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


‘You know there are two Twitters, right?’

You know there are two Twitters, right? #REM trending, but the top TT in the US is #youknowyoughetto. (Black Twitter 1, Other Twitter 0.)
J. Freedom du Lac

African Americans make up 25 percent of Twitter users, despite only making up about 12 percent of the general population, according to a 2010 Edison Research study.

Twitter is relatively “blacker” than the United States in part because of how easy it is to access the popular status-updating program via cell phones. Sending a tweet uses nearly the same number of characters — 140 — allowed for text messages. Half of all Twitter users send tweets with their mobile phones, and people of color are more likely to access the Internet using cellphones. So, high-speed internet is wonderful, but unnecessary for using Twitter.

Circling back to the tweet above from Washington Post reporter J. Freedom du Lac, it would behoove us to be mindful that black people may also listen to R.E.M., non-blacks are probably using or reading tweets classified with the “#youknowyoughetto“-hashtag and trending topics are not a zero-sum game. If “Troy Davis” is not trending, that doesn’t mean people aren’t talking about him. It just means more people are talking about “#newfacebook,” or whatever else is popular at any given moment on “black” and “other” Twitter.

Kanazawa is Grounded for a Year by LSE

Flickr: indiekidsdontdance

The London School of Economics.

In May of this year, Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics penned a controversial blog post for Psychology Today asking, “Why are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?” Kanazawa was widely condemned for his views and Psychology today removed his post from their site, then fired him.

Meanwhile, students at the London School of Economics called for Kanazawa’s dismissal. According to Racialicious, which published an update to Kanazawa’s situation, the students didn’t get the outcome for which they were hoping:

The LSE has now published the findings of an internal investigation into the affair, ruling that Dr Kanazawa had “brought the school into disrepute” and barring him from publishing in non-peer-reviewed outlets for a year.

The inquiry, details of which were released to staff on 15 September, also concludes that he had “ignored the basic responsibility of a scientific communicator to qualify claims made in proportion to the certainty of the evidence”.

It found that “some of the arguments used…were flawed and not supported by evidence, that an error was made in publishing the blog post” and that Dr Kanazawa had not given “due consideration to his approach or audience”.

In addition to the 12-month ban, he will not teach any compulsory courses this academic year.

Racialicious’ Andrea Plaid characterized this reaction as a “slap on the wrist.” What do you think?

How Not to Claim Racial Bias

Courtesy of Armando Trull / WAMU

Cornell Jones is accused of using HIV/AIDS money to renovate Stadium, a D.C. strip club.

The nonprofit leader accused of using D.C. HIV/AIDS funding to renovate a strip club has claimed racial bias is the reason behind the probe. And then he went on to use an anti-gay slur against city leaders.

Cornell Jones, who is black and runs a nonprofit under investigation by the D.C. Attorney General, made the remarks during his WOL-AM 1450 Saturday radio talk show, The Washington Times reports. He said the investigation is the result of racial bias from white city leaders and then described two white and openly gay D.C. Councilmen — David Catania (At-Large) and Jim Graham (Ward 1) –  as “a couple of gay guys who sometimes get to acting like little faggots.” Councilman Catania urged the attorney general to launch the probe, and Councilman Graham has been vocal about his outrage over the findings, the Times reports.

Some have taken to Twitter to urge people to file complaints with the Federal Communications Commission over Jones’ use of the slur on air.

Jones, a self-described former drug kingpin, runs the nonprofit Miracle Hands. A lawsuit brought by the D.C. Attorney General alleges Jones’ nonprofit was given about $330,000 in public money intended to renovate a Northeast warehouse into a job training facility for District residents with HIV/AIDS. The suit claims Jones used the funds to build out Stadium, a strip club that shares an address with the Miracle Hands.


Five Takeaways ‘On the symbolism—and politics—of bicycling in D.C.’

Flickr: M.V. Jantzen

Bike lane, Dupont Circle

Is the anger in D.C. toward bicyclists misdirected? This week’s  Washington City Paper cover story explores the issue. Here are five points in the article that stand out:

Bike lanes are inaccurately characterized as a “welcome mat ”  for rich, white gentrifiers. Yet some of the locals in Ward 3,which includes Tenleytown, dislike bike lanes as much as people  in Ward 7, Fairlawn . So people of all races and classes can find common ground in their discomfort with bike lanes: “If anti-bike-lane sentiment were really about race or class, it’s unlikely that a white guy from Ward 3 and a black guy from Ward 7 would sound nearly exactly the same when they talk about the topic.” Reporter Alex Baca suggests the feeling comes from old-timers who see the bike lanes as a symbol of change.

Bikes are seen as oppositional to cars. Cars symbolize powerful things like freedom and the “American” way. Bicyclists are then tarred with an extremely negative brush: “Anyone with access to a Bruce Springsteen album knows there are deep veins of American culture where four wheels signify freedom, adulthood, and maybe even America itself. Those who shun automobiles, by extension, shun all of those things. Like grown-ups playing kickball or attending Twitter-fed snowball fights, such a rejection of traditional adulthood seems like the realm of the privileged.”

It’s the media’s fault. Quick, what’s an easy way to encapsulate complicated social dynamics, change, race, class and everything else that might cause tension in a city? Bike lanes! “David Alpert, editor of the blog Greater Greater Washington, suggests the brouhaha was propped up by media outlets looking for a quick way to frame last year’s mayor’s race. ‘I think to some extent it became an easy shorthand for people writing about race relations and about divisions in D.C.,’ he says.”

D.C. is not special. People love to compare the District to New York City, which isn’t rushing to embrace bike lanes, either. “Look at New York, where transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has been vilified in Park Slope (where brownstones sell for nearly $2 million) and Staten Island (a stronghold of the white ethnic middle class) alike for installing lanes.”

