Am I a racist?

This comment just came in under the post I did on luxury cars in Petworth:

Anonymous said…
You are not crazy. You are racist. You are attempting to put your suburban “sensible” values on Black people, yes, I said it. I’m sure that you have every best intention in creating an informative blog about “your neighborhood”, yet you fail to realize that “…our beloved Petworth” was a stable place to live long before you were born.

I know, you did not say Black in your Blog… you said everything but that… but if you had any understanding of Black American Culture, you would realize how ignorant your whiny little questions are.

So here goes with your cultural lesson:

Black folks have always liked and prized our automobiles. It is a status that goes back to early memory of my 45 years. Cadillacs, Lincolns’, and all other luxury cars that most other American’s consume. Much of it is a reaction to having a dignity and respect that was denied to us for many generations. If we could not live in the finest neighborhood (denied by covenants and redlining from reputable financial institutions) then we could drive nice cars. It is a matter of pride and respect, things that have come easily to you.

Black people are culturally different than white people, though our DNA make-up is 99.9% the same, we have been shaped very differently by the cultures we live in. I am sure that if you dig deep into your history you will see this… remember all the Black people that came to your house for dinner when you were growing up? Right.

So now you find yourselve immersed in a “culture” that you have no understanding of. “…our beloved Petworth”, really, give me a break. Face it, though you, like I, paid big bucks to live here, we moved into a metropolitan area that is primarily African-American. Not only did you move to a city, but you moved to a Black neighborhood… why? Because it was all you could afford. If you could have afforded to move to Friendship Heights you would have. And if you did live in Friendship Heights, I doubt you would be questioning whether your neighbors leased or owned their cars. What business is that of yours anyway?

Hipsters, and such take note: Petworth was fine before you came here. It does not need your revitalization. Most people here do not consider their houses as investments, they are the places where they have lived. You have brought in your values and attempted to push them on the majority of this culture… shame on you. I doubt that you even talk to your neighbors… just blog about it… blah, blah, blah?

28 Comment

  • Living about your means is not “culture.” Just like dumping trash on the sidewalk is not a matter of culture but simply a sign of rudeness and not caring about your surroundings. POP you are not racist.

  • By similar logic, criticizing the Confederate flag in the south would be racist since its part of the culture. All cultures have positive and negative aspects.

  • just going back to the original post…having TWO hummers in the city is ridiculous….have you seen the streets around here? move to the suburbs to have that gas guzzler and stop taking up 5 parking spaces instead of 2.

    POP you’re not a racist.

  • PoP–I’m an African American Petworth resident and that post claiming that we Black folks have a culture of Cadillacs is offensive and saddening.
    Yes, I am often irritated by the White Domku hipsters–why cant Domku hire a single Black person??

    But your post was not racist. Domku’s hiring practices may be, but not your hummer post.

  • Thank you. Although, I know Domku has a part time Black bartender and the original chef was Black as well.

  • since we’ve moved onto domku now….i went there for the first time on wed and the food was great, but i was really surprised by the lack of diversity in the place. it was primarily white, with the exception of the asian waitress and myself, a latina. is there a reason why the black petworth community isn’t embracing domku? again, only been there once, but seems like from past posts, this is an ongoing theme at domku.

  • The most racist aspects of these posts is the idea that “the neighborhood was fine before you white people moved in, and we don’t need you.”

    The idea of Suburban sensibilities is just moronic.
    i”ve seen more “white” people with idiotically sized cars than black people. its not racist to say gigantic cars are a poor choice for the city. it’s smart.

    Plus anyone that think that pride and dignity come “easily” for white people are very ignorant of this nation. and its racist to say so. its a myth ignorant people like to perpetuate to make themselves more self righteous.

    I did find it odd that you assumed the cars were leased, but you just don’t know how much money your neighbors really have.

  • Assumptions in general can lead to ignorant conclusions. I am black, and I don’t drive a fancy, overpriced vehicle. But if I ever choose to do so, I will operate and park it legally, which is all anyone need to be concerned about as it relates to my vehicle.

  • “But if I ever choose to do so, I will operate and park it legally, which is all anyone need to be concerned about as it relates to my vehicle.”

    ideally thats true. realistically we are all in this together. with the environmental impact of gas guzzlers we all suffer, When too many cars take up too much space, we all suffer.

