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Posted at 02:14 PM ET, 03/29/2013

‘White liberals’ vs. D.C. social services?

A D.C. official says that “white liberals” don’t care about social services, while black folks “aren’t as passionate” about services like recreation centers. Is that right? More important, does it matter? Can’t we have both?

Former D.C. resident Matt Bevilacqua talks about D.C.’s black-white divide in a post for Next City. It’s leading up to an in-depth Forefront story on D.C. gentrification that could either penetrate difficult subjects or rehash old, cliché tropes. We’ll see!

That story includes a quotation by a “black city official who has worked on economic development policy”:

On a national political level, we’ve always been and always will be Democratic,” [the city official] told me. “But when you go down into the local landscape or subscribe to the policy of all politics are local, that liberalism has a divide. White liberals in D.C. don’t give a [expletive] about social services because they’re not of that element. White liberals in D.C. are more about quality-of-life issues as it relates to the lifestyle they want to have.
It is bike lanes. It is dog parks. It is about state-of-the-art swimming facilities. It is about recreation centers. Capital Bikeshare. Car2Go. Streetcars. It’s about a way of life. Black folks want this stuff, they’re just not as passionate about it.”

“Liberals” may not be the right word here, as it’s not just liberals who want quality-of-life services. It’s true, though, that a lot of newer white residents do want bike lanes, dog parks, swimming facilities, and rec centers. There’s no reason black folks shouldn’t want these, too, since black folks own dogs, play sports and have children who could benefit from pools just like folks of any other color.

But even if this official is right that black folks care about them less and white folks care more, why must these conflict? The city has not cut social services to fund dog parks; it cut both in bad times and is increasing both in good times. It does benefit certain politicians or columnists to play groups off each other, but they’re not inherently at opposition.

[Continue reading David Alpert’s post at Greater Greater Washington.]

David Alpert is founder and editor of Greater Greater Washington. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By  |  02:14 PM ET, 03/29/2013

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