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News | Race In America | Why Are Blacks Leaving D.C.?

News | Race In America | Why Are Blacks Leaving D.C.?

Published February 11, 2008


Posted Sept. 4, 2007 – Where are all the Black people in Washington, D.C.?

Being pushed out to the ‘burbs where they can actually afford to live, according to analysts. 

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Can't Afford to Stay

While young White professionals and others, who can afford the big price tag on houses and condos, make their way back into the city, lower-income and middle-class Blacks are packing up and heading out because they just can’t afford to stay.

So the D.C.'s longtime nickname as "Chocolate City" could soon be a distance memory. In fact, William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, says that by 2015, D.C. will no longer be majority Black, USA Today reports.

Face of the City Changing

While the city's mayor, Adrian Fenty, is an African American, other key posts once held by Black officials are now in the hands of Whites.

The police and fire chiefs in D.C. are White. The city administrator is White, and the new chancellor of the city's public schools is Korean American.

Fenty's appointments have sparked outrage among many of the city's African-American population, who say they were hoping his administration would mean more opportunities for Blacks.

Dwight Cropp, a teacher of public policy at George Washington University, who once worked for former Mayor Marion Barry, tells The Associated Press that at some point in the near future the city may get a "White mayor."  That hasn't happened since 1973 when Congress passed a law allowing D.C. residents to pick their own mayor and city council.

"A lot of Blacks saw D.C. as sort of the Mecca," Kenneth Carroll, a Black writer who's lived in D.C. his whole life tells AP. "You came here for education, to get a good job."

Shirley Williams, a retired teacher's assistant, who has lived in her apartment near the new convention center for 33 years, says now that her neighborhood is getting grander, they want her out.

"I don't think that's right," Williams tells AP, adding that her landlord is selling the apartment building where she lives to a developer who plans to tear down what she knows as home.

Some of the Black youths in the area  apparently are not too pleased with their new neighbors.  A local blog, according to USA Today, has comments posted about graffiti that reads: "Go Home Rich White People." Local authorities have also received complaints about rocks being thrown at them by unsupervised youths.

D.C. Councilman Jim Graham, who is White, says the city is working hard to make sure that thousands of low-income residents still have a place to call home in the city. However, the latest numbers from the D.C. Housing Authority reveal that as late as of May, more than 50,000 families are still on waiting lists for vouchers that will help them out on housing costs.

Now that the city is booming with new luxury housing, retail stores and markets, the new White residents love it, many pointing to D.C.'s diversity.

Written by BET-Staff

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