted to make [the book] simple and quick—almost like a pocket guide," says Williams, who teaches English and Latin at a Maryland high school and coaches students in Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) preparation. "We just don’t do a lot of things that ought to be common sense. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that you’re going to run into some problems, and you have to know how to deal with them. These situations arise not just in college, but in life, and it’s helpful to be reminded of them."

While The Raisin-In-Milk Syndrome was the first book Williams wrote by himself, in 1991 he co-authored a book with his father titled It’s a Reading Thing . . . Help Your Child Understand. The book is an SAT verbal preparation guide for parents who lack the resources for SAT preparation courses or private tutoring. Most recently, Williams has written a volume of poetry, Reflections of a Confused Middle-Class Black Youth.

"At a time when people are letting stereotypes get in the way of reality," Williams says, "I want to let young people know that there are black men out there who care, who are intelligent, who are doing positive things, and who have a voice."—A.O.A.



©1999 Emory University