A key reason why some residents are against bike lanes has nothing to do with race or class: They simply weren’t consulted first. A lack of outreach or communication from city government resulted in resentment: “Bike lanes in D.C. seem to come with an extra emotional charge, a legacy of the way they were installed—rapidly, and without much notice to or input from the people nearby—under Fenty and his transportation czar, Gabe Klein.”


D.C. Mapped By Stereotypes

Do you live amongst go-go, jumbo slice, commie dog walkers or in Ethiopia? Check your location against the DC Stereotype Map, produced by SocialStudiesDC, which attached stereotypes to neighborhoods in a tongue-in-cheek graphic:

Courtesy of SocialStudiesDC

D.C., by stereotypes.

Do you take issue with any of the categorizations? Let us know in the comments.

Brad Pitt Producing Film About Black Man Kidnapped in D.C. and Sold into Slavery

Brad Pitt is producing an adaption of “Twelve Years a Slave.” The memoirs were written by Solomon Northup, who as a free black man in 1841, was kidnapped and sold into slavery in D.C.

Mladen Antonov / AFP/Getty Images

Solomon Northup was kidnapped in 1840s D.C. and held in a slave pen in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol.

The book chronicles how Northup was tricked by two men in New York who said they wanted to hire him to play violin for a circus stationed in D.C. The three traveled to the District, where funeral observances for President William Harrison were taking place. According to his account, Northup was drugged and resting in the back room of a hotel when he was taken to a slave pen close to the National Mall:


It was like a farmer’s barnyard in most respects, save it was so constructed that the outside world could never see the human cattle that were herded there.

The building to which the yard was attached, was two stories high, fronting on one of the public streets of Washington. Its outside presented only the appearance of a quiet private residence. A stranger looking at it, would never have dreamed of its execrable uses. Strange as it may seem, within plain sight of this same house, looking down from its commanding height upon it, was the Capitol. The voices of patriotic representatives boasting of freedom and equality, and the rattling of the poor slave’s chains, almost commingled. A slave pen within the very shadow of the Capitol!

Northup was taken to Louisiana as a slave and wasn’t able to escape for another 12 years. A film about his journey is being welcomed by those panning the recent film “The Help” as another “Noble White Ladies Meet the Civil Rights Movement” movie, as Alyssa Rosenberg of ThinkProgress writes:

It would be so useful and powerful to tell a story… that explains that the direction from slavery to freedom wasn’t always a one-way journey, that demonstrates the reaches of the vast jaws of the market for slaves, that situates bondage not just in a vanished, Spanish moss-draped Deep South, but on Mall in Washington, DC where we inaugurated the first black president.

America’s Widening Wealth Gap: Your Take

Zeal Harris/Flickr

"Grace" Mixed Media on Wood, by Zeal Harris

Earlier today, The Diane Rehm show discussed how the widening wealth gap in America is marginalizing African American and Hispanic families:

That’s the finding of a new study by the Pew Research Center. The median wealth of whites is now 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households. And though the recession cut across all races and ethnicities, Hispanics were especially hard hit. Hispanic families accounted for the largest single decline in wealth in the last few years.

Some listeners took the time to comment on the show’s official site. Commenter
had a request:

Please include in this discussion how the role out of wedlock births and the exploding number of single parent households figure into these wealth gap figures. Single parent households, black 70%, hispanic 50%, white 30%.

The effect of government welfare subsidies that in reality destroy the work ethic of minority groups. Also the cultural disrespect of education.

This Black Voices article from 2010 corroborates those numbers for single-parent households; “Compared to the 72 percent in our communities, 17 percent of Asians, 29 percent of whites, 53 percent of Hispanics and 66 percent of Native Americans were born to unwed mothers in 2008″.
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In Your Words: New York Times Tackles D.C.’s Gentrification

Elvert Barnes / Flickr

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:

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D.C.’s ‘Gulf’ Between Rich and Poor

Jim Watson / Getty Images

Pedestrians pass by a homeless man as he rests with his belongings on K Street, NW.

How are the poor treated by the media, politicians and society?

Experts on Wednesday’s Kojo Nnamdi show discussed the state of poverty in America and popular perceptions of the poor.

In the District, nearly 1 in 5 individuals live at or below the poverty line — which is about $22,000 for a family of four. Olivia Golden, former director of D.C.’s child and family services agency, told Nnamdi there is a “gulf” between the rich and poor in the District:

One of the reasons that people don’t get distressed by the gulf as we’d think they would is they’re deeply cynical and pessimistic about public investment and public involvement. And so, even if they think,’Well, maybe it shouldn’t be this way,’… they think that anything we could do to fix it might be worse.

An interesting debate then ensued as to whether public assistance programs help the poor, or whether they contribute to the cycle of poverty. The whole segment is well worth a listen.


Why Everyone isn’t Connected in a Wired D.C.

Declan Jewell / Flickr

D.C.’s digital divide is no longer about lack of access to high-speed Internet — it’s about people not signing up, a new study finds.

An American University Investigative Reporting Workshop study, published Thursday, shows that although nearly all of D.C. is wired for high-speed Internet access, there are entire neighborhoods with extremely low adoption rates, meaning very few households are signed up for service. John Dunbar, the study’s author, says the District’s “very deep” divide “absolutely has to do with wealth.”

“If you have a low income, you just don’t subscribe,” he says. “If you look at the city, it’s an adoption divide. It’s really obvious and it’s really disturbing.”

The study breaks down broadband adoption rates by Census tract, rating connectivity on an ascending scale of 1 to 5. An interactive map (see below) details connection rates, Internet providers and income levels for each Census tract:
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