I AM BLACK AND HAVE lived in this city for four years. During that time, I have seen and experienced enough of the misery that is the District of Columbia to be angry, embarrassed, and deeply ashamed. Jonetta Rose Barras’ “Black Hole” (5/19) is a striking testament as to why Barry and his ilk pose a serious threat and damaging esteem problem for the community that spawned them.
But Barry, former Howard University President James Cheek, and the NAACP are not the cause of the community’s ills—they are the symptoms. They are symptomatic of an intellectual apathy that has left America unable or unwilling to differentiate between class and race, moral indignation and mean-spiritedness, vision and opportunism. This crisis is neither new nor race-specific; the leadership of the House of Representatives’ combination of social degrees and vast social ignorance only underscores the fact that sloppy thinking, responsibility shirking, and lack of vision are just storm fronts of the ever-popular American “revolution.”
The problem is that the African-American community—which has only recently been able to begin taking advantage of its dearly won civil and economic rights—can least afford to inherit this self-victimizing, self-defeating, and ultimately devastating whirlwind.