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Already the anti-affirmative-action pundits are smacking their teeth and licking their lips with glee at the spectacular downfall of Jayson Blair, the young African-American reporter with a record of loose journalistic standards (“Off Target,” 5/9).

Why does one dude’s fuckup have to tar and feather all black journalists? I have often found myself the only one in work situations. As the only black person, I have felt the unspoken suspicion, the questions…

Well, it all goes back to the notion of being a credit to one’s race—a notion, that, sadly, has not died. To those who say Blair was protected because he was black, I say bull! Jayson, bless his heart, got ahead the way white folks have been doing for years—he brown-nosed and connived, played slick and convinced those with power into thinking he was fantastic.

Now, white folks have been rising up through the ranks with substandard qualifications and knowledge since this great country was founded. That, more than apple pie, has been the American way. Just drive over to the intersection of 16th and Penn (oops, I mean walk) and take a look through the windows for proof that the U.S. is not a meritocracy.

Now that one lil’ ol’ black reporter figured out how to play the game—only now—come the howls of outrage from innocent white folks, whose very sensibilities are offended by the fact that someone got ahead on something other than pure merit.

(This is your cue to clutch the pearls and gasp in horror!)

How very O.J.-ish….Why is it that howls of outrage are raised only when black folks figure out how to work the system?

For years, I’ve been saying that blacks will truly be equal in the United States not when we are equal to whites—oh, no. We’ll know we’ve truly arrived when someone black can be substandard and still rise up the corporate ladder. After all, if it’s good enough for Stephen Glass…

Don’t think I’m defending what Blair did. Oh no. Jayson, Jayson, Jayson: Dude, what were you thinking? Did you really think you could pull one over on the New York Times?

Nah, what I’m saying is this: The myth of the meritocracy must die. Each and every person has something to use to get ahead—good looks, Ivy League degree, Mommy or Daddy’s connections, charm, personality, white skin, brown skin…

Dupont Circle