Is it possible to discuss DC’s Problems without bringing up race?

Photo by PoPville flickr user BrennaLM

Over the weekend there was a lengthy discussion/debate about the huge fight that took place on metro Friday night. I knew some folks would bring up the issue of race but I was surprised to see almost the entire debate devolve into the issue of race. I think when the debate is framed in this manner it does a great disservice to DC. Rather a great disservice to understanding, identifying and fixing DC’s problems. You see, in my opinion, whenever these conversations devolve into a discussion simply of race, it misses the point. The point being: How do we fix these problems? In 2010 to blame all the serious problems the city faces solely on the race of some of its residents is absolutely ridiculous and absurd.

On Saturday, Washington Post columnist Colbert King summed it up nicely in his column about the Mayoral election:

“This is not something to cheer but to regret. Not out of sympathy for Fenty. But out of concern for a city so trapped in its past that it can’t see the problems before its face — problems that are neither black nor white.”

So when do you think DC and its residents will mature to a point that we can discuss the major problems we face for what they are – major problems? Major problems that, sadly, plague many towns and cities regardless of the race/ethnicity of their inhabitants?

177 Comment

  • Absolutely not. But this is true for all of America, not just the District. Race permeates everything in this country. I repeat, Race Permeates Everything. More than terrorism, more the economics, more than class. Instead of as American as apple pie, the aphorism should be as American as racial tension. Sad but true.

    • It’s worse here than many other cities; probably better than the same number of different cities though.

    • 1. Race as an index is too vague. The differences between blacks are too big and too many. Whites as well. Categorization by education, economic class would be more useful.

      2. Accusations of racism aimed at people writing about “feral youths” and so on are probably true, but only barely. Race is only the most obvious marker, and it’s neither a necessary nor a sufficient factor in this kind of vitriol. I assure you that if these kids were mainly white, you would hear much the same kind of language. Go to e.g. many northern towns in England. Or Vancouver, where the poor are mainly white. And then we have to call African-Americans who equally despise the behavior of certain young people at night “self-hating,” or even more uselessly, “internally oppressed.”

      3. The real accusation that could be aimed at posters here is lack of empathy and a lack of awareness of the arbitrariness of economics and class. I.e. are you so sure that some of you or your kids, if they had grown up fatherless and poor, wouldn’t be behaving in similar ways?

      • I’m too old to empathize over these kids. Been there, done that, new kids turn 18 every year and demand my empathy. I’m burnt out from helping other people’s kids. Just been asked to do too much in the last 20 years.

        The one truism about parenting is that we as a culture need a system to deal with fatherless children because that demographic is never going to go away for the next 60 years. Stop bemoaning uninvolved fathers and start planning to deal with the many kids in this situation. the fathers will NEVER come back, get real, deal with it and move on.

        I know a rich family where the kid isn’t what the Dad wanted so the Dad just works all the time, traveling from place to place. Mom is happy because Dad is bringing down well into 6 figures but kid has no role model. That will never stop.

        one thing I find interested is that the “poor” Latin families I meet in DCPS groups are 99% two parent families. I only know one Latin immigrant single mom. We will have a totally new set of issues when those kids are 18 but single parent families will not be one of them.

  • It’s possible, but you have to turn your back to the elephant in the corner.

  • This is a nation founded by slaveholders who yearned to be free. The answer is no.

    • I choose not to see things through the prism of race, nor to classify individuals that I meet.

    • Meridian PL you really hate this nation, don’t you ?

      What’s sad, disappointing and truly illuminating is how the enlightenment left wallows in failure and denial, is consumed in the torrid history of slavery, sees all of life through the prism of race, and immersed in guilt is endlessly fault finding in our nation’s noble history finding inequality and injustice in everything under the sun no matter how good life is.

      -All the while professing to be so tolerant of other people, cultures, and all manner of errant human behavior and lawlessness, yet showing their true colors, so intolerant and hateful of Christians, our Judea Christian heritage and separately the very people, from Wm Bradford and his devout Mayflower followers in 1620 to the founding of our republic in 1776 to the present day, that built and made this prosperous and freedom loving country from a vast wild frontier.

      • …that built and made this prosperous and freedom loving country from a vast wild frontier by people of all races, color, and creeds.

        • Oh please. The question was whether we can discuss the city’s problems without addressing race. We can’t discuss any problem in this country without discussing race. Acknowledging our nation’s origins and history as the reason is not about “hating Amurica”.

          • saf

            “Acknowledging our nation’s origins and history as the reason is not about “hating Amurica”.”

            Very agreed. The fact is, we have race issues in this country. We also have class issues, and generational issues, and rural/urban issues…

            But the race issue runs deep in our history, and has not yet been fully dealt with. And so it is part of the problems we face as a nation as well as as a city, a neighborhood, any sort of community.

      • Truth hurt much? Colonialism and manifest destiny hurt more.

        Would you like your smallpox blanket back? I’ll trade it to you for our land back.

        • Smallpox blankets – never happened. Lots of other bad shit did, so it is important to get it right and not perpetuate myths.

      • Don’t think I know Judea Christian. Is she releated to Judea Peoples Liberation Front? Or the People’s Liberation Front of Judea?

      • you live in a dreamworld of wizards and unicorns, nothing you wrote holds a place in reality. you need to talk to a therapist regarding your conspiracy theories.

      • Quote from Wm. Bradford’s diary, Sept. 1621:

        “And so the God-given bountye of these hilles and fields does yet sustaine us, chiefest by our efforts at thryft and deprivation, and we look to the day when our colonie can do aught more than sustain our numbers as the flyes and other pests desend on us. At the minimum, our heartes are cheered by the thought that Our Lord has granted us a gated communitie.”

        • So true. Half of the Pilgrims would die from malnutrition and disease.

          Read on in \Of Plymouth Plantation\ (1620-47).

          It was not until Govenor Wm Bradford dropped the collectivist farm construct and finally divided out parcels of individual private property farms planting corn and potatoes and raising turkeys that harvests flourished and fully abound making for the first Thanksgiving with Pilgrims and Indians alike.

          Nearly 400 years later, we can’t seem to learn from our own history: how collectivist central planning always starves and fails and private property free enterprise works, feeds, and creates our prosperity

  • i wasn’t at the event on friday night so i don’t know who the teenagers were. but why are politically correct people so afraid of talking about race?

    if all the teenagers were african american, if a huge percentage of crime is committed by african americans then i don’t think excluding race makes any sense. if there is a racial divide in behavior then a solution will have to address this. it makes no sense to ignore the facts (if those are the facts, which from what i can tell are pretty much the facts). now how the solutions look like, i don’t know. but i think the problem in DC is not with young white Georgetown teenagers.

    DC obviously has major social problems. there are things where the city can probably do more, there are things where the community probably needs to do more. But at the same time those communities that cause most of the problems can’t hide behind age old problems, but have to take responsibility for their actions and their situations.

    • technically if a huge percentage of crime is committed by white people and not minorities then similarly we shouldn’t excuse race – ala anger toward illegal immigrants in Prince William County.

  • No, but it’s mostly because of the demographics of DC

    There really are no poor white people in DC, the Washington City Paper even had an article about this.

    Other cities, such as Pittsburgh or Baltimore do have poor white people, so the argument doesn’t work for these cities.

    I’ve seen white kids in Baltimore that scared the hell out of me, yet to see that in DC.

