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“The unyielding racial divide that is the primary fact of life in the District isn’t going anywhere.” Thus ends Jonetta Rose Barras’ “Race Trumps All” (5/16). By the cursory glance most Washington City Paper readers gave the editorial, one can assume it is yet another clichéd tirade against the takeover of D.C. by “the ruling class of whites” from the poor, forlorn mayor/martyr Marion Barry. Those of us who gave the article a more detailed reading were unpleasantly surprised to find that it was, in fact, a mishmash of disjointed, misguided opinions and inconsistencies.

Ostensibly, the piece covered recent polling results reported by the Washington Post. However, the Post polls were hardly mentioned. In truth, the subject of the polls only served as cover for Barras’ own haphazard rantings about race in D.C.

I am impressed with her writing ability. It must be difficult to write while simultaneously finger-pointing in every direction. In one paragraph she states, “White people run the organizations that run the District.” Yet she goes on to say it is Barry who “still controls the levers of government.” Which is it, Ms. Barras?

She tries mightily to heap the blame for D.C.’s decay upon Congress, the Federal City Council, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, and others—people she calls “the Man.” Yet she continually casts Marion Barry “as unsavory as any politician in the universe,” and even states that middle-class black voters in the 1994 election had to “abandon common sense” in order to vote for him.

Just where, in reality, do we rest the blame? And more importantly, how do we seek solutions? No answers are apparent in this piece, because everything is treated as black or white. The problems in this city are not black problems or white problems, they are accountability problems and responsibility problems.

The plight of African-Americans in D.C., and the degradation of the city, exist not because of some fantastic conspiracy by “the white power structure” to keep “the black folk” down. It exists because most voters continue to kowtow to Marion Barry and his like, merely because they are black. These problems exist because Barry continues to exploit the sentiment of the majority population despite his inadequacies as a mayor.

It is true that “the unyielding racial divide that is the primary fact of life in the District isn’t going anywhere.” But it is true only because Barras, Barry, and people like them continue to force race as the only issue, rather than using sound judgment to make decisions regardless of color. As long as Almighty Race is shoved in as the centerpiece of the discussion table, no one can see around it enough to come to terms.

Centreville, Va.

via the Internet