The Plan Is Real and It's Called Population Growth

A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 13 2012 8:55 AM

The Plan Is Real and It's Called Population Growth

Washington, DC Mayor Vince Gray addresses an audience at the Cadillac display at the 2011 Washington Auto Show January 27, 2011 at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.

Photo by KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

A recent column by Courtland Milloy* about a specific controversy over where to locate a bus depot has revived talk of The Plan, the alleged agenda to move Washington, DC's African American population out of the city and replace it with a whiter group of people. Mayor Vince Gray, the latest in a line of three black mayors who've been accused of complicity with said plan naturally denies that any such thing is happening. But Gray's denials aside, there very clearly is such a plan and the evidence for it is all over his administration's planning documents which clearly foresee that the past fifteen years or so of population growth in the District will continue.

You see, if you take a city where most people are black and locate it in a country where most people are white then a plan for a growing population is a plan for whitening your city.


After all, only about 12.6 of the American population is black. So if there's a random influx of people into the District that influx is going to be much less black than the city as a whole. Even if the people moving to DC aren't a random sample, even if they're three times as likely to be black as the average American then their movement into the city will have a blanching effect on the District's demographics. By the same token, even in the context of net population growth there's always churn and always going to be some people leaving the district. And since most people living in the district are African-American, it's natural that most of the people churning out of DC (like Courtland Milloy!) will be will be black.

So that's the Plan. You start with a mostly black city in a mostly not-black country. In any given year a random sample of the city's population leaves, and a larger random sample of the country's population moves in. Each and every year the city gets less black and more white. Just because you're paranoid don't mean they're not after you.

* Correction: An early version of this post misspelled Courtland Milloy's first name.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.


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