Ronald D. White must have recently removed his rose-colored glasses if he is just realizing role models aren't living up to the "ideal" they are supposed to {With Black Role Models Like These . . . ," op-ed, May 29}.

Role models -- black or white -- haven't been carrying their weight since the days of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Nevertheless, Mr. White shouldn't be so quick to dismiss all the black role models in the "upper echelons of the District government."

True, D.C. government officials have been plagued with charges of wrongdoing and even some convictions, but black youths can learn from them as well.

First, black officials should be admired for having beaten the odds stacked against them. As Mr. White pointed out, unemployment for black males is twice that of white males, and 40 percent of the black students in the United States are below grade average in skills.

The fact that black men and women in the District government have overcome these hindrances and gained high-ranking roles through education and experience should be an inspiration to black youths and something for them to emulate.

Second, the fact that some officials have been charged with wrongdoing should serve as a warning to those young people who would consider abusing the power they may gain. Climbing to the top through responsibility and hard work may not be as quick or glamorous as the corrupt way, but young blacks and whites are now seeing that the penalties for getting caught outweigh the temporary benefits. PAULITA KINCER Arlington