A Little Bit of DC Around the World

It isn't surprising to see pictures and videos of, or from, Washington DC during newcasts from around the world. Whether one is sampling the fare from the BBC, an Asian broadcast or a feed out of Russia, a view of the White House, the Capitol Dome or the State Department never seems to be far away.

However, it is somewhat rare to see that view of the city from the perspective of the parking lot of the McDonalds on South Capitol St. at the crossroads of Southeast and Southwest D.C. While it is an up-and-coming area, it is not really typical for a reporter to spend too much time there, unless it is in press box at Nationals Park a bit down the road.

An exception was provided last weekend in the FT when that paper had a report on the 'two faces' of the nation's capital, the black population and a burgeoning one of whites. Anyone who calls DC home will undoubtedly find both the history lesson and the discussion of more recent times interesting and can find the article here.


  1. Anonymous12/6/13 19:15

    Curious about your view of the article. It strikes me that when Whites leave urban areas, it is denounced as "White flight." When they move back, it is denounced as "gentrification." Are they obliged to simply stay put?

  2. Thanks for the comment Anon.

    Detroit is a great example of where both the white flight and gentrification slurs have come into play over the past twenty or so years. I am reminded of the title of one of my favorite chapters in one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors; Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire (in The Hobbit by Tolkien for reference).

    However, I think that it is more complicated than just wondering where white folks want to live - which is of course a complicated enough question in and of itself, and has been since Europeans began the genocide of the Native Americans (not that I am conflating, or even comparing, gentrification to genocide - merely pointing out that this is a long-standing and complicated issue).

    It is more complicated than that because in some areas it is whites and hispanics. Sometimes it is more a question of socioeconomic status than race. It implicates certain threads of the immigration question in other places.

    It also reminds one that certain government policies to shift the burgeoning middle class population to the suburbs during the baby boom (through highways and mortgage tax policies and permissions) have had an artificial impact on where people lived in the first place. It is a reminder that today's twenty- and thirty- somethings who grew up in those suburbs their parents were shifted to by those policies, finding them boring, want a different lifestyle.

    It is also a personal question for me. I currently live in a predominantly African American neighborhood. And I know that the population of my building has turned over considerably in the past 10 years, and that the population a block away hasn't. And I am pretty sure there are some who don't appreciate that.

    I was in a similar situation a few years back when I lived in Williamsburg, in Brooklyn (a few years before it was trendy enough for its restaurants to show up in fancy magazines). There, it was first generation Italians I was displacing. Similar to my situation now, most people were very friendly, but there were some who viewed me as an outsider.

    Like so many other topics presented on the site, I am better equipped to note that this topic is notable that to provide an answer. But I do appreciate the prompt.