Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Out with the new, in with the old?

From the Washington Post:

[B]y picking can-do managers willing to take risks with new ideas, [Fenty] also helped bring about improvements in public safety, transportation, economic development and other areas.

Some of the accomplishments that contributed to the city's success helped to undermine Mr. Fenty politically. The city's changing demography unnerved some longtime residents, as never-healed divisions of race, class and geography reemerged.

Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) was elected mayor with the laudable idea that change can attract new residents without making existing ones feel unwelcome.

Pretty well sums it up.

Though the thinly-disguised code words get so tiring. Just for clarity, for those reading this from other cities, 'longtime residents' and 'existing ones' is DC code to mean black. 'New residents' means white.

Race is an incredibly loaded stew that underlies almost every debate in Washington (meaning the city where people live, not the federal side). Outgoing Mayor Fenty is outgoing largely because race dynamics cost him his job - to oversimplify, whites generally liked what he was doing, blacks generally were pissed off at him. It's really too bad, I really thought that Fenty being bi-racial would be a brilliant way to defuse a lot of the usual brouhaha. In the end he couldn't transcend race with results, which is what he seemed to be trying to do.

Anyway, I can't even begin to get deeper into the complexities and sensitivities of the subject here, and it would be too off-topic. But part of the reason this is actually on-topic at all is the way bike lanes lately have become iconic, lumped with cafes and expensive condos as pseudo-symbols of what whites supposedly want but blacks supposedly don't. At least early on, Capital Bikeshare was sometimes pointed to as hipster folly, even though what could be more Everyman than A-to-B urban transit that costs way less than Metro or the bus?

Vincent Gray says his goal is to create 'One City' from the current parallel universes. We'll see.

No comments:

Post a Comment