Be Careful with Your Boxes

Flickr: mark sebastian

Some presents are way cuter than others, right? Anyway, be careful about when you put this box out!

In case you missed it, this story from WAMU’s Jessica Gould has some timely and wise advice:

Burglaries in Washington are up 14 percent in December compared to a year ago. And D.C. police are urging residents to be careful as they put away their Christmas packages.

Assistant Police Chief Alfred Durham says Santa Claus isn’t the only stranger who wants to slip into your house this season…And Durham says those big boxes are like red flags for burglars.

“So why not keep those packages or the packaging inside the home until trash collection day? That way folks who are doing these casing neighborhoods will not see that, ‘Hey, here’s a good target — they have a brand new 42-inch flat screen TV,’” he says.

Durham also advises residents to keep their doors locked and their alarms on.

This makes so much sense, but it’s not like it would occur to most people that breaking down a box to remove clutter inside the home and putting it outside is a great way to broadcast to the world that someone got a brand new TV, laptop or toy. Be careful, out there.

On Today’s Metro Connection…

Rebecca Sheir/Metro Connection

While WAMU is nationally-known for The Diane Rehm Show, and locally-beloved for The Kojo Nnamdi Show, as of last week, I’ve found myself falling for WAMU’s other exclusive program: Metro Connection. I mention last week because last Friday, I listened to one of the stories from MC twice– and that was before I blogged about it. This week, I’m having driveway moments all over again, and just in case you missed it, I thought I’d spotlight two stories that DCentric readers may find interesting. First up:

A Legacy Of Education

Rebecca Sheir introduces us to Lynn C. French, whose African-American family has deep roots in the D.C. area… and a rich history/legacy of education. Her forebears include Emma Brown, who founded one of the first schools for African-Americans in D.C., and several of the early trustees of Howard University.

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DCentric is hiring!


You already knew that Project Argo’s Matt Thompson is guest blogging here for a week, but I also received a bit of help with the morning roundup today, for which I am very grateful. A DCentric applicant contributed one of those six links and since I’m down with the flu, I am very happy for the help. That reminds me– WAMU is hiring another blogger for DCentric!

The new, open position is part-time (think: 25 hours a week), but I can vouch for how amazing an opportunity it is– in my email signature I refer to this as my “dream job” and that’s not hype. If you have experience with podcasts, never leave home without a video camera, understand why it’s redundant to “sign” blog comments and promise to never call a “post” a “blog”, holler at us.

If you have to ask how to reach us, this may not be the job for you (hint: my email is always on the site, even when we’re not looking for talent). Interest in race, class, history, gentrification, awkward situations and pancakes is a must. Your ability to follow directions, write clean copy and think outside the blog will be rewarded with an interview (or three) and quite possibly, the best job ever. Ready? GO!

Now Listening to: “The Quander Quality”, on Metro Connection

Courtesy of: Quander Historical Society. Inc.

A photograph of Dr. John Thomas Quander from Metro Connection's slide show.

Last Friday’s Metro Connection had a wonderful story that would’ve inspired me to sit in my driveway vs. miss a moment of it, had I been in a car– it was about a local African-American family that defies the long-accepted stereotype that D.C. is a city for transients:

Rebecca Sheir introduces us to the Quanders: the oldest African-American family in D.C., and, possibly, the United States. Records show the family has been in the region since the late 1600s. These days, the family runs the Quander Historical Society, and keeps records at Howard University and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library.

The Quander’s family site has this very American story about their surname (and there’s even more about this in Rebecca’s piece):

The Quander Family is believed to have originated from an ancestor with the last name of “Amkwandoh” from Ghana, West Africa and “Quando” as the name appeared in the 1800s.

From learning about Quanders who worked at Mount Vernon to hearing about their epic, three-day reunion at Howard University in 1984 (which celebrated 300 years of documented presence with over 1,000 family members), the entire piece deserves a listen.

How to put the “Happy” in our Holidays


SOME's 40th Anniversary Thanksgiving Day Trot for Hunger

I had a lovely thanksgiving. I rarely get to see my only sibling on that day which is dedicated to families, but this year, I spent it with her, eating pizza. That’s a tradition she unwittingly created while serving in the Air Force, overseas. Like me, she’s a strict vegetarian, and when she was stationed in certain countries, the biggest treat she could find was pizza, so every year for almost a decade, that’s what she ate. I’m proud to continue that tradition with her, because of the poignant story behind it.

So that’s how I spent my Thanksgiving– with family, eating cheese, introducing everyone to the wonder that is “Boardwalk Empire“. We even indulged in some eye-roll-worthy retail shenanigans at midnight. But what stands out to me most about this Thanksgiving–even more than the Gino’s pizza which was lovingly carried here from Chicago for us to enjoy– was how we started that morning; we were up by 6 and on the Mall by 7am, looking for parking so that four of us could participate in the So Others Might Eat 5k. I am embarrassed to admit that aside from being excited about naming our team (“Pilgrim and Wrong Indians”), I was grumbling about my lack of sleep and the lack of sun (or warmth) at such a cold, early hour.
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On Kojo, Tomorrow: LGBT Youth in D.C.

Michael Paolantonio

Andrew Barnett of SMYAL

I wish I had seen this earlier, so I could have posted it when you were all bored at work and more likely to see it. After reading the following preview, I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s Kojo Nnamdi show and I thought some of you might be interested in it, too:

Bullying and suicide often come to mind in daily conversations about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. But young people from these communities confront a wide range of challenges their straight peers never see, often with little support from their families or schools. We hear about the personal experiences and activism of local LGBT youth.

One of the scheduled guests, Andrew Barnett, is Executive Director of the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL). The KNS website has the following video of a local 16-year old named Sydney, who goes to SMYAL just so she can “be (herself)”.
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“Stigma kills people and spreads HIV”

Trygve.u/Armenian Red Cross Youth

In case you missed it, here’s a must-read interview from WAMU about how powerful the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS is. This story is heartbreaking:

Dr. Sohail Rana is a member of Howard University’s Department of Pediatrics. As Washington, D.C., tries to reduce the incidence of HIV, Rana asks, “Is the stigma associated with HIV now worse than the disease itself?”:

Angel died last Saturday. She was 18. I was her doctor since she was four.

She used to call me Dad.

Technically, Angel died of an AIDS-related illness. The truth is, Angel died from the stigma related to HIV.

Angel contracted the disease at birth from her mother. With today’s medicine, she could have lived a long, productive life.

But many people, including her family members, made her feel dirty because of HIV. She felt rejected.

In shame, she refused to take her medication. Consequently, her HIV progressed to AIDS. The untreated AIDS led to her death.

Welfare Reform on KNS, in two hours.

A quick programming note– look what’s airing today at noon, on The Kojo Nnamdi show: “Rethinking Welfare: We explore recent proposals to cap welfare benefits offered to poor residents in the District of Columbia.”

The District of Columbia has long offered generous welfare benefits to poor city residents. But this week, local lawmakers suggested that more needs to be done to break dependence on government assistance. We examine a proposal to put a lifetime cap on welfare benefits, and what it would mean for D.C. residents.

This has been an extra-hot topic since Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry discussed it on FOX last week (and then followed-up that buzzed-about appearance with an Op-Ed in the Post).