    • yes, sure, it is not always african americans that cause the problems. i don’t think i said that.

      i said that not looking at race doesn’t make sense … since a lot of the problems are part of racial groups. now i don’t know if in america the word race is reserved for african americans but last time i checked, race can mean all kinds of different races … it is a way to distinguish between different groups … so rather than saying “a group of teenagers this this” one can be more specific and say “a group of white teenagers did this”.

      are there overlaps in solutions on how to deal with poor white inner city trouble makers and african american ones? sure, i guess there are but i bet that just based on history there are probably some that that don’t overlap and by not taking race into account those would be ignored.

    • I wholeheartedly agree. IMO the discussion is really one of class – not race.

      • saying its about class, not race, is a cop-out and just a way to use politically correct language but still say what you want. weak.

        • And importantly of age. The District’s under 18 population is I’m sure much more black than the overall population percentage.

  • I do.

    And I’ve been here in Washington, DC fifty plus years.

    I respect individuals for who and what they are.

    I don’t categorize or put individuals in groups like far too many do today.

    More times than not, the solution is in the mirror, not in the telescope, the microscope, or the rear view mirror.

  • Is it racism or classism? Most of the disparities in the city are actually about social class.

      • It’s not an “ism” at all, it is just a reality that black ghetto culture is completely out of step with mainstream American polite society. In the abstract, liberal whites want to buy in to the whole idea that diversity is a wonderful thing that should be celebrated, but in truth, much of the culture of the black subclass is offensive to most European Americans, including the ones who post here. Loud vulgar ebonics, thug behavior, confrontation and violence, shuck ‘n jive playas, da money, da bling, da blunt, you get the picture. Let’s be real, until it changes from within, that part of America is going to continue to be on the fringe, looked at with contempt, opportunities cut off.

        • +a million

        • kind of watch how you write that, but this is the real deal.

          I moved into DC after having many black friends who went to Wilson and then friends in college who went on to graduate school at Howard. My parents’ neighborhood got integrated and the doctors and lawyers and entrepreneurs were totally normal to me. How could racism exist?

          Then I move to DC and find out that for every doctor, lawyer and Volvo-driving brother in my parents’ neighborhood there are absolute filthy scum criminals in DC except when I point out the HUGE problems with these crimes and criminals I got called a \newcomer\ yuppie and even a racist.

          I knew dozens of black kids growing up and in college and maybe only one of them, someone’s cousin, acted at all low class. I move to DC and only 5-6 retirees act high class and everyone else is a low-class criminal or someone who enables criminals. I was stunned. I hated the criminals, hated their activities, their clothes, the way they listened to music, how they stood on the sidewalk to drink, how they barbecued on their front lawns instead of their back, etc. but most of all I hated the cocaine.

          pure hate.

          I don’t like what I’ve become and am still not sure how much of it is racist when my African-American friends on the block make the same complaints about \the younger generation.\

        • I kind of agree with you…but there are parallel’s in the white community who get a pass for their crude behaviors. I hate to use reality television as a form of evidence, but take a look at Jersey Shore, The Real Housewives series, etc. There are plenty of white people who are loud, vulgar and down right trashy (white trash as they are often classified as). However, they tend to be excused a bit more. Especially by the “mainstream American polite society” who might have some of those folks tucked away in their family trees down in Florida, up in Jersey or over in Cali…as much as they may want to ignore/forget them.

          A challenge I see around your argument continues to be that as a black individual/group, you need to exhibit behaviors and skills exceeding white society to “fit in”—and that shouldn’t be the case. That’s my opinion coming from a white man who isn’t all that liberal and from a “proper” WASP family up north.

          • We may excuse Snookie for being a mild embarrassment, but we don’t excuse white people in the trailer parks.

    • They are not mutually exclusive. They overlap and are intertwined. The degree varies depending on the situation.

  • Lack of education breeds racism and DC is ignorant as f*ck. 1/3rd of adults here are functionally illiterate. Only 50% of our high school students graduate in 4 years if at all. We have an infant mortality rate over twice the national average. HIV rates higher than many West African nations – and have climbed over 20% in just the last 3 years. Combine with with a number of white transplants from mostly white suburbs & rural America and you get what you see here. Add to that local black & white politicians who will use all of these factors to their benefit and you get institutionalized racism that no one has any drive to fight. It works for them. People get jobs, money and power from it. There’s no real benefit [in the joke that is local DC politics] to fight racism. It feeds the ‘game’.

  • Until I read this post, I hadn’t actually thought about what race the teenagers involved might be.

    • Me either. When I read the other post I wanted to ask why everyone was assuming all the kids involved were black.

      We MUST address this issue by transcending the racial question and saying all teenagers (and citizens) should act in a way that does not endanger others. Why is it wrong to want to reduce the formation of wandering gangs, and subsequent fighting among teens, whether they are in Chinatown, DC or in a mall in the burbs, regardless of race? Bring on curfews and incentives (punitive or otherwise) to keep this from happening.

  • To be honest, I think there’s a lot of ‘latte racism’ posted by many who frequent this blog. I’ve noticed that when a neighborhood issue is raised about Mt Pleasant or Columbia Heights, some hysterically paranoid comments are posted about the safety of the areas and the residents of those neighborhoods. There seems to be a real fear of ethnic neighborhoods that comes through with some of the readers of this blog and I have yet to understand it. It doesn’t get to the heart of your question but it’s my humble observation on racial attitudes in DC.

    • I’ve noticed it too…They’ll use words like sketchy.

      • A group of 6 people drinking on a street corner is sketchy.

      • I think you have to acknowledge that the crime problems are very real and not just the paranoia of racists. When you spend 10 years reading the police report list servs its hard not to recognize the sketchiness of a lot of the city (at least, east of the park).

        • To Eric in Ledroit:
          Understood re: crime problems but when you’ve spent 8 years walking around comfortably and without incident in an area the comments about the safety (or lack of safety) of these areas can start to seem pretty hysterical and paranoid.

    • “Ethnic?” So white people are not ethnic? You might call me ethnic, (and a community of people like me an ethnic neighborhood). I actually have been called ethnic by white people, and it totally weirds me out. So does ethnic means non-white in this case?

      • White privilege is what has led to the assumption that white is “neutral” or “ideal”.

        If Critical Race Theory and a review of economic systems other then capitalism were taught in economics, half of the world’s problems would disappear in one generation.

        • It sounds really strange that if we just did X, all of the world’s problems would disappear in a generation.

          Sounds like BS.

        • But how many new ones would we have?

          I wish everyone just knew as much as you, because if everyone were just as smart as you, everything would be so much better.

          • How is saying that a neighborhood is sketchy racist? It is if the reason you think it is sketchy is because of someone’s race, but if it is sketchy because there are any number of hold-ups, robberies, shootings, etc. in a given week, then it is just that sketchy – doesn’t matter who is doing the activity.

        • I think everyone would do well to become versed in CRT. But this is the silliest comment ever.

      • Re: use of the word ‘ethnic’.
        Happy to clarify. No, my use of the word ethnic didn’t have to do with non-whites. I was using the word to refer to a culturally specific presence in any area. In my estimation, the cultural presence is established by the restaurants, language, music and street festivals of any neighborhood. Little Italy in NY is an ethnic neighborhood just as Chinatown in SF is.

    • I live in the city and have found that newcomers most often want to pooh-pooh real criminals and criminal behavior as “racism” from “people from the suburbs.” I moved into and bought my house thinking that I was cool and down with the guys who hung out on the corner and talked to me. They were nice guys.

      they were later convicted of selling crack cocaine and one of the guys around age 22, to the best of my knowledge, got a girl under 16 years of age pregnant, committing statutory RAPE.

