Farewell, DCentric

Today is my last day as the senior reporter for DCentric. It’s been a little over a year since I started writing for this blog, and I’m blown away at just thinking about all of the interesting topics I’ve had the opportunity to explore.

I have my own highlights, among them: producing a series on D.C.’s unemployment divide; asking why the local crime and punishment museum hires black men to wear prison jumpsuits; exploring what’s behind rock bands playing D.C.’s Ethiopian restaurants; and writing about gentrification — a lot. I’m also grateful that I’ve been able to share some personal stories about identity. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my posts at least half as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.

This beat has been challenging, too. Race and class can be loaded, emotionally-charged topics, and they typically come with broad declarations of what’s right and wrong. I’ve learned a lot in my time here, but above all, it’s that things aren’t usually cut and dry. I hope meaningful conversations about these issues continue to happen in D.C., and that they grow in number. Such discussions will be important as we figure out how to navigate all of the changes our city is going through.

So, many thanks to my colleagues, both here at WAMU 88.5 and elsewhere. You’ve provided me with support and feedback, and for that, I am grateful.

And finally, of course, I’d like to thank to you, the readers. I strongly believe in DCentric’s mission: to explore race and class and open up a space for elevated discourse. If I’ve had any success here, it’s in large part to the readers. Thank you for following my work, questioning it, offering insightful comments and contributing to this ongoing conversation, whether in person or over Twitter. I’m moving on, but stay in touch. Seriously!


Taking Risks Can Be Expensive

Flickr: Ken Mayer

DCentric reader Martin Moulton left this comment on Elahe’s post about WABA’s attempts to encourage bicycle use east of the Anacostia River by hosting riding classes for adults:

Bravo WABA. In California, 40+ years ago, my mom cycle commuted daily to work well into her late 30s. You see a lot of African American men taking advantage of cycling as well as Latinos going to and from work downtown. But I think that minority women in DC are still [wisely] waiting for facilities and safety conditions to improve. Those who are sole heads of households can’t take hazardous risks every day when they have young or senior citizens who depend on them.

According to Elahe, the majority of the ten people who showed up for WABA’s class were women. Still, reading Martin’s last sentence reminded me that being able to try new things is a form of privilege. Biking in the city is already daunting for some people; single parents who work at jobs that don’t include health insurance or sick days may– with good reason– think twice about taking risks they cannot afford.

First Generation, Second Generation, American

Flickr: Rakkhi Samarasekera

"Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand, glows world-wide welcome..."

One of you kindly asked about my use of the term “second generation” in my last post, about perception and privilege. Here’s what I wrote:

I may classify myself as a second generation, South Asian American of Malayalee Christian descent, but that is almost never what others see.

When I type “second generation”, I’m referring to the fact that I am the child of immigrants, and though no one ever assumes this about me, I was born here, in the United States; I consider my parents “first generation” Americans. This understanding of generations is similar to the Japanese method of classifying immigrants and their offspring (Issei, Nisei, etc).

Others disagree, and think that the children of immigrants are “first”, but where would that leave the actual immigrants? At zero? Second, it is.

Interestingly enough, another Project Argo site, KPCC’s Multi-American (tagline: Immigration and cultural fusion in the new Southern California) recently posted about such terms while starting a new feature– the cultural mashup dictionary. Why?
Continue reading

Your newest DCentric blogger

My name is Elahe Izadi and I’m joining Anna John here on DCentric.

Anne Stopper

Anna John (left) and Elahe Izadi (right) are your DCentric bloggers.

I’m a reporter by day and a story teller at heart, whether it’s online or on a stage. I came from TBD.com, where I wrote about squirrel underwear, broke a story about a National Archives raid and became the power outage lady. Previous to that, I covered Prince George’s County, reported from El Salvador and a South Dakota Native American reservation and lived in Panama. And yes, I’m a local — well, sort of. I was born in D.C. and have lived in or near the city for some years now, but I grew up in a small, rural Maryland town. Does that still count? Probably not.

Issues of race and class permeate almost everything in the District, from where we send our kids to school to which acts get booked at music venues. I’m passionate about examining these connections in the nuanced way they demand, and I hope to ask some difficult questions here on DCentric and gain some meaningful insights along the way. Have a story idea or something you want to see on the blog? You can leave a comment below, or contact me directly: eizadi@wamu.org, or via the Twitter machine @ElaheIzadi.

Oh, and I hate writing about myself.

Are you a fan of DCentric?


Let us know, by liking us on Facebook. We crave approval. And wall posts. Story ideas. Thoughtful discussions. You get the idea. Special shout-out to DCentric-loyalist Nastassia, who will be extra happy to learn of this news. Natassia was one of DCentric’s first readers, and she rightfully pointed out that not everyone who would like to receive updates from this blog uses or likes Twitter. Well, fret no more, you Facebook-fiends…we’re on the social network!

On Being Complicit, “Black Trash” and Reverse Racism

Flickr: xcode

Oh, *you* try and find an appropriate image for this post which won't anger someone.

I try to encourage commenting on DCentric because when readers share their perspectives, it can be edifying. For example, check out the comment Molly W. left under my last post, “Gray, Lanier and Thomas Tour North Capitol After Murders“. It deserves to be seen (emphasis mine):

In my own neighborhood (east of Capitol Hill), crime against white residents consistently seem to provoke an outcry that we just don’t hear when there are crimes against black residents.

