Elahe Izadi: “The intersection of race and class in DC”

Washington, D.C.- Elahe Izadi came to Zorba last Wednesday to discuss about race and class in DC. Elahe is a journalist and writes a blog on this same issue, DCentric. Race and class in the US cannot be treated as separate issues. The second biggest group on school dropouts is blacks. Lower education translates into lower income. Blacks were also hit harder by the crisis, even when controlling for income. Middle class blacks were probably disproportionately hit harder because they had less wealth to fall unto and they work in higher rates for the public sector (which had higher layoffs).

History cannot be forgotten. After all, 300 years of slavery cannot be forgotten from one day to another. Some even argue slavery is a collective trauma that was never well dealt with (read Post traumatic slave syndrom by Joy Degruy). And history helps explain many aspects of today’s reality. Housing for example is a big issue in DC. Old restrictions on housing resulted in segregated neighborhoods. Housing incentives after WWII disproportionately benefitted white Americans. Once those restrictions were abolished and richer black families looked for better neighborhoods, there was a “white flight” since former residents were afraid their properties would lose value. Today the opposite phenomenon occurs: gentrification. So DC, which was known as “chocolate city”, will shortly stop being majority black. U street, Columbia Heights, Chinatown…they are all completely different from how they used to be 20 years ago. Some like better the new make out: less crime, less drugs, more security, more businesses…But where did all the former residents go? If they were house owners they might have benefitted of skyrocketing prices. But renters had it much worse for sure.

About these and many other things we discussed with Elahe. And we have 2 exhibitions to visit:

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