      They WERE sketchy. I was WRONG to think the people who told me they were sketchy were “hysterically paranoid.”

      I am 75% sure that you are wrong as well, but can’t speak for your experience.

  • Race is a real factor in D.C. life so it should be part of the discussion.

    However, people should think of its relative importance to what they’re discussing, and try to keep it at that level. For example, the Friday night fight everybody talked about might have had just a little to do with race, and a lot more to do with reckless teenagers and law enforcement, etc.

    In internet commenting there is a tendency toward provocative statements and harsh condemnation. Both go poorly with discussions of race. I would love it if we could talk about important and difficult things without immediately having something ugly develop. But that is hard to do and it takes a bit of effort from everyone.

    So, let’s talk about race where appropriate. But please, don’t offer or take the bait and allow these important conversations to get ugly and pointless.

  • Race is a real factor in D.C. life so it should be part of the discussion.

    However, people should think of its relative importance to what they’re discussing, and try to keep it at that level. For example, the Friday night fight everybody talked about might have had just a little to do with race, and a lot more to do with reckless teenagers and law enforcement, etc.

    In internet commenting there is a tendency toward provocative statements and harsh condemnation. Both go poorly with discussions of race. I would love it if we could talk about important and difficult things without immediately having something ugly develop. But that is hard to do and it takes a bit of effort from everyone.

    So, let’s talk about race where appropriate. But please, don’t offer or take the bait and allow these important conversations to get ugly and pointless.

  • Can we forget race? Not if the definition is expanded to include racial culture as well. Whether people like it or not, DC’s white culture and urban African-American culture are separate and antagonistic. You can see this on display at any public meeting, or on the street corner. I don’t see that situation being resolved any time soon – it’s just part of the fabric of living here.

  • It’s easy to cry “racism!”, too easy sometimes. Categorizing a person as racist means that I can wholly dismiss what they’re saying without having to think critically. It’s not productive.

    Sometimes there are racist comments on this board but sometimes I don’t think people know what the word means, the way they throw it around.

  • No, its not. Because race is in issue. Blacks in DC are the crime problem. Blacks in DC are the source of 99% of all quality of life issues and until we admit that the problem and cause will neverbe corrected.

  • I love you PoP, but this post is naive, especially coming from someone as in-touch as you are. Race is a huge issue in my neighborhood, and a majority of its problems arise as a result of a broken black urban culture in desperate need of repair from within.

  • No, you can’t. Issues of economic justice, poverty, education, housing AND crime are indeed all about race.

    That said, crime and violence in DC seems to be committed about 70% of the time by African Americans, 30% hispanic.

    Outside of the university areas, how often are crimes committed by whites do you hear of? Other then genocide, ethnic cleansing and colonialism anyway…

  • Can we discuss race and have the conversation not be racist?

    Simply pointing out race issues doesn’t necessarily make a poster racist. Or does it?

    I have to admit… more than once I’ve seen commenters say something like, “I can’t believe the racism in this thread” and I look back and have absolutely no idea what they’re referring to. It’s an easy card to play but we need to be able to discuss race or point out something factual about a person (i.e. their race) without being labeled racist off the cuff.

    Otherwise the discussion is cut off at the knees before it even starts.

    • ha, yes, that’s a great line!

      One time I was at a party and we were talking about the differences between the European zodiac and the Chinese zodiac and someone accused us of anti-Asian racism and I mean, really angrily, leveling an accusation and I asked, \What did I say that was racist?\ and they just said, \HA! If you don’t know then you’re really racist!\

      for the record the Chinese and European zodiacs are very different.

  • So, to try to provide a short direct answer to the question, I have to sadly agree with the “no” crowd – it’s going to get pulled in. I prefer to read your question as a rhetorical plea for people not to immediately turn to “race” as the issue.

    The problem is that race, like religion and language in so many parts of the world, is a convenient proxy symbol for much more complex issues. This is hardly limited to race in America (think of the “Red” vs. “Blue” divide and Sarah Palin’s “Real Virginia”), or even to places with a history of slavery (per-se). What it does typically align with, everywhere you find this kind of symbolism, is economic oppression of some form. Think of Ireland where religious and later language symbols were used; the Belgians have long had a low grade civilly-conducted civil war between two language groups.

    “Race” is a terrible word – I’d prefer ethnicity any day – and this is the other reason that we use it as a proxy: it does encompass some “cultural” values and that touches on some of the real issues at hand here. There are some contributing factors that come out of the “culture” of some “ethnic” groups. These are hardly limited to certain skin colors – out there in “real Virginia” there’s some very ivory “culture” that has the exact same set of problems – to wit, tolerance for: domestic violence, abuse (sexual, substance and otherwise), and teen pregnancy (the leading cause of poverty). Somebody said “trash is trash”, and yeah, it’s true, though I don’t like labeling people as trash.

    The problem is this: institutionalized racism is still well within living memory for a significant portion of the population. Sure, those kids have never really experienced it in any meaningful way (and a look at DCPS per-pupil spending puts the lie to the complaint that the public abandons those students), but they are the progeny of people who did; people who are ready to jump to quickly in response to critiques that sound remarkably similar the pretexts racists used to engage in institutional racism. Sentencing and prosecutorial disparities in the criminal justice system sure give the appearance that institutionalized racism is alive and well.

    Of course, these are all complicated to tease apart, hard issues to solve, and above all: uncomfortable issues for everyone to look at while maintaining their self-righteousness. Whites who advocate lots of tough love and unpleasant medicine have to confront that their kids (see Mr. Lacrosse Star) get lots of second chances at life, even in the presence of what were lots of hints of sociopathy, and likely the result horrifically bad parenting failures (not unlike the broken “hood” crowd). Brown Americans have to accept that not all critiques are an attempt to re-enslave every young man who is a mis-behaving “buck” (even if that’s a real racist Archetype/Trope).

  • No.

    Someone will ALWAYS bring it up and once it’s out there all bets are off.

    • Someone will ALWAYS bring it up and once it’s out there all bets are off.

      This – it’s impossible to avoid, and even more difficult to prevent a total derail once it’s brought up. Race (or more specifically, racism and its legacy) are obviously at the root of many of the problems DC faces – but it also prevents us from having any kind of dispassionate, rational, constructive discussion about how to deal with them, for the most part.

      DC feels like a somewhat less socially segregated city now that it did when I was kid in the 70s and 80s, but the dialog over race is still every bit as overheated, self-congratulatory, and poisonous.

    • especially on the internet! where EVERYTHING is 10x more ferocious.

  • Isn’t the issue that we try an avoid discussing the obvious? It is obvious that race is a component. It is obvious that the culture in the black community is corrupted. We can bury our head in the sand and say it is poverty. But that is an insult to the millions of poor people in this country that don’t act the way young black women and increasingly young black women act.

    I grew up poor. I am black. I can acknowledge that there is a large contingent of black people that I refuse to live around. I wouldn’t want my kids associating with them. My 60 y/o mother is afraid of them. A young black girl called her a ‘Bitch’ on the train. That level of disrespect to the elderly just isn’t pervasive in other communities. If we really wanted to get to the bottom of this, we have to be honest. That goes for excuse-making blacks and liberal whites.

    • Right on brother, it’s not so much about race as it is civility. We have a civility crisis with our young people, listen to the music they worship and the troubling behaviors they aspire to perfect everyday. So how does one “properly socialize” a new generation of historically disadvantaged people who live east of the river that seem immersed in a world of semi-sanctioned poor behavior?