However, it often comes across poorly to imply people are overreacting to a crime against a white person — it seems like an attempt to dismiss the white victim. Ideally, instead of making less fuss about white victims, we’d make just as much fuss about black victims. Sadly, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

I think a small part of it is access — I hear about many of these crimes on the neighborhood e-mail list, which seems to be whiter than the community at large (though that’s just my guess, I can’t say for sure).

More than that, I think it’s a lot easier for white residents to imagine that black victims of crime are somehow complicit — attacked b/c they’re in the drug trade or dating criminals or whatever. When a white person (or even someone who isn’t white, as long as s/he isn’t black) is attacked, there seems to be a much stronger, visceral sense of “that could’ve been *me*” among white neighbors.

(I’m white myself, don’t know if that makes a difference.)

Continue reading

About that Petworth Safeway…


DCentric quoted incorrect information. DCentric, like Hulk, speak in third-person.

Even though 99% of you refuse to comment (kidding!), I know that DCentric has the BEST readers a new-ish blog could ask for– I can tell by your emails, which are often poignant, eloquent and very helpful. I welcome your suggestions and corrections and am grateful to learn all I can from you. For example, one of you wrote to me about my Petworth Safeway post, from earlier today:

Hey Anna,

FYI the Georgetown “Social Safeway” is 71,000 square feet, according to a spokesperson. That means the 60,000 square-foot Petworth Safeway (if this is the size it will be as Prince of Petworth reported) will not be the biggest Safeway in the city (Prince of Petworth made this claim.)…
Just thought you might like to know because that knowledge does make the enlargement of the Petworth Safeway a little less symbolic.

To reiterate, I did not make the claim that this Safeway would be the city’s largest– that information was in the text I quoted from Prince of Petworth; having said that, I know I am responsible for what I quote or direct you to and I am sorry for the error. I called Safeway to clarify this– and ask a few questions of my own, since I’m extra-interested in grocery stores, food deserts and nutrition. I haven’t heard back yet, but I’ll update you all when I do. Thanks to dedicated DCentric reader Teke Wiggin for the gentle correction. I appreciate it!

“It’s not that we don’t care or understand, it’s that we’re poor.”

Flickr: District 47

Organic, vegan food from a Bento.

Kindly allow me to start this post by thanking you. I am humbled by the letters I am receiving regarding “The Privilege of Prioritizing Organic Food“. Your emails are thoughtful and heartfelt; I am grateful for them, and for the way you have shared my story on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you.

I wrote that post on Thursday and a few of you have left comments, the majority of which were productive and welcome additions to DCentric. One comment, however, stood out. It bothered me enough that I wanted to respond to it, but I kept revising my reply because I am sensitive to the challenges of creating a trusted space for discussing personal or controversial issues (that’s my ultimate goal with this blog), and I don’t want to discourage anyone from sharing their point of view. That is why I’m so glad one of you addressed the questionable comment, instead.

Here’s the comment that I wanted to call out, from “Organic Trade”. After reading it, I wondered if I hadn’t conveyed my point well enough– buying organic may be easier and more affordable than ever, but it’s still beyond the reach of too many people, no matter what their “priorities” are. Also, I don’t understand how choosing organic and thus, more expensive versions of something you buy a lot of is an “easy way to save”:
Continue reading

The lickings will continue, until morale improves.

Flickr: Smithsonian's National Zoo

The best time to view the lion cubs at the Zoo is 12:30 every day, but they may not be outside, especially if it is cold...or if an extra-good episode of Sesame Street is on.

I often post “Awww!”-inspiring pictures of local baby animals whenever I have to go away for several hours, but I feel like this image is especially poignant and meaningful; you see, much like a parent taking care of the more mundane– and yet crucial!– aspects of raising a child, my generous employer, American University, is similarly cleaning me behind the ears when I’d rather be playing. And by cleaning, I mean training and by playing I mean blogging. I’m off to a training until 2pm. Regularly scheduled programming after that, not that it will be anywhere near this cute.

Bread for the City is celebrating today.

Flickr: BBC World Service

A food chart for clients of Bread for the City. Next week, DCentric will take a closer look at the triumphant expansion of both their facilities and services.

I’m leaving the blog for a few hours to go visit Bread for the City–a front line agency serving Washington’s poor– for a very happy reason:

As we approach the end of this year, it already feels like the start of something new. Our expanded Northwest Center is partially up and running, and the excitement of what’s to come is in the air…

I hope you’ll join us to celebrate this new chapter: all are invited to attend the Grand Opening on Friday January 7th, from 4-7pm at 1525 7th street NW. We’ll be joined by Councilmembers and other city leaders to cut the ribbon and raise a cheer for the growth to come.

At the beginning of this week, I spoke to Bread for the City’s Executive Director, George Jones, about how his organization was able to expand during a recession and what such an expansion meant for the D.C. residents who depend on his agency’s services. Look for a two-part interview with Jones next week, right here. Now if you’ll kindly excuse me, I’m off to take pictures of the expanded facilities; if you’ll be so helpful as to tweet something amusing, I’ll make sure it gets enshrined as today’s Tweet of the Day, which will be up later tonight. Happy Friday!