    I’d never berate anyone for their car choice, but please do be aware that it does affect us all, so it does concern us all.

  • I’m black, and Anonymous #whatever’s post is the most stupid bullshit I’ve heard.

    I think you should get rid of anonymous posting…less people would be apt to post mess like that if you did.

  • Simply put, there is a lot of anger in that conveniently anonymous post about the cars.

    So, to sum up, the argument he/she makes is that PoP is racist because he comments about those gas guzzling monstrosities and how they seem so out-of-place in our otherwise modest and mostly black area.

    Well, why does “anonymous” get a free pass in this for making a gigantic generalization about black culture and its priorities? Not to mention for turning this discussion racial, so to speak?

    I’m not saying anyone here is racist, but if there is one person in this discussion who is placing race above logic and humanity — it isn’t the blogger.

    As for Domku — does anyone know if any black people have applied for jobs there? And as was previously pointed out, the original chef was black.

  • Golden Silence: wtf?? LOL!!

    Is your name really Golden Silence? Likely not. Your criticism of someone posting anonymously is as stupid as what you labeled “bullshit”.

    Anonymous Damnit

  • Wasn’t Petworth originally a predominantly white, jewish and polish/eastern European populated neighborhood when it was built?

  • I am a near 60 y/o female of color… and grew up in Petworth in the 50’s through the 90’s. Anonymous is correct about folks in the neighborhood and their love of cars but it should not be a concern to anyone but the owner … parking has always been tight on a number of streets, so when you choose to move to a neighborhood you need to assess the parking… if you can live with it fine but if not move on to another neighborhood. Do not criticize the folks already there for what they drive … it is similar to the folks who move into the neighborhood of the Black churches (in Petworth/or mid-town). The churches have been in these locations since the 40’s and 50’s… And the “new” residents start to complain about the parking situation on Sunday…
    the rub is that several generations of people of color in Petworth (and other trendy neighborhoods) do not need the progressive young urban homesteaders to tell us how to lead our lives… just because you think you know better than we do… POP you may not be racist, just elitist.

  • I very much appreciate the last comment. But I don’t want people to miss the spirit of my previous post. My post, was about debt, and living within means. In my mind this is not a racial issue. The newcomers and oldcomers and everyone in between should live within their means. Perhaps that is a bit elitist. I don’t know. I do think the issue of culture and the environment is important too. Finally, what I have commented about a million times is that the entire neighborhood is what makes Petworth great. It is the young, old, Black, White, and Hispanic together that makes this a great neighborhood. Petworth was a great neighborhood in the 20s, 50s, 80s, 90s and today. Stagnation is not good. New trees planted are good. Upgraded libraries are good. New restaurants are good. Strong Churches are good. Nice bodegas are good. Community is good. Fingerpointing is not good. Elitism is not good. We should be working together to continue to support this great neighborhood. All of us together despite our cultural differences make this a great community.

    I’m going to continue to write about things I observe in the neighborhood. But know this, depsite the fact that I have only lived here for 4 years does not take away from my love of this community. And it is our Petworth. I don’t care if you lived here for 50 years or 6 months. To be cont.

  • As for the comments on Domku:
    Originally the wait staff was all African-American, as was the chef, Eric. The current chef Arturo is Latino, as is much of the kitchen staff.

    Over the first year the wait staff migrated to a majority of white wait staff and now it is primarily Asian.

    I know Kera, the owner very well. She does not have any policy in hiring anyone, except that they are reliable workers. If you have worked in the restaurant industy you would know that the turnover is very high.

    As for question the “hiring practices” I would ask that you question the hiring practices of large corporate restaurants, not a small female, minority owned business.

    As for the comments about cars and parking, I can’t presume to judge what kind of cars people drive and why the choose the cars that they do drive. I am Black and drive a scandanavian car that is comfortable for the 2 or 3 hours I commute daily. That’s right for me and I don’t want any laws that tell me what I should drive, nor do I want my neighbors to judge me simply on that. I wash my car weekly at the car wash on Georgia, next to the firehouse, they do a fine job.

