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JONETTA ROSE BARRAS’ “Black Hole” (5/19) broached only the tip of the problem facing Washington’s black residents. Indeed, she aptly describes the utter lack of leadership on the part of such well-known black figures as Marion Barry, James Cheek, and Benjamin Chavis. The problem, however, transcends these men and reflects the degradation of the entire black race in the nation’s capital.

The District of Columbia, the first major city in the U.S. to have a majority black population and to wrest political power from the white, congressionally appointed board of commissioners, once served as a beacon for the progress of the entire race. The idea of progress has been unfortunately extinguished over the past decades. Instead, one sees a race that cannot manage anything, be it simple garbage pickup, recycling, decent public housing, teaching children, repairing streets, or even treating their fellow man with common decency. The white political structure in Washington through the ’50s was never as malevolent, corrupt, or incompetent as what we endure today.

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The city’s quality of life has deteriorated immensely. One only has to ride a Metrobus through any part of the city to see how the black race has completely lost any sense of self-respect. Twelve-year-old children scream at each other, shouting obscenities and freely calling each other “nigger” on the buses. No one says a word. Other passengers (mostly black) sit in fear of these out-of-control monsters, and bus drivers (all black) refuse to do anything. At the same time, a large element of Washington’s black population (all ages and sexes) spends its days and nights in front of Washington’s plentiful liquor stores, screaming, littering, fighting, and drinking in public, not to mention urinating and defecating for all to see.

Far too many blacks have no pride in anything and our entire city suffers as a result. The District is recoiling from incredible rates among blacks of drug abuse, alcoholism, violence, and other indicators of self-destruction. The virtual disappearance of the black nuclear family in the city only exacerbates this trend. Despite all of these shocking facts, Washington’s black political leaders prefer to pass all of this as part of the “plan” to diminish their political strength.

As the article points out, black leaders prefer to embellish their positions at the expense of the well-being of their own people. As a Washingtonian, I welcome the “control board” and earnestly hope that it will liberate this city from the grips of the racial demagogues now theoretically in charge. Maybe we can then enjoy such simple services as clean alleys and streets, not to mention a viable recycling program. Is that too much to ask?

East Capitol Hill