As a concerned black American male I find Hank De Zutter’s story “What Makes Obama Run?” (December 8) quite revealing in terms of what we can expect from young African-American political leaders like Obama, as we approach the year 2000.

Firstly, this particular excerpt from his memoir Dreams From My Father, was quite astonishing to me : “Upon my return to Chicago I would find the signs of decay accelerated throughout the South Side–the neighborhoods shabbier, the children edgier and less restrained, more middle-class families heading out to the suburbs, the jails bursting with glowering youth, my brothers without prospects.”

In Franz Faron’s brilliant book “White Skin Black Mask” he dabbles with the effects of colonialization and the colonized mind. I see kinship with Barack Obama’s arrival in Chicago. He writes as if he has undergone some metamorphic change after returning from Harvard. In the same context of black Martinican students returning from France. Faron started that that the students returning home to Martinique seemed to had undergone an almost baptismal transformation. They now viewed their home from French eyes.

As the first African-American president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review, I wonder if Barack Obama was a token hostage in a hermetically sealed office on the Harvard campus because he certainly doesn’t understand how any urbane city with a black underclass, like Chicago’s South Side will fester the ravages of an eroding economic infrastructure. I’m sure if Mr. Obama had ventured out of his Harvard Law Review offices into the surrounding Bostonian underclass he wouldn’t had been so shocked after returning to Chicago.

I hope that Barack Obama, as he runs as a Democratic for the 13th District on the South side, will reevaluate some of his political views. I also feel that despite his naivete he is a good, sincere, and passionate organizer that will carry a voice downstate. How that voice will affect a mean-spirited Republican congress is anybody’s guess.

In closing, I found Obama’s views either ill thought or just plain contradictory. For instance, he compares the poverty of Altgeld Gardens with that of Indonesia, which comes off as a non sequitur because of the historical remnants of institutional slavery in this country. Obama talks almost romantically about the order in the Djankarta markets and the absence of such coherence in Altgeld?

Mr. Obama, will you please give me your definition of coherence? In your myopic analysis of Altgeld’s politico-socio-economic problems which are infinitely more complex than Indonesian workers; workers whom experience is an entirely different cultural matrix.

Altgeld Gardens should be shut down not refurbished, renovated or reinvested because of the well-documented ppm of carcinogenic pollutants being ingested every second by the residents from nearby waste dumps. Mr. Obama, if you become the senator of the 13th District will you tell the people down state about the high death ratio stemming from pulmonary lung disease in that area and whatever you do don’t suggest building factories along the banks of the Calumet River.


John H. Sibley