In Your Words: New York Times Tackles D.C.’s Gentrification

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The Grey Lady published a feature about gentrification around H Street NE and how the city is losing its black majority:


The shift is passing without much debate, but it is leaving ripples of resentment in neighborhoods across the city, pitting some of the city’s long-term residents, often African-American, against affluent newcomers, most of whom are white, over issues as mundane as church parking and chicken wings.

The story makes mention of the defeat of Adrian M. Fenty in the 2010 mayoral race and how some focused on used dog parks and bike lanes as symbols for affluent whites “re-arrang[ing] spending priorities to suit themselves.” Adam Serwer of The American Prospect argues the disparity in unemployment rates was the issue in the election; for whites, unemployment increased by 1 percent, while it increased by 5 percent for African Americans and doubled for Latinos:

What happened during Fenty’s term was that black people and Hispanic people lost their jobs while white people largely kept theirs. Blaming this on Fenty is unfair, but given that politicians are always evaluated in part by the jobs they help create (or lose) voting him out was an entirely rational decision. I’m not sure why, in a story about Washington DC’s internal racial divisions, the only mention of this is a throwaway line about unemployment in Ward 8. Alongside the city’s black exodus, the uneven impact of the economic crisis is the story.

The story touched off a Twitter debate among locals about the city’s changing face and how the media and the public talks about gentrification: