Allow me to get serious again

I would like to bring attention to a comment I recieved under the “Petworth Pride” post. I will include the entire post and my response but basically a gentleman talks about gentrification and the fact that when he went to Domku he was the only black person there and as a result he won’t be returning. I was very disturbed by this sentiment. Do you agree, disagree, what have your experiences been like?

reuben said…
Hi. Im a 50 year old DC resident ( and I currently reside in Brightwood-your neighbor to the North). I am also a black man. I read these blogs with interest, and, alas, sometimes with bewilderment and concern.. Like you (all)-I am frustrated when folks are so cavalier about , say, throwing trash on the street, but what does it mean when a fellow Petworth resident says things like ( and I paraphrase here)”things will improve as the neighborhood continues to change”. Hmmmm. Now I know that good, progressive folks like to say that gentrification is about class, not race. But when the dust clears, who (largely) remains? The diversity folks claim to crave somehow disappears… It’s a paradox, I think. Like the time I went to Domku and found myself the only black face in an otherwise black neighborhood. I wont be back. Enjoy, new DC residents. I aint (necessarily) mad at you. No more than I am mad at the kids tossing wrappers around.

Prince of Petworth said…
Reuben thank you for your comments I think they are very important. I’d like to address two points you make first gentrification and second Domku.

I’d like to be completely clear that I think the “neighborhood changing and improving” has to do with neighborhood pride, less crime, less garbage and more restaurants, bakeries, etc. This is not an attack on the current residents who as I have mentioned many times are the backbone of the community. Diversity is key and essential to Petworth’s reputation and fortunes. I do consider myself progressive. And I think the emphasis our development has on affordable housing and mixed income rentals will help keep the neighborhood diverse. Also, many of the old time residents have homes that are purchased and in the clear. So I don’t expect a mass migration of any sort. We need to work together to build a neighborhood that we all can be proud of.

Second, as far as Domku is concerned, one of the things I love about Domku is the diversity of its patrons. You have old people, young people, “hipsters”, parents, babies, black and white. I believe that Domku does attract many of the “new” residents but that is not at the exclusion of the old residents. I’m sure the owner of the place would love all the business she can get. As for you never returning because you were the only black person there, I find that very sad. I think you should give Domku and the neighborhood restaurants another chance. I know for a fact that there have been many black patrons there. Anyone else have some thoughts?

6 Comment

  • Rubin never mentioned if the staff or other patrons said or did anything to make him feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. The most Kera can do is to try to provide an atmosphere welcoming to all. Beyond that, it is up to each individual whether or not they want to go to her establishment. I have to say, Rubin, your comments left me scratching my head and saying….”huh???, am I missing something here?”


  • I was at Domku on Tuesday night for a book signing. I must say that it was a very mixed crowd. It made me happy to see that.

  • I’ve never seen anything but a mixed crowd when I’ve visited Domku — mixed in terms of ages too, which is nice.

  • I have to agree that it doesn’t make sense that just because he was the only black person in the place, that he saw at that particular moment in time, that he shouldn’t return. If I took that attitude about being the only Asian face in some places around here then I’d be sitting in my basement a lot.

  • I’d like to ask a deeper question for the residents of Petworth who have made it the strong community it already is today:

    I feel it is sad for diversity when a black person doesn’t feel comfortable being the only one in a restaurant. Instead of leaving Domku to the newbies, could you take a few friends and all go together? Then you ARE the old neighborhood in the new…

    I feel that if the new residents make an honest effort to reach out to the old (as PoP and Domku seem to be trying hard to do) then the old residents reach back and say yes, we’re here too, and we’re also going to enjoy these new things with you.

    I’ve been the only woman in literally hundreds of rooms (being in a male-dominated field, and the only Jew in a thousand rooms (having gone to a Catholic school) and it IS a bit uncomfortable, but I always felt proud to represent… I hope the black residents of Petworth and the old residents represent too, so that we can blend the old and new. As PoP said, there are a lot of homeowners and a lot of mixed-income housing, so we should work to make all change a move for the good of everyone–not just the newbies.

  • I love it how Reuben’s reverse racism is so obvious, yet he doesn’t even see it…

    the first thing he assumes about the “changing neighborhood” comment is the influx of white people.

    This city (and this county as a whole) is so full of reverse racists.

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