    I think that the original “anonymous” brings up some good points, I don’t know if I would call your “racist”, but you do make a harsh judgement of your neighbors and that does not build the kind of community that any of us want to live in.

    I appreciate your blog. It is a good start, and disucssions like this should not be taken lightly. They are important to us becoming a truly integrated, diverse community… you can’t walk away or simply name call. I especially liked the comments of the 60 year old Petworth resident. Her comments were insightful and should be respected.

    In our changing community, this discussion, in particular needs to be addressed. Many issues of race are also impacted by class, and class by race. America is a tough challenge: We all have our rights to free speech, and there is a huge responsiblily that comes with that.

    We must continue important discussions such as this one. The most important thing to remember is that we should “LISTEN” to the points of view that differ from ours, it is a chance to get educated from our peers.
    I commend you on your courage in addressing.

  • Thank you very much. I have certainly learned a lot. I don’t mean to judge my neighbors at all. I am humbled by this conversation and do hope it contributes to a greater understanding. Thank you all for your comments. I think one thing we all share is our love of the neighborhood and the desire to make sure it remains great. Together we can accomplish this attainable goal.

  • A little aside, Petworth-born, African-American Chef Eric Evans of Domku was STILL one of the OWNERS after he stopped working there, not just an employee.

    I also want to add that it’s disturbing to see postings turn ugly. It’s possible to disagree without being nasty about it. Constuctive criticisms can be helpful. Personal attacks serve only to hurt. What’s the point?

    By and large I see a civility to Petworth that’s admirable – coming from all the residents I know. That’s not to say there aren’t people whom I might not like, but that’s true everywhere.

    I’m white, and I was never so warmly welcomed by my neighbors, all African Americans, ANYWHERE. I have never encountered the hostility from anyone here that’s all too common in some other parts of the city. Check out some of the blogs elsewhere in the city: ugly, hostile, vicious, racially divisive. Who needs it? How does that help any neighborhood?

    I’ll take Petworth any day over elsewhere in the city.

    Yeah, some white people are naive about black people and vice-versa. So we can get to know each other and learn from one another. I’ve heard hostile remarks from African Americans about Latinos moving into the neighborhood. One white neighbor asked about the expensive cars in the neighborhood. I reminded him that it’s possible that people (a) might have good jobs that pay well and (b) that plenty of people I know live in houses inherited from their parents, homes already paid for. We all always have much to learn from each other.

    Naivete and stupidity are not crimes, and people can learn. Bigotry is destructive. Having a large dose of humility and treating everyone with respect and dignity can be far more rewarding than going on attack mode.

  • I agree with a.b.h. about the tendency for ugliness where there are differing points of view. My comments was labeled “bullshit” for an unstated reason, and I was criticized for posting “anonymously” by one who likewise posted “anonymously”. Accordingly, my reaction was , “wtf”?

    There is no real point in expousing the value of diversity if differing opinions can’t be treated with respect. I have observed the same on various community listserves.

    STILL Anonymous

  • Based on the only information available to me — your postings I’ve read over the past month or so — I’d say no, you aren’t racist.

    But the Don Imus fracas has taught me that there are levels of racial sensitivity among black people. Though all of the black people I talked agreed he should not have made the statement, the older folks of color, many of whom lived thru Jim Crow, wanted him fired, posthaste. Younger folks, mostly urban professionals, thought firing was going too far considering all the disrespectful name calling among black folks themselves.

    All that is to say a person’s experiences can make them read your posting and come away with a different meaning than the one you intended.

    I appreciate PoP. Keep it going.

  • I’d like to follow up on the point made by the last anonymous.

    Even among people who know each other, communication without the context of body language, facial expression, and tone of voice, lends itself to misunderstanding. Irony can be missed when intended or perceived when not intended, for example.

    Because race is still such a delicate issue, I have a two-point rule to suggest:

    The first point is, when reading, assume the writer meant well, even if the words sound offensive. Give feedback if you must, and explain why you were offended, but don’t prejudge the intent.

    The second part of the rule is to think twice about what you type. If it might be misconstrued, rephrase it. Unlike Don Imus on the air, we all have a second chance to look over what we have written.

    If the writer tries doubly hard not to be offensive and the reader contributes a charitable interpretation, a constructive dialog about an important issue should be possible, despite the sensitivity of the issue.

