City Desk

Was Marshall Brown Right About White Residents?

Late today, At-Large D.C. Councilmember Sekou Biddle fired Marshall Brown from his campaign staff, a day after Brown made comments about white residents in a Washington Post article on the city's changing demographics. Here's what the long-time politico—and father of Kwame Brown—said:

The longtime white population, the people who got involved in statehood, civil rights and environmental causes, thought of this as a black city. But the new white voters aren’t involved like that. They want doggie parks and bike lanes. The result is a lot of tension.

The new people believe more in their dogs than they do in people. They go into their little cafes, go out and throw their snowballs. This is not the District I knew. There’s no relationship with the black community; they don’t connect at church, they don’t go to the same cafes, they don’t volunteer in the neighborhood school, and a lot of longtime black residents feel threatened.

We have wondered if snowball fights are the new kickball. Still, Brown's channeling of Courtland Milloy feels about as fresh as well, organized kickball.

Why single out lazy white folks who couldn't name their councilmember, let alone locate the nearest soup kitchen? I can think of a lot of white people—and well, people—who tried to connect with Shiloh Baptist Church about its derelict properties. Does that count? I can think of at least two very engaged white people running in the at-large race that deserve way more attention than Brown's candidate and now former employer.

I'd argue that the majority of D.C. residents don't give a shit about civic activities. How many ANC races go uncontested every year? How many people actually watched the last CFSA hearing? How many black, white, whatever residents are actually going to vote in this special election?

And what has Brown done but enrich himself and his offspring by taking advantage of  a cynical and ambivalent citizenry?

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • Colonel K

    Dude is 100% absolutely right. Shame about his kid, though...

  • GarbageMedia


    "I can think of at least two very engaged white people running in the at-large race that deserve way more attention than Brown's candidate and now former employer."

    Can you explain this further? How do you determine that they deserve way more attention than Sekou Biddle? I would assert that this is definitely untrue. Sekou Biddle is a Councilmember, someone will actual power and a say on what goes on this city. To suggest that others deserve more coverage than them because of their positions on issues or solely because they are white is ludicrous.

    Moreover, your tweeting in support of Bryan Weaver severely undermines your credibility as a journalist covering politics. It is totally unethical, and makes you seem like a hypocrite when you critique the ethics of others. Much like Chuck Thies (the consultant who does 89.3) tweeting against CM Kwame Brown incessantly, when everyone knows that he has a bone to pick with CM Brown.
    We need ethical journalists in D.C., and definitely more black journalists to cover a city where blacks have are overrepresented politically.

  • John

    There is one huge cultural disconnect in Marshall's screed...churches. Its also related to the constant squabble over the MD inbound on Sundays. On the Marshall side, there is a sense that folks aren't reaching out by being involved in the churches. On the other a bunch of people who don't go to church much period.

    After reading this I really thought through all of the friends I made in DC since moving here in 94 for grad school, excluding the recent longtime residents I've gotten to know in local politics. Exactly one, _one_ is serious about religion. Out of a lot. Most people I know are either indifferent, agnostics like me (or the harder core atheist), or downright hostile to organized religion.

    You'd be more likely to see them using the term "Flying Spaghetti Monster". If church support is an expectation for "outreach', it will never be met, because a lot of the new arrivals simply don't care about religion.

  • StrangeFruit

    George Orwell once said, “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

    Sekou Judas Biddle just placed a wedge between him and African American voters for canning Marshall Brown for speaking an absolute and indisputable truth!

  • Really?

    GarbageMedia co-sign! What Marshall has done is hit a nerve. They are upset because he was able to give a narrative that is unflattering.

    It hurts. I know…welcome to our world. And so far the response is weak and shows that they don't know how to respond expect with well who really wants to know why CFSA didn't receive the support from the former administration to deal with why the death of three little black girls slip through the cracks.


    And the last fire bomb had many hits of personal sting "he's enriching him self and offspring"

    First if you werent in your feeling about Marshall you would know enriching to describe him is laughable, but this goes to the point that garbagemedia made because nobody on the staff does research beyond a Google search.

