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I greatly appreciated your critique of Washingtonian magazine’s melanin-challenged view of its editorial staff (and the city, for that matter), and Huan Hsu’s insights into the Washington City Paper’s equally white environs (“Brown v. Board of Washingtonian,” 3/3). This is, alas, not a recent City Paper development.
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When I wrote for the City Paper (late ’80s until around 1994), there were two, count ’em, two African-American contributing writers. (Maybe that sounds like a golden age by comparison.) An immensely gifted former colleague, who shall remain nameless, was the proverbial fly in the buttermilk that was the City Paper newsroom. (I had a “regular” day job and wrote part time.) Her isolation reminded me of watching the great Boston Red Sox slugger Jim Rice in the 1970s, when he was the only African-American on that team. We would occasionally discuss the irony of being journalistic “tokens” in a majority black city and the toll said paradox took on our hearts.
But then, Washington is replete with these contradictions, isn’t it? My suburban colleagues want to know why the city council is making things so difficult for “our” Nationals, the Washingtonian continues its “in it, but not of it” coverage of this city, and the City Paper remains a snide voice for D.C.’s growing gentry—complete with the now-obligatory annual swipe at Marion Barry.