From newspapers to neighborhood blogs, all the media we are consuming and considering.


Report: Hispanics Most Likely to Use E-Readers

Flickr: Sean MacEntee

Hispanics are adopting tablet devices, such as the iPad, at faster rates than whites and blacks.

Hispanic adults are more likely to own e-readers and tablets than whites and blacks, according to a new Pew Center report.

The demographic shift in this growing segment of technology consumers happened in the past six months. Back in November 2010, 6 percent of whites and 5 percent of Hispanics owned e-readers. In May 2011, 11 percent of whites and 15 percent of Hispanics owned e-readers. The margin is even larger for tablets.

Those numbers may not be entirely surprising for those monitoring demographic trends in the technology world. Blacks and Latinos are more likely to get involved using social media, and minority groups have been very active at using smartphones and taking advantage of the full range of what they offer. But despite such gains, there is still a digital divide – in nearly all-black large swaths of D.C., for instance, high-speed Internet connectivity is below 40 percent.

Why Black Men are Wearing Prison Jumpsuits in Chinatown

Courtesy of Aaron Ginoza

An employee of the National Museum of Crime & Punishment hands out coupons to pedestrians in Chinatown.

Pedestrians in Chinatown are inundated with advertising and gimmicks, from free burritos to digital billboards. And joining the marketing blitz on a recent sweltering Saturday afternoon was a group of young black men handing out coupons — wearing orange prison jumpsuits.

They were employees of the National Museum of Crime & Punishment. Some passersby politely took the coupons; most ignored or avoided them. But given the stereotypes associated with black men and crime, others took offense at the sight of black men being hired to wear the jumpsuits.

“It’s got kind of a rough edge to it,” said Wes Brown of D.C., who first saw the men last year. He said they’re dressed “like criminals” and “people see them and probably think that.”

“It’s kind of embarrassing,” Brown, who is black, said.

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Former Post Reporter Comes Out as Undocumented Immigrant

“Undocumented immigrant” is trending locally and nationally on Twitter after news broke that former Washington Post journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Jose Antonio Vargas is an undocumented immigrant.

Vargas came out about his immigration status through a New York Times Magazine story, which was published online today. Vargas, originally from the Philippines, spent years working his way through the Post newsroom ranks in D.C., and chronicles his personal history and what led him to come out:

Last year I read about four students who walked from Miami to Washington to lobby for the Dream Act, a nearly decade-old immigration bill that would provide a path to legal permanent residency for young people who have been educated in this country. At the risk of deportation — the Obama administration has deported almost 800,000 people in the last two years — they are speaking out. Their courage has inspired me.

There are believed to be 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. We’re not always who you think we are. Some pick your strawberries or care for your children. Some are in high school or college. And some, it turns out, write news articles you might read. I grew up here. This is my home. Yet even though I think of myself as an American and consider America my country, my country doesn’t think of me as one of its own.

Vargas’ story struck me in particular because he spent so much time living and reporting here in D.C. He writes that during his time at the Post, “I began feeling increasingly paranoid, as if I had ‘illegal immigrant’ tattooed on my forehead — and in Washington, of all places, where the debates over immigration seemed never-ending.”

Vargas has now left traditional reporting to start Define American, a campaign meant to raise awareness about immigration. Watch this Define American-produced video to hear Vargas talk about his childhood and meet some of the individuals who have helped him along the way:

The Search for Produce in LeDroit Park

Last week’s Metro Connection featured a mobile market that will drive to D.C.’s food deserts and sell produce at reduced rates.

Arcadia Foods [is] a small organization that works to bring fresh produce from fields of local farms to the dinner plates of D.C. residents. The founder, Mike Babin, now has his sights set on the food deserts of D.C. by putting farmers’ markets like this one on wheels.

“We’ve got a bus and we’re calling it a mobile market that is going to be outfitted as a farmer’s market. It’s going to roll into these communities and set up shop for one day a week to just provide that food to those communities,” [Mike Babin says].

Flickr: Lisa Williams

Finding fresh and affordable produce can be a challenge in some D.C. neighborhoods.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food deserts as areas with poor access to large grocery stories — and D.C. has plenty of neighborhoods that qualify. The food desert definition doesn’t take into account whether neighborhoods without chain grocers have corner stores selling produce or farmers markets.

Some LeDroit Park residents have pointed out on the neighborhood’s Listserv that although the area lacks a big grocery store, there are a couple of neighborhood options, including Common Good City Farm and farmers markets and corner stores. Some alternatives to chain grocers may not be as affordable, but that’s not always the case.

