|Beset by unconvinced public whim, Mayoral advisors, cabinet officials,
supporters and even the tightened bow-tie, city executive himself remain
chiseled by D.C. General. The political plaster cast cracks under the
pressure of changing winds, rhetorical humidity and moist discoloration.
Potomac Gotham sinks below the swampy marsh. With Anthony Williams at helm,
expect no cool Atlantic breeze pushing choppy Chesapeake Waters into
refreshing summer relief - just the usual stiff, tense, stuffed District heat
followed by very few answers and humorless mood. Sweat. Clustered commuter
streets and cluttered subway cars. Ultimately, Williams' fortitude was
crushed by the absence of effective public relations - an inherent inability
to simply relate. Rather than hold town meetings, the Mayor - obviously
unhinged - chose press conferences arranged in reactionary frustration and
To his opposing left stands the embattled City Council, backed into
constitutional oblivion and organized neglect. What a mess: a brittle
governing infrastructure broken and falling into logistical, legal and
legislative disrepair. They claw for dear life. The fuzzy fracas abound
known as DC General failed to re-affirm the Council's relevance in an
overbearing Federalist scheme peeling away any sense of autonomy. "This
control board hasn't done it," boasted Georgia Ave. Kid Wonder Adrian M. Fent
y (D-Ward 4) in The Washington Post ("Council Launches Fight for Hospital,"
4.12.2001). " … in
the end, they will not do it. It takes a lot of nerve to go against
So much for that …
The Washington City Paper's unleashed Loose Lips cannon Jonetta Rose Barras
links Council defiance to longstanding racial insecurities flowing through
the Chocolate City's veins ("A Question of Authenticity," 4.20.01). "In
other words, the D.C. General debate is another round in the District's most
pernicious game: Who is black, or liberal, enough?"
Loose Lips got props for dropping the dime on what legal scholar Lani Guinier
coined the "authenticity assumption." Yet, Barras' subsequent Black
middle-class elite diatribe, albeit strongly put, is only half-right. Even
Black folks and liberals lust for the eventual prize in any political game:
power. That's human - and Black people are human, too. The ideological side
aligned is ammunition in that special quest. The difference between liberals
and conservatives is that self-described righteous warriors of the right
admit to a thirst for control. Rising tempers and seat posturing have as
little to do with Black politicians searching for authenticity as Congress
had anything to do with DC General's generation-old chronic budget shortfalls
fueled by overspending, lax oversight and rampant hook-ups. It's really not
that deep …
"Black Power" aside, human error is … well … human. It wears no exclusive,
limited version of a chocolate brown, beige or yellow mask … nor does it
really have a political face to hide behind, because it's just there. The
Chocolate City's problems, like the Chocolate City's permanently displaced
and permeating poor are all an unforgiving fact of Chocolate City life, more
so than its potholes and carcinogenic drinking water. The fact remains that,
for better or for worse, Chocolate City government is managed by a
"Chocolate" majority, disregarding - for the moment - the presence of
auricular Vanilla hands.
However, there is a fascination with the sometimes unnecessary role race
plays in allowing certain key players to determine who the key players will
be - all the while playing the true interests of their constituents. Lost in
the vicious verbal salvos lobbed across the cotton field are intelligent
discussions concerning fundamental issues. Let's pontificate the Republican
contradiction between raving "local control" freaks simultaneously
encouraging GOP-backed, control board-fronted Federal intervention into
municipal affairs. Or: as the District builds a much needed alternative
health care "Alliance" network spanning eight prominent, private city
hospitals (George Washington University, Washington Health Center, Howard
University, Children's, etc.), will strapped DC residents have to face
embedded institutional malice towards the uninsured? Children's Hospital is
one horrifying example.
And what, specifically, constitutes "comprehensive care?"
Time to take activists to task. No doubt: DC needs a new plan - DC General
is wrecked. Now that final decisions have been made, how can they best serve
communities in desperate need of public safety and health? What steps to
take in the prevention of trauma-induced violence? AIDS? Diabetes? Heart
disease? Can Union Temple Baptist Church head and Anacostia asphalt prophet
Willie Wilson blow as loud about preventive and holistic healthcare measures
as he can about loss of Statehood, Home Rule and his piece of the political
A difficult pursuit indeed - staging protests on U Street are much easier.
Dress radically or in "revolutionary" poise; stage poetic, grandiloquent
rebellion without the weapons required; and threaten uprising resplendent in
showy, pretentious, custom tailored Kente, not knowing exactly what the
colors stand for. Wear your culture on a make-believe sleeve until the White
man's eyes water. It isn't necessarily Nat Turner or a Huey Newton look
posing on a bamboo throne. It's not like jumping off the slave ship, or
better yet, burning it - but it has its planned effect. It continues to
rally votes, bodies, minds, picket signs and Sunday tithes. It continues to
reinforce the notion, the image … the symbolism of upstanding public servants
and Great Black Hopes working in the best interest of "the people," and
working as "authentically" Black as Black can be.
The detail, the motives, the compelling plots, twists and themes are always h
idden between the lines.
Lights. Camera. Action.
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