  • “Hipsters, and such take note: Petworth was fine before you came here. It does not need your revitalization.”

    So, according to Angry Black Anonymous, “fine” = crime, unemployment, grown, able-bodied men hanging out on street corners in the middle of the workweek, drugs, vacant/abandoned buildings, few quality business? Wow, I guess I am just a misguided little whitey.

    I just find it hard to believe that the black residents of Petworth would not enjoy a nice grocery store with fresh produce, nice sit-down restaurants, medical care facilities and the amenitites that more affluent neighborhoods in DC enjoy. I personally don’t think ANYONE white, black, or otherwise enjoys driving 20 miles out of their into VA or MD just to go to the doctor or buy some groceries.

  • As a friend of PoP, I take umbrage to the person who read one or maybe a few posts from what I can tell, and felt suddenly knowledgeable enough to call a person, who they don’t know from Adam, a racist. If you have every really read the PoP’s posts, or actually knew him, he talks to almost every one of his neighbors whenever he gets a chance. The same ignorance that goes into real racist attitudes is the same sort of ignorance that led this person to call the PoP a racist.

    I ask the person who so easily calls out the PoP as a racist and claims he doesn’t really care about Petworth, what have you done for your community lately that allows you to with a broad brush, put down people who have moved into the neighborhood regardless of their race. You can talk a big game, but have something to back it up with. I think everyone would like to know what it is exactly that puts you on the moral high ground?

    And “Black folks have always liked and prized our automobiles.” What? Other people don’t prize their automobiles too? Is this truly a black phenonmenon that any mention of “prizing automobiles” is automatically a reference to black people? Seriously. Don’t you realize that such a comment is ridiculous?

    I truly feel sorry for anyone so angry that they can’t see past their own ignorance.

    Additionally on the anonymous topic, I usually post anonymously because frankly, it’s my right to do so, so I don’t think getting into the anonymous vs. not anonymous postings is relevant here. But I’m using my identity here because I feel strongly enough about this situation.

  • dear pop. i guess you need another comment about this post the way we fellow washingtonians need someone else telling us why we cant havbe a friggin vote on the hill, but im gonna weigh in again anyway. i dont think you are racist…
    in fact, i think the generalizations made by the offended reader were as bad, if not worse, than anything tumbling from a bona fide white bigot’s lips… the car thing he alluded to only needed some follow up sentences extolling our dance floor prowess to qualify as a usda approved cultural stereotype!
    im black, and have, to the best of my knowledge, been so for lo these
    50 years, and damn if the contradictions you pointed out in your original post dont sadden and baffle the hell out of me..
    besides, these kinds of discussions are needed. people can say all they want about the “death of racial problems” in the us-but we still got work to do. and these posts, and insights, serve that need.

  • Amen, Reuben. Even if the talking brings out some anger (maybe I should say “especially if”) we can learn something about ourselves and our neighbors.

    In other such discussions I have had my attention called to cultural stereotypes I was not aware I harbored. I know I’m no racist (don’t we all?), but it was brought home to me that there were things I have said that might have given a different impression to people hearing them out of context.

    It was that sort of thing that led me to formulate the rules I mentioned in an earlier — speak with care, listen with charity, and give feedback without hostility.

    If we want to live with each other we have to be able to talk to each other.

    Confession — I don’t live in Petworth. But Takoma has a similar flavor.

  • Ah reverse racism….alive and well in Petworth, DC, and america as a whole.

  • Ah reverse racism…

    There’s no “reverse.” Racism is racism.

  • DC is so provincial and everyone here too… I am from NYC… I am Latina… grew up in the innercity and one of the handfull of people in my class to have graduated college… I hate it when people just assume that I have moved in to gentrify their neighborhood… I hate when some neighbors give me the dirty look as if I had stolen anything precious from their neighborhood, I hate all the hummers and big cars that roam around DC and its suburbubs… I hate materialistic people… I hate selfrighteous people… I’m glad I’m going back to NYC where people don’t give a damn or draw conclusions if you don’t answer to their greetings like they do here, or care about what car they drive or at what time they wash them… good bye DC… too bad you can’t be NYC.

    POP you are not that racist…

Comments are closed.