Babin’s plans may provide a temporary fix to food deserts, but as reporter Marc Adams points out, getting people to actually buy the produce takes more than just bringing the food into neighborhoods. LeDroit Park resident Jana Baldwin, who uses food stamps, tells Adams that “many communities may feel that [the mobile vendor's produce] is only for a specific population and so it would have to definitely be marketed in a way that was inclusive to all communities.”

On Abandoning ‘Americanized’ Names

Flickr: Scott Catron

Can difficult-to-pronounce Arabic names be as American as apple pie?

The Washington Post series about life for Muslim-Americans started off with the profile of a Palestinian-American who ditched his “Americanized” name for his legal one. His decision made me think about my own struggle in reclaiming my given name.

Fawaz Ismail grew up in Texas where he asked everyone to call him Tony, a name that “put people at ease.” He remained Tony after he moved to Northern Virginia, where he helped expand his family’s flag business. But Ismail dropped his nickname after the backlash against Muslims in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Now, a decade later, his name is a daily message to his fellow Americans: They must deal with him for who he is — a Muslim who loves his country and proudly sells its banner.

“A lot of people use a nickname to make it easier for Americans to pronounce,” he says, “but now, I don’t care. They’re going to have to pronounce my name. It’s not that hard — Fah-wahz.”

Many immigrants and second-generation Americans go by nicknames rather than their legal names for a number of reasons. I’m one such example. I grew up up in a small, rural and mostly-white Maryland town, and my parents decided I should go by the nickname Ele rather than my real, very Persian name: Elahe, the Arabic word for goddess (pronounced Eh-la-heh). They went by “Americanized” names themselves in an effort to make life easier, to assimilate as quickly as possible in a foreign land. And for 21 years, I was Ele (pronounced Elie). It wasn’t until after college  that I decided to make the switch to my real name, both in my personal and professional worlds.

My decision was like Ismail’s; why must I accommodate or change my identity to convenience others or make them feel more comfortable?

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Blacks, Latinos More Likely than Whites to Get Involved Via Social Media

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

A new Georgetown University study shows that blacks and Latinos are much more likely than whites to learn about and become involved in social causes using social media.

International Business Times reports that the study found:

When it comes to ‘getting the word out,’ African Americans and Hispanics both value Facebook and other social media websites as valuable (58% and 51%, versus only 34% of Caucasians), and believe that supporting causes is easier using these routes.

New Pew Center data also shows that African-American and Latino Internet users are more likely than white Internet users to be on Twitter in the first place: 25 percent of black Internet users are on Twitter, compared to 19 percent of Latino Internet users and 9 percent of white Internet users.

These findings help debunk common stereotypes that social media is mostly used by whites and that communities of color aren’t reached by Facebook and Twitter. However, a digital divide still exists, and minorities are more likely to access the Internet using their mobile devices than a computer. High-speed Internet connectivity is below 40 percent in large swaths of D.C.’s nearly all-black wards.

‘Will Work for $44 Million’

Some guerrilla marketing hit D.C.’s streets this morning with young, suited men promoting HBO’s film “Too Big To Fail,” as tweeted by @PeoplesDistrict.

Courtesy of Danny Harris/People's District

A promoter for HBO's "Too Big To Fail" holds this sign up at 14th and I streets NW Thursday morning.

The signs may seem more appropriate on Wall Street, where financial executives are more likely to pull in multimillion dollar salaries, than in downtown D.C. But there are definitely people living or working in the District who aren’t doing so bad for themselves. Contrast that with the city’s poverty rates: D.C. has one of the highest percentages of children living in poverty (29.4 percent) and seniors living in poverty (14.6 percent).

Tweet of the Day, 05.17

@DCntrc for all the bias against renters they are more tight knit than single family homeowners, i think.
Sylvia C. Brown

This tweet was sent in response to our post on tightly-knit communities in Anacostia.

On Asking ‘Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive?’

Talk about a problematic question: in a blog post on Psychology Today’s website, Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics, wonders why black women are less physically attractive.

If you try to look at the post, you’re out of luck. It was published on Sunday, but in an email to DCentric, a Psychology Today editor confirms that the post was permanently removed from the website for editorial reasons. The publication had no official comment on the post, but the move came on Monday afternoon after Kanazawa’s writing had already caused a firestorm on Twitter.

Screenshot: Psychology Today

Satoshi Kanazawa's blog post on black women and beauty was taken down permanently.

Kanazawa developed his question using data from the Add Health study, in which a representative sample set of adolescent Americans have been interviewed three times in the past seven years. At the end of each interview, the interviewer rated the physical attractiveness of the participant on a five-point scale. This total was then averaged out, and based on that, black women were found to be less attractive than their white, Asian and Native American counterparts. Kanazawa calls this an “objective” rating.

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