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Your article about the New Black Panther Party (“Black Power,” 1/19) ranges from worrying to outrageous on two accounts.
First, as a piece of writing, it hides itself under a mischievous sense of objectivism that does nothing but blur the situation. It pretends to be an honest account of what this movement is doing in the District, but what it really does is to show the limited work of a reporter who did very little to shed light on the issues of extremist groups. Other than petty anecdotes, it does not offer a sensitive picture of how many members this group is enrolling, what its growth is, how its resources are gained and administered, or any other measure of how it is really affecting life in the District. I’m afraid that, by offering such a partial view, this article will only act as a scaremonger among the readers and will reinforce the intentions of the party by giving it a much-needed dose of publicity. It might turn out to be another little contribution to interracial fear and race segregation.
Second, it is important to stand against the current views of the New Black Panther Party. Misunderstanding the problems of the District and of the U.S. population in favor of extremist views will only benefit the leaders of the party and those leaders they oppose. For instance, the issue of gentrification may be more detrimental to blacks in the District, but this is not solely because they are African-Americans; it is also because poverty in the District concentrates on this ethnic group. Gentrification is equally an issue that is affecting the nonblack population across the countryand the Western world. And it is not doing so because of race but because of income. It is the level of social inequality that matters more than race across the nation.
In any case, any utopian view should be inclusive and not exclusive. To achieve this end, we should work from within the existing situation and aim for an integrative world where equality and welfare expands and is shared across all humans regardless of race, religion, or culture. The desire for a world where blacks are segregated from the rest not only is wrong and will take the fight for civil rights some decades back, but it also gives ammunition to those on the other end of the linethose who want white segregation back and the return and expansion of other detrimental inequalities.