      Is it race, or is it a community that sanctions and tolerates such horrible behavior?

    • In Ayn Rand’s world you would be excluded from every club that wanted you to exclude you.

    • Isn’t the issue that we try an avoid discussing the obvious? It is obvious that race is a component. It is obvious that the culture in the black community is corrupted.

      This is one of the more intelligent comments.

      Frightened subway riders don’t see subculture, they see skin color, even if they work with and respect people of the same skin color.

      The Civil War ended almost a century and half ago, but subculture can be inherited and passed down like genetics.

      Objective things can be done about poverty. You can make opportunities available.

      However, does anyone know how to change a subculture, particularly within the constraints of a democratic republic?

      • You could change the subculture. It is HARD though. Too many men in jail to get fair dealing from the ones not locked up. As such, black men not imprisoned do not have to strive hard. In reality, ablack man with 12 kids should be undesirable. In reality, he may be just as desired as a black man with a PhD. Undeserving black men get as many women as the deserving. That doesn’t take into account that many black women prefer the thuggish black men.

        That is just part of the problem. If I went any further PoP might delete the post.

  • Given that the vast majority of the police alerts state “Look out for a B/M…”, how can we exclude race from discussions? Given that the overwhelming majority of families that are displaced due to gentrification are black families; that the worst, crime-riddled neighborhoods are predominantly black; that gang violence involves primarily black or latino gangs; that white people cluster in the most affluent areas. How can you exclude race? And yet I agree that this is not strictly a DC issue, but a common issue across all US urban environments. Economic and social investment in urban areas is still focused primarily on providing safe, attractive, cozy environments for white people. To ignore the racial prejudices of the system of investment in this country would be to put your head in the sand.

    • Pleaase qualify this statement? What specifically is being done to insure the focus is on providing white people with safe, attractive, cozy environments. Your statement represents the real problem, which is blacks refuse to take responsibility and instead deflect the problems to being caused by whites.

      More of my tax dollars go to providing african-americans in this city EBT cards, housing, parenting classes, night school, inner city programs for kids then I can keep track of. You should be thankful for the opportunities white money and hard work has brought to this city. Black and white need to acknowledge each others good contributions to the city, but they also have to acknowledge what is wrong instead of placing blame on others who have not control over what is happening to segments of the community

    • That’s not entirely true in DC over the past 30 years. The vast majority of city-lead investment has not been in the NW wards (Marion Barry’s Robin Hood Economy did not permit much NE investment), but it’s been squandered (either by skimming by politically connected contractors, or neglect by the same government) which is why you can’t really find it today.

    • White people don’t cluster in the affluent neighborhoods.

      In Ward 1 the white people brought the affluence with them into what, before Target, was a crummy neighborhood.

      figure that weird sh*t out.

  • I absolutely agree

  • As long as idiots believe the term “feral” is racist, then no – we cant have a serious discussion nor one that isnt filled with race and race baiting.

  • JohnGalt – Yesterday afternoon I was spat at while walking up the stairs on the back side of Gallery Place by a 6YO girl. I knew in my mind that she was getting ready to do something as I walked up the stairs with the way she was acting. She was sitting at one of the outside tables with what I’m assuming was the rest of her family. The other kids just laughed and her parents completely ignored it. I went balastic on the girl and her parents for being so rude and disgusting. The parents were yelling at me for yelling at a child. WTF? I ripped both the girl and parents a new one and pretty much made a spectacle out of them in front the crowd. They pretty much shut down with the girl crying and with them leaving…lesson learned. I hope I scared the living crap out of the girl and she can’t even think about spitting on anyone again without seeing my face.

    I love DC and I take action when I see something wrong. Do I believe that there is a major multi-generational and cultural issue here with inner city? Damn right I do. If more people would stand up and take action with these kids, things will change. The absence of parenting here in DC is appalling.

    • Chris,
      You run a risk of getting assaulted atacking the children of these women. They love their children in a perverse fashion. Instead of admonishing them for bad behavior (true love), they will often lash out at someone for chastising them for bad behavior. Chris, I don’t know if you are black or not. But I will say that most blacks I know, know better than to criticize the kids of some of these young mothers. For one thing, a responsible parent would have been on her child LONG before you would have even had a chance to say anything. I don’t believe in beating children. But had i done what you described, my mom would have been beating me right there on the spot. Times have changed. And so have the mentality of the black people having children.

      I’ll never forget I was at a BBQ recently. I was the ONLY black male there. 6 black women in mid 30’s. All IVY educated or highly successful in their careers. Not one child between them. I point that out to say that the face of black America is fast becoming one defined by the underclass.

      Just look around your neighborhoods. My mom and I were sitting on the porch Sunday. There are so few black men under the age of 40 that are working in my block. I count only 2 African Americans. Only one (me) is the head of the household. No community can thrive with such paltry numbers.

      • You run a risk of getting assaulted atacking the children of these women. They love their children in a perverse fashion. Instead of admonishing them for bad behavior (true love), they will often lash out at someone for chastising them for bad behavior.

        I pointed this out in another thread about the DCPS and was promptly labeled a “liar” – or rather, having identified myself as a former teacher, and having defended a teacher’s view on the DCPS another poster responded that “teachers lie” and that the problems of the DCPS are all the fault of teachers.

        My point was that it takes parents as well as teachers – and in particular, parents who back up and support teachers, specifically with discipline (both appropriate behavior and doing homework, etc.) – that much of the problem with the public schools begins at home – long before kids wind up in schools. As I pointed out: teachers aren’t getting combat pay.

    • I think you nailed it there. A lot of this behavior has to do with bad parenting. If the parents don’t give a damn, the children sure as hell wont.

      Growing up in a very poor and broken minority (hispanic) family, my mother led by example and always kept her head up and showed us pride. We never blamed anyone, or society for our ills. We all just worked hard to get where we are. It was quite frustrating seeing my mother fight a language barrier and work hard to graduate and get her college degree while working two jobs and still being a good mother. But she got it done and all her children are doing just fine. My siblings and I were perfect candidates to become crime statistics, but our mother didn’t let us. She gave a damn.

    • ok, so, when I grew up in the 1980s all the black teens I knew were working like hell to take college classes to fulfill MLK’s dream as told to them daily by Jesse Jackson.

      No way was it more friendly to African-Americans in the 70s-80s but when I was in college all my black friends were in college (ok, because we were in college.)

      In 2010 I find out that in my grandmother’s rural white farm town all the guys are back from Iraq sitting around complaining that someone needs to reopen the factory while their wives (in one case my cousin-in-law’s sister) work at Wal Mart, as bank tellers and dental hygienists.

      The guys don’t work at all.

      Ditto with my block where the girls seem to have grown up and moved but the guys, now age 25-30, seem to live in grandma’s basement.

      why? In the worst family the father lived there until well after the kids were in their 20s-30s, it’s not like they were in a single-parent household. Obama is in the white house, the most absolute crystal clear example that IT IS POSSIBLE but it seems like the girls in my son’s school are the ones who want to be like Michelle while the boys below age 8 are sweet and nice kids but after age 9-10 watch wrestling and fight.

      I grew up wealthy in a f’d up house where my father was a screw up and I had to rely on other fathers for inspiration and to replicate their behavior.

  • I think the answer is “probably not” and DC’s not unique in that way. Race is one of the great unresolved issues in the U.S. It’s just a variation of xenophobia and we’ve been grappling with it since the get-go and probably will for some time to come. We’re better off than much of the rest of the world but that’s still not great.

