City Desk

Coming Soon To Twitter: Courtland Milloy

Courtland Milloy Is Learning Twitter

Brace yourself, D.C.: Courtland Milloy is learning Twitter.

The fiery Washington Post Metro columnist says his newspaper editors have been putting him through a "social networking tutorial," that he's almost done with it, and that his Twitter account launches in July.

The tutorials aren't just for Milloy, says the Post's deputy local editor for digital Jane Elizabeth, though he 's part of an early group. "Everybody is going to go through it sooner or later," says Elizabeth. Elizabeth says the classes have been aimed at pointing out how social media can help reporters. Afterward, the reporters "decide how best to use those tools."

Milloy is an unlikely candidate to be an early Twitter adopter. Way before the New York Times' Bill Keller declared Twitter "the enemy of contemplation," Milloy called its D.C. users "myopic little twits." In an interview for a Washington City Paper cover story ("What's Tweeting Courtland Milloy?"), I asked Milloy what he thought of the Twittersphere he'd skewered, along with other trappings of the District's newly-arrived young, white, professional class; he he assured me it just wasn't his thing. “Sounds perverted," he said mockingly. “Follow me on Twitter, and watch me tweet...”

At the time, it was obvious that Milloy's ire wasn't about the social media platform itself, but about the intersection of two phenomenons Milloy has angrily assailed: gentrification and digital vitriol.

Having seen "Chocolate City" at its zenith, Milloy is furious over gentrification. He believes black residents are on a forced march out of the city—and the age of anonymous digital relationships that give way to ubiquitous hostility disguised as conversation grates at him, as well. He's called comments on the Post website "vitriol," and has indicated to me that that they're often abusive (if sometimes profitable): “I get disturbed because the reality is a person who makes a comment and calls me a nigger, that’s still an ad man’s click.” To Milloy, despite the fact that Twitter users are disproportionately black, the platform is the way in which white newbies and digital vitriol most readily meet.

But that Milloy has put this concern away for now, and is becoming twitterized, is good news. That's not because it will bring any resolution to the Milloy v. Twitter slugfest, but because a more personal and animated conversation between Milloy, his detractors, and supporters is bound to be informative for everyone.

In an email, Milloy says the move is designed to meet twits on their own turf: The "myopic eyeballs that have been twittered shut to the real world will be pried open so wide they'll need new facebooks."

I don't agree with the racial hyperbole that sometimes shows up in Milloy's column, but as I argued in November, as the id of an older black generation in D.C., the often blow-back-baiting Milloy is a valuable District asset. Twitter is likely to only increase his worth.

Milloy says he's batting around the idea of making his Twitter handle @gigabyteme, a name he picked up from "one of those millenials." Though Elizabeth says the Post "isn't like, 'Here are our rules,'" she does think Milloy will probably need to find a different name. "I think we would probably not recommend that," she says. "We tend to be more transparent."

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • IMGoph

    yawn. how's he going to have time to call every white person in DC racist and write columns at the same time. one of the two will have to take a back seat.

  • Skipper

    Can he handle calling everyone a racist in only 140 characters?

  • Ben

    I've got absolutely no use for Courtland Milloy and his racist tirades. There are legitimate and honest points of concern over topics such as gentrification and DC's ongoing demographic transformation, but Milloy is not the person to engage in those discussions. He's more concerned with regurgitating column after column accusing white residents of kicking black residents out of the District, than he is with participating in any remotely constructive dialogue to promote better racial relations in this city. Milloy contributes to the problem while offering no solutions.

  • drez

    Trying to be nice here...
    If his main introduction to the digital world is the WP comment section, than one might see how his perspective of it would naturally be warped...
    /generous observation

  • Stinkinthinkin

    At least Courtland Milloy ain't some Southeast fat Black preacher taking money from unsuspecting Black or White residents like I see all the time in PG and DC.
    Heck there is a Black karate instructor at Bladensburg Rec Ctr in PGC and he reads kids report cards out to strangers in a ruse to control and molest the stupid parents and kids who stay in his program of karate classes and he adds doctor to his name prefix!
    So Courtie baby twitter away and remember to talk about jive black leaders keeping my folk enslaved more than the white man.

  • SEis4ME

    I must lol at the number of white people who like to call Milloy a racist..who would also as likely reject to being called racists or bigots.

    They are as likely racists as Milloy.

  • SMH

    I love how quiet he's been on all of the Gray fallout ... He was flapping his jaws hard and loud during and after the election and now has nothing to say about the crap government we would up with.

  • Sally

    Is the Twitter handle "PGCountyCommentator" taken?

  • Ben

    SEis4ME, when you call everyone a racist, it simply devalues the word and the term loses all meaning. Those who accuse Milloy of engaging in racist dialogue do so with a full cadre of column clippings to provide as supporting evidence. Ultimately, his actions cause far more harm to DC's black community than to the legions of myopic little twits he claims to despise.

  • Rake

    @SMH, correct - Courtland has been very quiet on this One City circus.

    Of course, I have to ask - is Courtland Milloy on twitter news - particularly in DC? For someone who claims to "love" the city, and "despise" gentrification - what's he doing living in PG County?

    Courtland, walk your talk, or just report on PG from now on. There's no shortage of corruption there to write your diatribes about.

  • courtland milloy

    you know what i can't quite figure out...and maybe some of you experts can help me with it: what do white people mean when they call a black person 'racist'?

  • IMGoph

    I don't know, Mr. Milloy, what do you mean when you call a white person racist?

  • courtland milloy

    imgoph, your response is for the rest of you: i have bets out that says you won't come up with specific examples of my so called 'racist tirades.'
    i'll give you from now until hell freezes over to come up with something.

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  • Native American JD

    courtland, that's like asking a white person to define "privilege". They can't do it for the same reasons.

    Now let's be serious for a minute...there's truth in both accounts: black resentment is taken as racism, and white influx and development has priced out minorities (and federal employees like me).

    Why can't we all just discourse civilly?

  • Drez

    I'm thinking the second question Mr Milloy asks is more deserving of serious consideration and response than the first, to which I further think IMGoph responded appropriately.

  • Scoot

    I cannot help but be skeptical that the real Courtland Milloy is trolling the City Paper comment section, but if he is, can he please answer the question of why the Washington Post still gainfully employs him? Unfortunately the invective and accusatory tone of his editorials do very little to advance meaningful discussion of the topics he purports to care about.

  • LB

    Mr. Milloy, perhaps the view from PG county is different, but to those of us in workforce development in DC, it's clear that the black exodus is not the result of an influx of talented young whites, but a failure to properly prepare DC residents for those same good jobs going back decades. Maybe the disdain you heap upon DC's growing young workforce would be better directed at the political class which has consistently ignored or exacerbated the plight of underprepared DC resident. Your willingness to blame "gentrification" on young white workers as opposed to developers and politicians of all races is one reason why people call you racist.

  • Rend Smith

    @Scoot, Checked and it's indeed Courtland commenting.

  • Cory Miyasaka

    lol Twitter has got to be outranking other social websites