A travel guide’s description of Miami’s historic Coconut Grove neighborhood as a “blighted” area of the city overrun with “crime, drugs and deprivation” has led one local bookstore to pull the guides from its shelves.
“It’s blatantly racist, disgusting wording,” Eden Sherman, the Books & Books employee who spotted the racist passage, told The Miami Herald. “I was absolutely appalled.”
In December, Sherman found herself flipping through the latest edition of DK Eyewitness Top 10 Miami and the Keys to see what it said about Coconut Grove, where she lives. The description printed on Page 106 took her by surprise.
“Coconut Grove is a more variegated mosaic,” it reads. “Historically the focus of Miami’s intellectual, bohemian community, it also incorporates the blighted ‘Black Grove,’ an area plagued by high crime rates, drugs and deprivation — where many of the descendants of Bahamian workers have settled.”
Sherman showed the passage to fellow employees, who agreed it was offensive, and paged through other travel guides to see if they used similar defamatory language to characterize the West Grove, a community founded by Bahamian settlers in the 1880s.
The neighborhood, once boasting an all-Black population as a result of forced segregation, has become increasingly diverse as developers funnel money into sprawling new million- dollar projects. And the gentrification hasn’t stopped. Just last year, a Chicago developer announced plans for a $74 million project that would bring new housing, restaurants and offices to the area.
That wasn’t always the case, however.
As reported by The Miami Herald, “the West Grove (formerly known as the “Black Grove”) fell into disrepair in the 1960s and ‘70s, overrun by poverty and crime while developers focused on the neighborhood’s glitzier east side, which is on the waterfront.”
Books & Books owner Mitchell Kaplan said he didn’t think twice about pulling the DK guide from his stores over its offensive blurb about the historically Black neighborhood.
“DK guides are one of the premier travel guides out there, and I’ve used them extensively myself,” Kaplan told the newspaper. “But we do not want to carry a guide to Miami that so misrepresents one of the communities within Miami.”
DK publishing director of travel Georgina Dee addressed the incident in a statement, saying the offending passage was a holdover from a previous edition of the travel guide. The 2018 version is the seventh revision of the book, which was first published in 2003.
“At DK Travel, we make every effort to ensure that the information in our guides is an accurate reflection of the destination,” Dee stated. “In this instance, however, our text introducing Coconut Grove doesn’t give the full picture and is outdated. We will correct this at the next available opportunity, and we apologize if our content has caused offense.”
Kaplan said Books & Books will not restock the guide until a revised edition is released.