    I’m aware of race all the time. It is a defining element of our lives in America. For many of us it dictates where we live, how we talk, how much money we make, our social status, etc. Deviants from the norm stick out and, I can only imagine, carry a heavy burden.
    (btw, I’m the typical cracker in this town – educated, from upper NW, professional, steady income, yuppie)

    Talk about race. It’s obvious. It’s bigger than you and me. It’s bigger than this city. If there’s a racial element, then just acknowledge it.

    For this latest thing, what can one say? Kids getting wild, doing inappropriate, dangerous things. Happens everywhere.

  • If you want to discuss major problems, you first have to define the problem and its causes whether it is brawls, poverty, crime, etc. Many of the major problems in D.C. can be traceable to racial/socioeconomic issues (which are often interrelated), resulting in what seems an unending debate. It’s not simply a discussion on race or who’s black and who’s white, it’s more complex than that. The Post writer is erred in his writing.

  • I don’t see DC politics and political discussion as revolving around race or ethnicity, though I do think race or ethnicity gets brought into Internet discussions unnecessarily when issues are not at their core racial/ethnic. This may be because fixation on ‘the Black and White’ in issues is not going to go away in a few decades considering the duration and extent of racial inequality in US history.

    While Chris mentions the low numbers of low-income White residents in DC, I think our significant population of Black residents who are in the upper-income ranges helps to foster the relatively positive relations between the races.

  • The absence of parenting in the US is appalling…not just here in DC. I too have had to correct or point out something to a child and parent but the thing is that I have had to do it to a rude white child, black child, and hispanic child. Parent’s all around just feel that their precious bundle of joy should be able to do whatever, and that goes across race.

  • Every day for the last 400 years.

  • I agree that race will inevitably be brought up in a conversation about crime in DC. However, to answer the question directly, it doesn’t have to be. Like a number of the other people pointed out, wherever you find groups of poor, disenfranchised groups in this country you find high rates of crime and violence. Depending on the city in the this country, that group in desperate need of opportunity, education and understanding can be white, latino, asian, or black. We can ALL think of a city in this country with problems of crime and violence where the “group responsible” is not predominately black. To look at DC alone and decide that “the black kids” are the problem is a natural fallacy. As another person already pointed out, there ARE NO OTHER poor, disadvantaged groups in DC other than the black community.

  • cookietime420 – I am not a parent, but I do know that looking down on a parent because their child is screaming is unfair. Kids cry. I mean, if the parent is beating on the child, judge away, but if the kid just won’t stop crying, it may be because children cry. You did it, and it probably annoyed people, so just think be mindful of that.

    And on another note more related this this post, it is impossible to talk about DC without talking about race. I mean, just look at some of the neighborhoods that were traditionally \non-white\, like Columbia Heights or NE by H st: Yuppie central. There is a great podcast hosted by Chicago Public Radio called, \This American Life\ that does a report about this very issue. The hosts discuss how many people who have inhabited these older neighborhoods for generations are now facing school closures and building closures, all due to real estate tycoons snatching up the properties to make condos. They interview long-time residents, who share that they believe it is a conspiracy: whites taking over black neighborhoods to build multi-million dollar condos, thus displacing the former residents. I know this has happened in Chicago, where I am from (peace out Cabrini Green), and I’m sure that is happening here.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • Schools arent closing because developers are buying the schools. Schools are closing because the City decides they need to close. Often times these closed schools sit vacant for years with no buyers at all…

      What are you talking about?

      • The show discussed how the local governments were closing schools, even schools that were not failing, and then selling the city property to developers. I’ll try to find the link.

        • If thats happening somewhere else then ok, but its not happening here… schools get closed and sit vacant for a LONG time. Some get redeveloped – but it takes a while.

    • saf

      Neighborhood populations are cyclic. When you say “traditionally non-white,” think hard. That is not necessarily true, depending on what era you are looking at.

    • Are you actually lamenting the loss of Cabrini Green?

  • Is it possible to discuss DC’s Problems without bringing up race?

    Possible, yes.

    Likely, no.

  • Race is convenient scapegoat for everyone involved. Those involved in the melee can claim a disadvantaged life led them to this place. Those of us on the outside can conveniently go “tsk tsk” and blame it on race, upbringing, or the weather — all things that can’t be undone or controlled at this point. And our illustrious leadership in this city can, as always, do nothing and claim victory.

    Nothing then has to change because nothing can be done. Everyone feels satisfied in their riotousness and the city continues to circle the toilet drain.

    It’s been a long time since I bothered to post anything here. And some might remember that I did my level best about two years ago to have Phil Mendelsohn and his cronies finally do something about the (continued) rampant gun crime in this city. As Nate suggested at the time, my attempts to get Phil to do anything other than pander were a wasted effort.

    It’s no surprise then to find on the front page of the Post that Phil (and his fellow criminal-coddler the Grahamstander) offering there patented zero solution. Pablum and bull excrement. Deceit and the smug confidence of politicians that need to go.

    The fact that Phil is the chairmunchkin of the “Public Safety Committee” passes irony and enters into absurdity. He is a menace to us all that makes a crowd of seventy rioting teens look like picnic.

    Who is Phil, other than the man primarily responsible for public safety, to judge these wayward youths? Who is Phil to allow common sense repeat offender punishment? Reasonable youth corrections? Everything seems fine to Phil(from Upper, Upper NW)– and after all, if you are taking public transport, which Phil would never deign do, what do you expect?

    It is long past time for Phil and the Grahamstander to get real jobs and clear the way for some common sense reforms in city government.

    You can talk, talk, talk about race, about how there are too many single moms, about how we need to have yet another “program” for youth since the Summer “Job” Extortion Program doesn’t keep them in line. Keep on talkin’.

    I’m voting for a change at the top.

    Until all people in the city recognize some basic truths about social behavior, from the TOP down, there will be no changes.

    Vote for Clark Ray and Jeff Smith. They may not turn out to be any better than those they replace — but they cannot, under any circumstances, be worse than the hand-sitting, self-serving buffoons in office now.


    This is from Chicago Public Radio’s \This American Life\:

    American cities have gone through a massive wave of gentrification in the last few decades. To some people, it’s not a natural ebb and flow of the real estate market, but a plot, by rich, mainly white people, to take over the neighborhoods of poor, mainly black people. This American Life producer Jon Jeter reports on how, in neighborhoods all over the country, the plot has a name, \The Plan,\ and most people you talk to know about it. (11 minutes)

  • Hmmm. Here is a report from a mostly white city in the UK. Take Glasgow and substitute Washington, DC.

    I think Race is a factor, but not racism. Race is a factor that past discrimination and government policies has created a permanent underclass that happens to be black. This underclass sinks further and further with each successive generation that is uneducated, without nuclear family structure and any sense of behavioral restraint one must have to function is society as a whole.

    Until a generation of this underclass graduates from high school with 12th grade reading, math and science levels, with minimal teenage pregnancies, and semi functional home lives, this cycle is going to propagate to each successive generation.

  • I think a better question to ask is, is it possible to talk about these events without a bunch of jerks saying “oh it’s a city, it just happens.” No, it doesn’t just happen–there are plenty of cities all over the world, much larger and much more cosmopolitan than DC that manage to get through the day without teen riots and rampant street crime.

