Thursday, March 21, 2013

Is 'Southeast' code for 'Black and Dangerous'?

When did this become okay?
Editors Note: This was originally posted on Feb 18, 2013 but I thought it could due with being reposted, there is entirely too much of this racial and geographic fear being posted on social media to let this stuff slide. 

First and foremost, let me say that I do not think that that the negative tweets highlighted below are reflective of the feelings of an entire race or ethnic group. The views of a few do not automatically reflect the views of all.

However, as someone who has been reposting these negative tweets for the past month (go here to learn why) I felt I had to ask the question. A significant number of the negative tweets had at least the undertones of racial fear in them if not come right out and said it.

So I ask again, "Does race (or the perception of race) play a part in the negative stigma associated with the neighborhoods of Southeast? It would definetly explain why some neighborhoods like Anacostia and Congress Heights are considered by some to be "scary" while other Southeast neighborhoods like Capitol Hill and Navy Yard are considered "safe." I think it is important to ask ourselves, "Why?"

I don't think the media has been doing us any favors in this department either. I will go right out and say those reporting the news have been a BIG part of the problem. Before I even started this project of reposting negative tweets associated with Southeast and Southeast neighborhoods I was already aware of the media's sensational use of the word "Southeast" often times to mask their lack of basic knowledge of east of the river neighborhood geography. DC's own media corps is a primary reason why so many people incorrectly think that "Anacostia" is what you call everything east of the Anacostia river.

So to be honest (at least from my perspective) I do  think the "mainstream"media is at least partially responsible for perpetuating this fear of Southeast. Headlines read like cautionary tales of the dangers of living and traveling to the Southeast quadrant.  I know good things happen in the Southeast of east of the river but it seems the local media is slow to report them. Heck, I've seen not one mainstream media mention about our #SoutheastLove campaign despite all of the tweets and photos. I suppose positive 'Southeast' stories just aren't sensational enough?

So with everything that is being said, what is really not being said?

I'm looking forward to reading your comments.

Or course we can't forget this.

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DaReslnt1 said...

wowsers! These are the same people who will say, "I have black friends"

Anonymous said...

I wish i could find the blog post, but there was a Caucasian man, living in somewhere in SE that wrote an article explaining his reasoning behind the perception that all of Southeast and in particular communities East of the River are "Black and Dangerous". He noted that because Caucasian's are so used to be in the majority when they find themselves in a situation where they are not the majority they mistake that discomfort as the threat of physical violence. If you couple that with all overwhelming number of images of African Americans and our communities as "black and dangerous" it makes a lot of "sense" how some Caucasians come to such irrational conclusions.

I would be really interested to see the data on how many Caucasians are the targets and victims of crime in communities where they are the minority. Anecdotally, i can say that in DC (and in many cities particularly on the East coast) as an African American male in most parts of the city whether I am in the majority or not, I am seen as both the target, victim and perpetrator and very often treated as such.

Elle @ (Eat.Style.Play) said...

Wow, this is upsetting to read. I grew up here, and just like other parts of DC I know that there are places in DC where I wouldn't be caught after a certain time. This though...this is fustrating because I know Ward 7 is home to plenty of working adults, and there are plenty of parts in Ward 8 that are safe, and gorgeous! To clump all of SE together, and think that someone is going to bother you because you're the minority is silly. There are people moving in left and right and nobodies bothering them.