June 21, 2013

Regarding the June 16 Magazine article “Man of soul”:

Thank you for this wonderful portrait of Mark Mitchell, a fascinating individual whose contribution to our culture is close to immeasurable.

One paragraph struck a wrong — actually painful — note with me. Forgive me if I quote at length, but context is important: “There’s always been a special place reserved in black culture for the white people who get it. Who embrace black culture with all their heart. Call it the Teena Marie niche. It’s an acknowledgment of those whites who wanted to be black — or as close as they could come — when there seemed to be little future or reward in it.”

I don’t want to be black. I’d have to be self-destructive to want to take on the daily insults, pain and danger of living as a black person in America. I love African American culture. The music, the art, the achievement, the beauty, the heroism.

I have on my wall several photographs, mostly of musicians. But one of them is the famous image of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X together, because it’s important to model yourself on somebody. Choosing two passionate, brilliant men who were more than willing to give up everything to create a nation where we can all live fulfilling lives makes sense to me.

Neil Hartbarger, Silver Spring

Thank you for this unexpected and pleasing article.I also want to commend writer Lonnae O’Neal Parker for her reference to “Washington’s professional football team.” Until The Post finds the courage to no longer allow the racial epithet that is the team’s current name to appear in its pages, it falls to individual writers, such as Parker, to act as exemplars. I am grateful to her for having done so, and I hope that her example is followed by many others.

Jack Schwartz, Rockville