  • I think it is very possible to discuss DC’s problems without directly focusing on race. I personally think that the main problem with DC is it’s lack of support for disenfranchised youth (most of which seem to be black). If DC has better public schools, which I feel like they are on their way towards achieving, and more productive ways for children to direct their energy the city would be a much better place to live.

    • Define better public schools. What constitutes a good school? Can any school be good with a contingent of kids like the ones fighting at Chinatown?

  • Wow. Just wow.

    I’m glad that such incidents always turn the conversation to race. The vile nature of the comments wakes me from a slumber and serves as a reminder of what I am up against as a black professional man.

    Because I know behind the most vitriolic “anonymous” comments are the white co-workers, neighbors, politicians, bosses, vendors, service providers, cops and others I encounter in my everyday life.

    I’m more fearful of the deranged sickness that is white supremacy than I am of 1,000 powerless black teenagers going off in a metro station. They can be rounded up, cordoned off and isolated for life with a few phone calls… a few legal actions… a few laws getting passed. But among those that want to paint “black ghetto culture” as all of black culture—and among those that see the issues of Black pathology as ones that must be addressed along racial lines are likely whites who still have the power to regulate lives and discriminate in our society. It’s a reminder to me that the fight on all fronts continue, that we can’t rest on the symbolic gains our society has achieved.

    • oh grow up. sheesh.

    • Or step up-what this city needs is professional people like you willing to volunteer your time to mentor the pwerless and guide them to a position of power, that being success. Maybe that will alleviate some of this guilt your feeling for being successful.

  • The vile nature of the comments wakes me from a slumber and serves as a reminder of what I am up against as a black professional man.

    Because I know behind the most vitriolic “anonymous” comments are the white co-workers, neighbors, politicians, bosses, vendors, service providers, cops and others I encounter in my everyday life.
    Stop blaming others. Why do you think they feel this way? When they see black men walking with their pants down the A$$. When they see black neighborhoods strewn with litter. When they read killing after brawl after baby mama after baby mama. What conclusion would a reasonable person have? If you are black, I am sure you have heard it from your other, dad, or your friends.

    These young blacks (and some of the old) are making a bad name for all of us. And unlike the Civil Rights movement where whites and others came to our aid, this is our fight. You don’t like how other people see us? Your anger is displaced. Be mad at the people perpetuating these stereotypes.

    • I am not “blaming” anybody here. In many respects, I see this whole incident as not that big a deal, just a street fight that escalated and on the municipal level, the focus should be on public safety and policing options for containing such in the future.

      I don’t give a crap how white people see “us” and I don’t give a crap what white people think of some kid showing off his underwear anymore than white people should care about my visceral response to some smelly, tattoed, stringy-haired white punk kid with piercings all over his body (which– for the record—I think is gross).

      I don’t need the white man’s validation or acceptance—I have my own values and moral codes thank-you very much, and they’ve served me well as guiding posts in my personal life. But, I do see the residual effects of how these attitudes, which are shockingly vitriolic at times, carry over into public policy and every day life when they are harbored by white people who do have power, money and influence in our society. “We” have to fight that as much as address Black societal issues as it it’s our responsibiilty alone.

      • I see this whole incident as not that big a deal, just a street fight that escalated and on the municipal level, the focus should be on public safety and policing options for containing such in the future.
        And this is where black people and the rest of civil society diverge. What reasonable person can say this incident on metro is not a big deal? It strain credibility to downplay this. Someone’s shin was broken /people were hurt or terrified for no good reason.

  • My father’s white family came to this country in 1918. My mother’s white family came to this country in 1901. Why am I judged on my skin color?

    • why not? They lived through the era of lynchings and post-war housing discrimination.

      My father bought a house in MoCo. He knew this guy who bought a house for almost the same money in Capitol Heights.

      50 years later, what’s more valuable, segregated MoCo or integrated PG County?

      If your parents came here after the 1968 riots I might buy your argument, but you seem rabidly ignorant of 20th century history.

      • Why should someone’s ancestors living through a certain era (pre-columbian, revolutionary war, civil war, jim crow, or any other) have any bearing on how they are judged? That’s anti-american in my book.

        People should be judged on their character or lack thereof, not on their ancestry, appearance or class.

      • They didn’t come to DC, they came to NYC, Jamaica Heights to be exact. Save the “ignorant” comments for your hatred of other whites. Assuming where who they were/are, as well as who I am, is racial profiling. I am a person, not a skin color.

  • I think it is impossible to talk about many social issues this city faces without owning up to race being an issue. I personally live in what is still a predominantly black neighborhood, and when I walk around by myself, waiting for buses to come, I get black people asking me what I’m doing in \their\ part of town. I was chatting with a woman who was in Brookland and she said she had to catch the Greyhound so I asked her what she was doing there and another man started going on and on about How dare I, a white girl, be asking a black woman what she’s doing in that neighborhood, that it was HER neighborhood and I had no right to be there. I’ve also had encounters on buses with my boyfriend of people yelling at us and telling us we don’t belong there because we’re white.

    So the question I ask, is why is it wrong for someone to remark on the black youths of this city, but no one calls it racism when it is reversed?

    Race, social class, education level–they are inextricably intertwined, particularly in this city. So why is it okay to discuss it as a social class issue, or an education issue, or a poverty issue, but not refer to the race of the perpetrator of crimes?

    Maybe if people were a little less afraid of being politically incorrect and sticking their foot in their mouth, we could actually face our problems head on rather than beating around the bush.

  • Glad to see you post this, since I was just writing you a long email about it.

    For starters, you should own your part. While your crime postings are good on their own, the comments ALWAYS turn racist. Studies of news reporting show that inclusion of race increases racial stereotypes and desire for punitive action by readers (see

    Seriously, why don’t you not post the racist comments? They are never educational, and they inflame racist attitudes.

    Second, why don’t you cover the positive things that organizations in Petworth are doing with youth and the homeless? Green Door ( and others are your neighbors too. There’s more to being a kid or being homeless in DC than being a criminal. It would be nice if you provided a more complete picture of your neighborhood, which might help educate some of your less-informed readers.

    • So you want to hide racism with censorship?

      That’s not going to solve the problem at hand. Although I don’t always agree with commenters on this site (and especially sites like WaPo and CNN), they should not be censored.

      • Responsible reporting is not censorship, it’s a reflection that what people read has an impact on what they think and do.

        When the media reports irresponsibly on suicides, suicides increase. When the media reports irresponsibly on crime and race, racist beliefs increase. This is why responsible news outlets omit information from their stories — while it might seem relevant to you, it can have negative social consequences.

        You can call it censorship or political correctness, but I call it responsible reporting. This blog’s comments on its crime stories are appallingly racist, in my view (a white woman). I see no social value — and significant social harm — to perpetrating them.

        • I too was once naive and thought the same way and then a young child was shot on our block by the guys on the corner who weren’t doing anything wrong.

          Someday you’ll see the error in your ways, the girls who were raped by the men on the sidewalk you’d think it would be racist to complain about.

          When the hair on the back of your neck goes up, listen to it.

          There is a woman I knew in Ward 1 who got pregnant at age 15 because I didn’t do enough to keep her adult “boyfriend” off the streets. And when her daughter was a toddler the father was in jail, no help to the mom at all.

          That is the legacy you spread. I consider that significant social harm- how can you not?

        • We’re glad that you’ve appointed yourself social value arbiter. While there is no doubt ignorance abounds when a story like this gets legs, the ignorance is pretty even-handed.

