In the days following Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin came under fire for publicly saying he wanted to rebuild his city as a “Chocolate New Orleans.”
Now, a report by National Public Radio is using similar terminology, calling the nation’s capital “chocolate,” but noting a change in its flavor.
The article, titled, “D.C., Long ‘Chocolate City,’ Becoming More Vanilla,” by Alex Kellogg, opens by stating: “For decades Washington, D.C., was known affectionately as ‘Chocolate City’ to many black Americans, because it was predominantly African-American.
“Most big U.S. cities are getting browner as more blacks, Hispanics and Asians move in. Washington, by contrast, fell to just 53 percent black in 2009, down from a peak of 71 percent in 1970. That’s partly because D.C. has quickly become one of the most expensive cities in America, and one of the only cities in the U.S. where property values continue to rise despite the economic downturn.”
The report says “demographers predict that if current trends continue, the city could lose its majority-black status in the next few years.”
The story has raised objections by some, including David Garber, a white man interviewed by Kellogg, who moved into the Anacostia section of the city for a time.
“Mr. Kellogg’s story was a dishonest portrayal of the changes that are happening in Anacostia,” Garber wrote on his own blog. “He attempts to prove that Anacostia is becoming ‘more vanilla’ by talking about one white person, me – and I don’t even live there anymore.”
He continued, “White people are moving into Anacostia. So are black people. So are Asian people, Middle Eastern people, gay people, straight people, and every other mix. And good for them for believing in a neighborhood in spite of its challenges, and for meeting its hurdles head on and its new amenities with a sense of excitement.”
Anna John of American University radio station WAMU in Washington reacted to the NPR story with this headline on her DCentric blog: “‘Morning Edition’ Chokes On Chocolate City.”
Tom Bridge of the WeLoveD.C. blog labeled the story a “quick and dirty race narrative” that gave “legitimacy to economic disaster porn.”
As WND previously reported in January 2006, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin stated:
“We ask black people … It’s time for us to come together. It’s time for us to rebuild New Orleans – the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans. And I don’t care what people are saying in Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day.”
He also noted: “This city will be a majority African-American city. It’s the way God wants it to be. You can’t have New Orleans no other way. It wouldn’t be New Orleans.”
Though Nagin apologized the following day, his comments were roundly criticized in the media.