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A passionate and unimpeachable argument but in some ways wholly beside the point. Hayes eyes may be on the prize, but her tragic flaw may be the arrogance of not recognizing the ground-level details that make up the path leading to that prize. The board may have been reacting to a specific action in stripping Zacarias of his authority, but it is almost certain that Hayes recognized the symbolic importance of making a big, dramatic move in a moribund district culture that hasnt produced a big move in the last 20 years. Kerman Maddox says such symbolism is what really resonates and Hayes certainly knows that. "To the average person, it looks like this black woman took off after this Latino, which cant do anything but hurt black-Latino relations, which are already frail," he says. "Genethia may not care at all about Zacarias ethnicity, but that doesnt matter. Perception is reality." Hayes argues strenuously for herself as an individual "I am not one thing," she says but she doesnt seem quite willing to compromise that individuality even for the ultimate good of the district, or the public. Joe Hicks, director of L.A.s Human Relations Commission, once effusively described Hayes as the "the most damn stubborn woman I know," a description that may haunt her for a while.
"The anger out there is really, really profound," says attorney Rice. "Latino communities have felt a lack of representation, theyve felt shut out, theyve felt injury for the last 15 years. The divide between them and the board could turn out to be a permanent rupture."