          On one side people work up to talking about eugenics and on the other side people want to ignore the obvious problems and blather on about projects and programs that make them feel better about themselves but accomplish precious little with regard to public safety progress. Race and class have nothing at all to do with basic public order.

          There is no amount of after-school programs, job training, or other outreach that will make a bit of difference to the small difficult percentage of people who instigate problems in this city. While some programs work for people, and by no means should we end them all, not everyone can be saved by social engineering.

          It’s not a white or black issue, some people, whether they are a thug on the street or Bernie Madoff, are simply unsalvageable. If 10,000 years of human culture, such that it is, can’t resolve this issue short of incapacitation what makes the experts in DC so damn smart?

          And what are the results of this model in DC?


  • As long as anyone, black or white or whatever, sees a huge melee involving 70 teens in which several people were hurt as \not that big a deal,\ this problem will continue and DC will remain the ungovernable mess that it is. Your petulant victimization theories and apologies for violent, anti-social behavior are examples of what is wrong with black culture today, much more so than the height of anyone’s pants.

  • My neighbor plays his music too loud while washing his car every weekend. I’m talking about criminally loud (it shakes the dishes in my kitchen and I have measured the volume 98 db inside my house) He makes it into a racial issue when I ask him to turn down his music. “[His] people just love music.” and he could be “out here robbing people.” Instead he chooses to rob me of the “enjoyment of my property.”

    This is a race issue because, he sees it as a white person, telling a black person that he can’t wash his car. This makes it impossible to negotiate a reasonable outcome.

    • There’s no need to buy into his claims that this is a racial issue. It sounds like this was perceived to be a race issue, but is an issue of incivility. So you politely asked him to turn his music down once and he refused? Are you sure he would have immediately turned his music down if you were a Black neighbor who had asked him to do so? Have you talked to any other neighbors about whether this bothers them?
      Not saying that you haven’t, but I think neighbors should make an effort to get to know each other and that might prevent them from dismissing each other’s wishes so easily.

      • just as an aside, I get very angry at the concept that I need to get to know people better as if their rudeness would disappear if only *I* made the effort like it doesn’t go both ways.

        I have several black acquaintances on my block and remember, culturally, they were raised southern so it’s Mr. and Mrs. and how are your grandchildren and isn’t he starting Junior High already, my gosh you surely are blessed. I’ve been in their houses and hung out at their block parties.

        But, and this is real, there is one surviving criminal family on the block that still plays the race card against me. I’m picking on them because they’re black (not because 6 residents of that house were convicted of crimes in the last 10 years including crack cocaine sales). I’m a “newcomer.” I “don’t understand the neighborhood. They were “born here.” Hell, they have a 12 year old who I once overheard say “These newcomers wanna start something, I was BORN HERE.” Well not only was I living here when her mom was pregnant I was living here when her mom was pregnant with her sister as well.

        About 10 years ago we organized an Earth Day alley clean-up and it was only attended by white couples. No African-American neighbors took part in the alley clean up for earth day.

        People can see how “white” such an event may be perceived as but how is Earth Day a “white” thing? Why did it happen?

  • What is with the use of backslahes (” ) in the comments?

    The last time I saw something like that was back in the early days of the internet, before the web took off. People knew a markup language was coming, they just did not know it was HTML, so they used ” s for quotes.

  • I have a question that I hope will not set off a bunch of racist comments.

    I noticed in the other thread that a number of people seemed to say that they thought, that some mothers think of their kids as “accessories”.

    Is this a racial thing or simply that some people have kids without thinking about what it involves, just because it is the thing to do?

    • I replied to your post. PoP blocked it. No biggie. But there was no offensive language. Maybe it wasn’t totally PC. But I think it is a valid opinion.

      • I am curious to hear it. If you like you can email me at bw.webmail -AT- gmail -DOT_ com

        I asked the question, because I heard the reference in other places beyond POP, almost always with an undertone of being snide and I am wondering if it is a racial thing given the contexts I heard it in

  • Is the PoP blog considered news media? Not in my world…

  • The above was meant to be a reply for Ward 4. Having serious issues reading and enteringrecaptcha today.

    • It’s evolving, right? As blogs grow in readership, I think their editors have to weigh these considerations, just as the traditional media have to.

      So, for example, the headlines and context of a story on suicide can influence whether more or less people attempt suicide after reading the story. Shouldn’t blogs like GGW or Unsuck DC Metro know that if they’re posting stories on suicides? Shouldn’t they take small steps to reduce the potential social harm that their reporting could do by changing their headlines or ensuring the story has context?

      It’s the same analogy I’d make for PoP. If we know that readers’ comments can repeat and increase racist beliefs in other readers, why not raise the bar for what gets posted?

      From some of the comments on the Metro fight, I learned important additional details. I did not learn anything from the following comments, and I don’t know why PoP allows them:

      1. “What other legal measures could be done to remove the crazed homeless population and young thugs that have decided to make this their hotspot?”

      2. “Last week I took my nieces to the movies and we went to Georgetown instead. No urban primates there.”

      3. “If you can’t get rid of the vermin, at least you can lure them some place else with a little bait…Maybe there’s a spot along Benning Road that could do the trick.”

  • This is all a part of “The Plan”.

  • Yes these issues won’t be addressed… as long as there are people with influence throwing around cynical hyperbole like “Ungovernable mess” , contrasting all of black culture with “the rest civil society” and regurgitating tired code words like “victimization” from behind the comfy confines their desks.

    To me, this event is no big deal in the sense that there should be no surprises here given the circumstances in the same way that it shouldn’t be a surprise that College Park is susceptible to riots after a Duke victory on Thursday night.

    So, while I’m glad for the reminder of lingering sentiments, I don’t give a hoot about white fear, white anger, white guilt or white anything. I’m concerned about public safety—and my safety—in the city I live in. And here’s where the focus should be on Fenty and Chief Lanier and the preparedness of MPD and WMATA to deal with, yes, what amounts to a street fight that got a out of hand.

  • I think it’s too bad that PoP decided to post on race, I don’t think race is the problem. Upbring is the problem. Not knowing right from wrong is the problem. But race is just race.

  • I don’t like when you discuss race and don’t agree with someone that you are instantly labeled a racist. There has to be a debate, not being talked at, and this goes for both sides.

  • …..and a group of 6 white frat boys drinking on a street corner isn’t \sketchy\.
    Does it matter if they have a keg?

  • Race Matters. We as a nation would compete more strongly and live happier lives if we could just get past all this racial tension that is clouding our lives. Here is an interesting site about this issue….

  • Trust me, it all boils down to education and socio-economic status. It sounds cliche or like a cop out but its the truth. You show me a hood anywhere around the world (China, India, Ireland, United States) and I’ll show you some crime and problems. Don’t miss the point and think I’m saying that all those in the hood are pre-disposed to having issues, I’m just saying that the race part of the equation is really irrelevant. People tend not to really look at the root cause of the issue.

    I’m no socialist or anything but my personal theory starts with capitalism. The system will always create haves and have nots- thats just the way it is. Its not a perfect system. But thats just a start…

  • I grew up in a city that was more than 80% white. We had incidents like this, too, and the perpetrators were almost always white. I can’t remember the discussion ever turning to “thug culture in the Scandinavian-American community” or “too many fatherless young Irishmen.” I know people are hyper-sensitive about being called racist, but when you discuss situations more negatively because the people involved are mostly black, that is, by definition, racist. I’m not saying that to attack anyone, I’m just saying that you should self-consciously examine your own views, and adjust them accordingly.

