That Mark Francis Cohen doesn’t understand the resonance of the message of the New Black Panther Party to the blacks he interviewed (“Black Power,” 1/19) is easy to explain: He comes from a position of white privilege. He doesn’t know what it is like to be the victim of racial profiling by law enforcement. He can’t relate to the disenfranchisement felt by longtime residents when whites move in, meet mostly with each other, and then start campaigns to address neighborhood parking or pay phones or whatever. His position of white privilege makes it easy for him to state as fact that “they milled about until one began walking out without paying the full amount for a 65-cent ice cream cone.” Did the D.C. police state that as a fact? He follows a long-held American tradition holding that if you are black, you are guilty until proven innocent.
Cohen and others must understand that joining the party is not just grasping for answers to explain a desperate situation. Whites in America have a long and documented history of notorious (to use Cohen’s word) treatment of nonwhites. Even if I don’t agree with each position of the New Black Panther Party, I say more power to those that are standing to save the black community from further exploitation.