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AFTER READING JONETTA Rose Barras’ most recent tirade against modalities of “black” expression and experience in America (“Black Hole,” 5/19), I am again left asking, “So what?” In outlining the “crisis” of black leadership, Barras did nothing but ascribe to black leaders categories of incompetence which are generally applicable to American public officials in general. But then, given Barras’ previous articles on literary black rage and intraracial prejudice, it is clear that her most recent purpose has been to operate as designated attack dog against what her Washington City Paper colleagues discern as black ontological bankruptcy in the District. The pitfalls of affirmative action, perhaps?
What Barras’ article might have considered is the sheer poverty of the concept of “leader” itself, be it within the “black community”—an anachronistic concept—or American society as a whole. There are simply too many subjective experiences demanding political leverage nowadays, and it is well-nigh impossible to find a figure who embodies principles which, in turn, do not mobilize constituencies in opposition. Part of the poverty of black leadership, for example, is the failure to address the human viability of alternative sexualities. Yet this crisis is hardly limited to us black folk, as witnessed by the rise of “Christian” rhetoric.
Fragmentation has problematized the very notion of leadership, and if solutions are to be found, they hardly reside in reifying one particular group and subjecting it to a sanctimonious catalog of daggers. It is precisely such discursive strategies which have allowed assholes such as Barry to win re-election by disavowing personal and political responsibility, projecting blame onto “the white man.” Barry has recently shown himself a master at exploiting many blacks’ ill-informed desire for a black leader.
Kalorama, via the Internet