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A reading of Go-Go Live, a new book about D.C.’s homegrown sound,at Chevy Chase’s Politics & Prose last night turned into a parody of race relations in the District, according to author Natalie Hopkinson.
Hopkinson brought a mix CD of funk and go-go songs to play during the signing. But 30 seconds after the first track, Parliament‘s “Chocolate City,” began playing, a white customer complained to the store’s owner that the song was racist, Hopkinson writes on her blog today.
An employee for the store turned it off, and then skipped to another song, Chuck Brown‘s “Run Joe,” according to Hopkinson.
“The fact that such people live in D.C. and have these views is not surprising,” Hopkinson writes. “What is surprising is that the deciders at Politics & Prose would go along with it.”
But Bradley Graham, who owns the bookstore with his wife Lissa Muscatine, says Hopkinson’s account of the reading is wrong. In a statement, Graham and Muscatine deny keeping the CD off.
“This idea that we silenced discourse or didn’t allow the music to play or whatever is really a distortion,” he said in a phone interview.
According to Graham, before the reading started, the “Chocolate City”-hating customer asked an employee to turn off the song. The employee turned it off while he waited for Graham to come over. Graham says he then put the CD back on.
Graham points out that Politics & Prose has been prominently featuring Hopkinson’s book, suggesting that the store isn’t hostile to go-go.
“I’m dumbfounded that this incident should have attracted the attention that it has,” he says.