    The fact that criminals and anti-social teenagers are mostly black in this city has to do with demographics. Go to the Northwest, or New England or the Upper Midwest, and I guarantee you’ll find white kids who act exactly the same.

    • No, I can guarantee you that you won’t.

      No one is claiming that white kids are perfect angels and can’t be menacing or obnoxious or a general pain in the ass. They do drugs, loiter, have irresponsible and unsafe sex, and can be giant drains on society. However, the unbelievable levels of violence within black urban culture is unparalleled anywhere else in this country, except in some latino neighborhoods. Its not just dc, not even close. Look at Baltimore, Philadelphia, Houston, Chicago, Oakland, etc. etc.

      To say this isn’t a gigantic problem in the black community is selling black people short. To try to minimize and marginalize the issue is to say that you don’t expect much else from black folk. It’s a sad commentary on just how bad the problem is when George Hugeuly gets front page news for killing his girlfriend for over a week and the countless black kids killed every year are lucky to get 3 sentences in the back of the metro section.

      I come from a mixed race family. My family has doctors and lawyers and junkies and losers. It has nothing to do with race and everything to do with culture. DC has some of the strongest social safety nets in the country, and it seems to do absolutely nothing to help. At what point does personal responsibility come into it? and by excusing violent and dangerous behavior, what are you doing to curtail the problem?

  • in 10-15 years when dc is full of white teenage thugs, and corrupt white local politicians we’ll all laugh about blog posts like this.

  • I think it’s important to talk about race, and racial dynamics shouldn’t be ignored. But I also think that many people are too quick to make judgments or attribute characteristics to people’s race, as though race is the cause. It’s not.

    Race or ethnicity may correlate with certain behaviors, but it doesn’t dictate the way people behave and it’s not the reason why people do things. Their circumstances, their background, the examples they observe, the expectations they have of themselves, the values they were raised with, the options they have, their socioeconomic status, and, whatever else motivates them — these shape the decisions we make and the behaviors we adopt. Yes, among these factors, there are some patterns or correlations along racial lines, but focusing primarily on race doesn’t explain the problem, and blaming social problems on certain racial groups doesn’t really get us anywhere.

    I grew up in a small town with lots of low-income white kids. Many were disrespectful of other people and their property, they got into drugs and crime, and had babies out of wedlock. People who grow up with little guidance, resources or options, and who have difficulty attaining a quality education or job, and who have a lower “status” than a more privileged group, behave pretty similarly, regardless of their race. (Obviously, there are exceptions — there are plenty of people who grow up in rough circumstances and turn out great, and vice versa.) In D.C. proper, most of the people who fit that underprivileged profile are Black. In other places, even not too far from here, those folks are White, or Asian, or Latino, or whatever. So I think focusing on the factors that really affect how people behave, which sometimes correlate with, but aren’t determined by, their race, is much more productive and respectful of the diversity of folks who are trying to make it in this city.

    • “their background, the examples they observe, the expectations they have of themselves, the values they were raised with”

      Please remember that what you just typed out is culture and that culture is different for each subculture including based on race and a target for racism.

  • So true. Half of the Pilgrims would die from malnutrition and disease.

    Read on in \Of Plymouth Plantation\ (1620-47).

    It was not until Govenor Wm Bradford dropped the collectivist farm construct and finally divided out parcels of individual private property farms planting corn and potatoes and raising turkeys that harvests flourished and fully abound making for the first Thanksgiving with Pilgrims and Indians alike.

    Nearly 400 years later, we can’t seem to learn from our own history: how collectivist central planning always starves and fails and private property free enterprise works, feeds, and creates our prosperity.

    • what a load of absolute bullsh*t.

      Look up Farm co-ops like Land O Lakes, which is a hippy collectivist co-op.

      Oh yes, Land O Lakes is out of business by now.

      Except you are completely wrong.

      I believe that nothing creates quality products like competition, nothing, but that doesn’t excuse you writing a bunch of bull and calling it fact.

    • Why do you type backslashes instead of quote marks?

  • I think we can have a productive discussion regarding race when ALL those involved in the discussion attempt/desire to have meaningful dialouge without hurling insults and using not-so coded language (as seen on all sides in the email string) to articulate their thoughs. It is clear to me that because many DC residents are frustrated, scared, and possess an overall feeling of helplessness,regarding the DC youth, individuals find it difficult to identify real suggestions or offer thoughts of resolution. Instead, attempt to “hurt the ones that harmed you” by using words that demean and demoralize simply to insight anger or hurt. You WILL NOT move forward with race using this approach. There is no easy answer folks, and just like POP attempted to have, what I would consider a true discussion about race it once again, has declined into a frenzy of offensive and non-productive dialogue.

    Both my husband and I are African-American, college educated,tax-paying, DC residents. Contrary to some popular belief, we along with our family members, do not fit ANY of the stereotypical “subculture” behavior referenced above. And guess what…neither do our several African American and other minority friends around the GLOBE. What I find interesting, is that while I see Friday’s incident and other incidents cited (child spitting) in the email string above as behavior that is an ANOMALY, it appears easy for some in this email string to group the behavior as the norm for an ENTIRE group of people. I am not naive to notice that the crimes many of the crimes reported in the DMV have been disproportionally minority involved, however, I am also not naive enough to think that all white people will turn out to be Sarah/Bristol Palin,Levi Johnson, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Susan Smith, several Catholic priests, Jeffy Dahmer, or the entire Jersey Shore cast. These are SPECIFIC indivduals that behave in a manner that is not “polite”, responsible, and, in some cases AGAINST THE LAW. I along with my circle of friends are pissed off at hearing/observing this behavior, it IS totally unacceptable. And yes, I would have literally been “snatched up” if my parents saw a HINT of this behavior in our home. I would have also been snatched up if I attempted to tell my parents to “shut-up”, “mind your business”, “get out of MY room” or said ” What!?” instead of “Yes” when called. I would not DREAM of using profanity in front or towards them in anyway. Shoot, I’m over 30 and wouldn’t do it NOW. Most of issues children who commit crimes of this nature face is COMPOUNDED (racism, gender, poverty, lack of education, lack of positive role models, etc). For those who identify this as an internal problem… While i can easily participate in a thoughtful discussion regarding issues of race in the US, I don’t have the silver bullet to Friday’s incident or others just because I am African American. I also know how to apply a band-aid to a wound, that doesn’t make me a doctor.

    What I believe is most important here is the “NOW WHAT”. This incident happened, the majority of those participants were African-American, and it is apparent that the issues regarding DC’s youth are very serious and are not going away quickly period. So what are WE going to do about it? Sit here and pick each other apart because it’s so much easier when we cannot see each other’s faces (BTW, the kids committing crimes don’t care if we call them names nor do their parents i.e. vermin, urban primates, sketchy, etc. I would be seriously suprised if these individuals visit POP at all. Sorry Dan.)? Or are we going to have thoughtful dialogue on how we will not be held prisoners in our neighborhoods and something that we do have the power to control, must change?

  • I sure as hell wish we could … DC people act as if this is the only city that has issues of race and class, when that’s hardly the case. It’s tiring; I don’t see myself living here much longer. The fact that race is driving the whole mayoral race here is ridiculous, especially since all of the middle class blacks griping about Fenty slighting poor blacks are doing nothing for them themselves, and won’t even venture into or live in wards 7 and 8. It’s silly to me … but it’s whatever. DC’s preoccupation with race is the reason progress is not forthcoming. I’m all for talking about it when it’s called for, but it should not dominate every conversation.

Comments are closed.