By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, [email protected]
Although White residents may now make up 44 percent of the District’s population, Washington, D.C., once coined “Chocolate City,” is still majority African American with 47.7 percent of residents identifying as Black, according to the U.S. Census.
Washingtonian Magazine completely disregarded the District’s majority population in a recently launched social media campaign. In a series of photos located in various places around the city, people are seen wearing shirts that read, “I’M NOT A TOURIST. I LIVE HERE.” Every single person featured in the campaign- a campaign about living in a predominantly Black city- is White.
As soon as the campaign dropped, Black Twitter and Washingtonians immediately chastised the magazine and its tone deaf marketing.
“PLEASE TAKE A LOOK AT [Washingtonian Magazine’s] DEPICTION OF WHO ‘LIVES HERE’… NOT ONE BLACK FACE IN THE ENTIRE PIECE,” social media influencer and community activist, Tony Lewis Jr. wrote on Instagram and Twitter. Lewis wrote in all capital letters similarly to the campaign t-shirts.
“BLACK PEOPLE STILL MAKE UP [47 percent] OF THIS CITY. THIS IS DISRESPECTFUL, CARELESS, AND RACIST (YEAH I SAID IT, RACIST). THIS IS VERY REPRESENATIVE OF HOW WE FEEL IN OUR OWN CITY, THAT WE ARE INVISIBLE, THAT WE DON’T EXIST. THAT PEOPLE MOVE HERE HAVE MORE VALUE THAN THOSE BORN HERE. THAT WHEN WE DIE IN THE STREETS IT ISN’T IMPORTANT, THAT THE NEW RESTAURANT OR CONDO SUPERCEDES OUR EXISTENCE,” Lewis wrote.
He then encouraged Washingtonians to not support the magazine.
The controversy surrounding the shirts and campaign quickly escalated, prompting Washingtonian to delete the campaign and apologize.
“As a native Washingtonian, I am very sorry that our latest ‘I Am Not A Tourist’ marketing campaign did not represent the wonderfully diverse city in which we live,” Washingtonian Magazine CEO and president Catherine Merrill Williams wrote in a statement.
“This was the very beginning of a campaign in which all intentions are to include the many communities that make up our city. We solicited pictures from a diverse group of people and put the pictures up in the order they came in. People who saw the initial gallery of pictures had no way of knowing that it was not, in fact, the entirety of the marketing campaign. We took down the initial post because it created an impression that was inconsistent with our values and standards. We’re confident that when the campaign is complete it will reflect the diversity of the readership that we serve,” she wrote.
Despite the apology some Washingtonians are still outraged.
In response to Washingtonian’s campaign, Lewis is putting together a photoshoot on May 20 at Union Market for residents “born, raised and educated” in D.C.
“We will provide a counter narrative that there are still folks who were born, raised, and educated in this city still here. We will provide a counter image that not every person living in the city is a [White] millennial,” Lewis wrote on Instagram.
The dress code for the photo shoot is all black.