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Jonetta Rose Barras’
portrayal of Valencia Mohammed (“Radical Mediocrity,” 11/1) is, sadly, all too accurate. Long ago, I had come to the same conclusions about Mohammed due to her uncanny ability to blame everyone else for problems except herself and to propose absolutely no plan for solving the problems she (often accurately) identified. To stand out in this regard in Washington, D.C., is truly an accomplishment. The D.C. Council aspirant is far more style than substance.
Having said all that, the manner and tone in which Barras accosted Mohammed veered way too much into the personal, and was typical of Barras’ “slash and burn” technique of writing about public officials who do not fall in line with her own political views.
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Barras comments that the school board is “remarkable evidence that democracy doesn’t always look after the people’s interest.” To legitimately question Mohammed’s record is one thingto call into question the ability of D.C. voters to act in their own interests is another. A writer of Barras’ considerable talent should be able to highlight the flaws of her subject without calling into question the little democracy that D.C. voters do have. Barras later says, “her radical roots leave her with a limited discourse.” Excuse me? Kwame Ture (formerly Stokely Carmichael), Dr. Francis Cress Welsing, and the late Malcolm X all have/had radical roots. It certainly did not limit their discourse. Limited discourse has to do with one’s limited formal and or informal education and not one’s political leanings.
Finally, you commented, “she changed her wild, bushy dreadlock hairdo to a more slicked-back version, with the front smooth and a dreadlock ponytail.” Try as I might, I cannot see how this personal critique of Mohammed’s hairdo speaks to her performance on the school board or what she may or may not offer as a council candidate. It does speak to Barras’ obsessive knee-jerk tendency to reject anyone who embraces indigenous African features and/or anything even remotely associated with African culture.
As a free-lance writer, I do not pretend to be totally objective and thus would not attempt to hold Barras to such a standard. We all have our degrees of subjectivity. However, it seems to me that a minimal level of professionalism employed by her would have prevented an accurate analysis from being compromised and would have allowed the reader to focus simply on the issues raised rather than the manner and tone under which they were raised.
Le Droit Park