    Second, in a society where we love to lynch black men for not participating in their son's lives we belittle Mr. Brown for participating in his son's. Nope he’s belittled for using his political skills and experience to help him reach his goals. But I guess he isn't the color of Joe Kennedy so he doesn’t deserve the same love and respect.

    Lastly Jason his takes shots at District voters with this comment “Taking advantage of a cynical and ambivalent citizenry?"

    Basically using the same narrative as the Washington Post and the rest of the national media that "mostly those who were black and voted for Gray and Brown were too ignorant to know what's good for them"

    It's sad because if the media did have a real pulse on the citizenry they would at the very least respect that many voters felt marginalized and unheard. I guess we need to moved to Egypt to get respect. Cheeks see's our grievances were considered marginal compared to the needs of the dog loving twits

  • Joe

    Jason, I don't think that you have really seen this city. In all the things that you have written, you have missed something. I guess you think this job is your audition for WAPO, or something.

  • letter

    Are you kidding? Cherkis hasn't been to city hall in years and my neighborhood EVER. he's a FOIA journalist.

  • Drez

    I think Jason pretty well nailed it, with the exception of his endorsement of white persons A&/orB part. I don't really see how that properly fits into the article. Even if Brown Senior brought it to that level first, race is an unhelpful lens through which to view things.

  • Jason Cherkis

    Drez: The only reason I brought up the white at-large candidates was to show that white, black whoever can be engaged in and have been engaged in city politics. Yes, I'm a Weaver fan. But I do find it ironic that Brown was employed by a candidate who was elected to the council by the least engaging process.

  • Shepherd Park Ward 4

    Sekou Brown knew he had to do collateral damage by getting rid of Marshall Brown, because Sekou is married to a white woman. Sekou has being showing his white wife off to the white constituency to get the white vote. On the issue of Marshall Brown, he's correct in regards to many white DC residents. Jason Cherkis is correct also. Most DC residents are apathetic and don't vote. Most DC residents will not be voting in the special election on April 26 and isn't aware they will be an election. I will vote, but I will write in my own name because none of the candidates aren't worth voting for. Most Ward 4 DC residents have never seen or heard of Sekou Biddle. I live in Shepherd Park in upper Northwest Ward 4 in the same neighborhood as this dude. I've never seen this dude. His showing off his white wife to get the white vote by ignoring black DC voters is a turn off to many blacks citywide.

  • Really?

    Still marginalizing the voters Jason? Just say it in plain English like Marshall. If your Weaver supporter and utilize your twitter account and promote Weaver to your followers and this is how you feel and if we go by the city-paper’s “guilt by association” theme, then I’m worried on why Weaver would want to be endorsed or supported by someone who thinks that voters who voted for Brown were “least engaged” in laymen terms ya’ll too stupid to know who ya’ll are voting for.

    Is this how Weaver feels about the Ward 4, 5, 7, and 8 voters too?

  • Really?

    Shepherd Park Ward 4....I'm writing in my name too. Damn shame aint one half way decent person running.

  • JM

    Shepherd Park Ward 4... given that you mention Biddle's "white wife" four times in your message, you appear to have a great deal in common with the 49% of Mississippi Republicans who favor abolishing inter-racial marriage. Or are only white folk racist?

  • GarbageMedia

    Hey Cherkis,

    You arent allowed to be anyone's fan in DC politics. Moreover, you aren't allowed to voice this publicly. Where are the journalistic ethics? You don't think your being a Weaver fan impacts your coverage of this race? Do you disclose that you have a bias when you write on this race?

  • Bluish Pen

    About religion, that person is correct. If you mention God, people give you looks of concern (at least the honkies in NW). God is for the suburbs, countryside, and DC blacks. There is not much of a spiritual life among DC whites.

    At all.

    And that's a real shame.

  • OhMyGoodness

    I believe Marshall Brown was correct in his depiction of our newest residents.