WaPo distorts our Kojo – updated


WAMU 88.5's Kojo Nnamdi, last Fall, Busboys and Poets

So yesterday, the Twitterz were burning up with a link to an opinion piece that WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi had written for The Washington Post. It’s a great read– except for one problem. The title. WaPo called it, “For D.C., Vince Gray’s election is a bold step backward”…but that’s not what Kojo wrote:

The District today is becoming more racially, ethnically and culturally diverse than it has been in my 41 years here. The tax base is expanding, something every mayor in every city finds desirable. But this also means more affluent residents are displacing poorer residents. And with our city’s troubled racial history,gentrification can be socially and politically volatile.

That volatility has resulted in Mayor Adrian Fenty’s ouster. Vincent Gray, a decent and thoughtful man, benefited from black voters’ anger at Fenty, a result of four years of real and perceived slights by the mayor toward his black constituents. But that anger has propelled us into a future that concerns me. While the past should inform the future, it shouldn’t handcuff it…

It’s crucial that the city’s white residents understand that assertions of a post-racial District — where a mayor should not be expected to take race into account when crafting policies or making appointments — ignore the sensitivities of their black neighbors who have seen generations of dreams crushed by discrimination and racism and don’t appreciate being advised to “get over” their pain.

I was completely confused by this jamming of an eye-catching, controversial title on to a thoughtful article which doesn’t match it, at all, until I read this, in the comments section, from a Knnamdi:

I wrote this article to explain my view of the challenge Vincent Gray faces. The headline is a complete distortion of my point of view.

It’s unfortunate that the Post chose to do this– anyone who merely scanned the headline/byline (how many people still have the time to thoughtfully peruse the Sunday paper?) would probably be surprised and perhaps disappointed by what looks like a hatchet job on Vincent Gray, without realizing what had occurred to Kojo’s words, during editing.

UPDATE- Kojo confirms that was his comment.

  • Rick Rosendall

    I am so glad to read this. That headline took me aback when I saw Kojo's byline, because it just didn't sound like Kojo. Then I read the article, and wondered how the editors came up with that title for it. it appears to be another bit of pro-Fenty (or anti-Fenty-critic) bias, like the big photo on an inside page before the primary on an article about Gray, in which Gray was shown arm-in-arm with Marion Barry. The Post editors knew full well that Gray led the censure of Barry and the removal of his Council committee chairmanship; the choice of photos was clearly an implicit editorial comment. Now that the primary is over, how long are they going to continue the petty snark? Kojo certainly deserved better than to be used in this way.

  • DBizzitry

    Wow, what a great article and blog!

  • Ralph

    Kojo, it looks like the WaPo distorted your article, much like they distorted opinions of Rhee and Fenty