Credit: Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

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To anyone reading online commentary about D.C. politics, the riff that got Marshall Brown fired wasn’t all that unusual. Back in the day, Brown told the Washington Post last spring, white Washingtonians worked for civil rights. “But the new white voters aren’t involved like that…The new people believe more in their dogs than they do in people. They go into their little cafés, go out and throw their snowballs. This is not the District I knew.” It sure wasn’t. The veteran activist was promptly axed from Sekou Biddle’s election campaign. This was not D.C. politics’ first hair-trigger controversy over alleged racial insensitivity, or even the first one to involve Brown: In 1999, he was reported to have accused a colleague of using racist language; the colleague hastily resigned even though the word “niggardly” has no racial connotation. More telling was just who this particular firing was designed to appease: white voters. Washington’s demographic change means racial aggrievement—and hypersensitive crisis firings—now knows no color.