Tasty Morning Bytes – Ballou Library, National Black Museum, Yes to Walmart

Good morning, DCentric readers! Welcome back from your weekend.

Librarian at D.C.’s Ballou High scrambles for books “This library used to be a hot mess,” senior Tiesha Hines said. “No books, no computers, no tables.” Sophomore Tiffany Adams said most students were scarcely aware that there was a library at Ballou until this year. Now, she said, “we come here and get our work done.” The mission is a personal one for Jackson, who is saddened at how Ballou has declined since her student days. She grew up in Southeast, the daughter of a “pieman” who delivered fresh pies for Mrs. Smith’s. Her mother managed a dress shop. There were books in the house – her favorite as a child was Judy Blume’s “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” (The Washington Post)

The Thorny Path to a National Black Museum “Addressing a topic as fraught as race would be challenging anywhere, but it is particularly tricky within the Smithsonian, a complex of 19 museums that last year got $761 million from Congress. Efforts to tackle difficult topics often become politicized, torn between historians’ desire to treat issues with scholarly detachment and an expectation that the Smithsonian’s role is to honor the nation’s past…”This is not being built as a museum by African-Americans for African-Americans…The notion that is so important here is that African-American culture is used as a lens to understand what it means to be an American.” (The New York Times)

An Urban Teacher’s Education: Why Teachers Quit “In Detroit, everyone’s favorite not-a-real-superintendent, Robert Bobb, has kids being taught by Walmart. He’s hoping bring (sic) the same model to DC…New teacher evaluation systems in New Haven, DC, Baltimore, NYC and plenty of other places across the country will make it exceedingly difficult for anyone in an urban school to keep a job for longer than a few years. What better way to get rid of tenure than to never grant it to anyone in the first place? I, for example, might soon be required to move 85 percent of my students to grade-level proficiency despite many of them being unable to read or write a paragraph in English.” (anurbanteacherseducation.com)

A Wal-Mart here–in my Own Backyard?? “This initiative sounds like a clear winner and exactly a viable solution that could alleviate the rampant food desert that exists south of the Anacostia River. (The 2008 Farm Bill defines a food desert as an “area in the US with limited access to affordable and nutritious food.”) So yes, perhaps Wal-Mart has engaged in labor and pricing practices that you may not agree with. And yes, if you feel that way, you are welcomed to remind them of this. But we should also discuss and negotiate how Wal-Mart can narrow this great divergence in jobs, wages and “affordable nutritious food” that exists in Southeast DC…” (runindc.com)

Deli gentrification in NYC “If you want to track gentrification in New York City, look for tofu. Or basil. Or certain brands of canned tomatoes, dish detergent, and beer. In Bushwick, Crown Heights, Chinatown and many other neighborhoods across the city, delis and bodegas are being remade to suit the tastes of new residents. The coming and going of buildings and populations outside the store can be mapped on its shelves, where long-time staples are replaced by brands like Kashi, Seventh Generation, and Dancing Deer, and dozens of other brightly colored, little billboards of neighborhood change.” (openthecity.org)

A Defense of the MLK Library “For a gentrifying set of Washingtonians, the MLK Library resembled, in the words of former Architect editor Brad McKee, “a holdout of the abandonment that defined Washington’s years under its former mayor, Marion Barry.”…It wasn’t always so. For years after the library was established in 1972, it was praised in press accounts as a center for families and education…It will never be an inviting place like Shaw or Tenleytown until the city does something to serve D.C.’s homeless population downtown. The library serves as a de facto shelter…” (Washington City Paper)