Interesting Thoughts From a Reader

“I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the most recent (for want of a better word) gentrification-related posts on PoP, and kicking some of the issues (which one of my friends calls DC’s “Clash Of Civilizations”) around with some e mail buddies.

Last night, I was reading an interview with former Montgomery County politician Doug Duncan in the new “Washingtonian.” He works at the U of Maryland these days. When discussing his frustrations with PG County, he used the phrase “culture of low expectations.”

I think that phrase describes a lot of what newer residents of this city are coming up against. Years and years of familial and/or governmental dysfunction create what I see as a kind of poverty of the spirit, as well as deep seated self hatred.

Also keep in mind that government and monuments notwithstanding, this is really a small Southern city to the core. Certain aspirations are considered uppity (going out of town for college, for instance). Hell, my barber was nearly apologizing to me because she is now working with a nutritionist and doing yoga…. She was whispering, as if she’d shot someone.. That is the DC a lot of people don’t know. But this kind of thinking contributes to the aforementioned ” clash.”

Can a black woman (my barber) do yoga and take care of herself and not be considered an outcast? Good question…

These sketchy reflections are, at best, opinions/observations. I am not a hater, as I have said on PoP. In fact, I’m one of the people with a fair amount of disposable income, no kids-etc. Custom made for the changes so many of your readers want.
Of course, I neither belong to the young’uns coming into the city, or the knuckleheads (who see me as a sell out-bitch, what have you) In fact, I am looking into jobs outside of DC. It’s time for some proverbial new music.

I cant say I love DC- my 50 years here notwithstanding-but I think that many of your readers ( and you) are a big part of this city’s future. I hope someone wants to stay and make it better. It is truly crippled now.

Like I said, I’m just thinking out loud. Sorry this is so dang long. Long as a delay on the Red Line.”

It always makes me profoundly sad when I hear about good people moving out of the city. What’s your reaction to the above?

133 Comment

  • I think it’s sad too, but a lot of it is part of the natural ebb and flow, and certain the changes in DC are happening extraordinarily fast (even though it doesnt seem like it sometimes). It’s the transitional times that are the most trying for people, I think. Unfortunately, most people want to associate with “their own.” There are many extraordinarily happy people in situations that some of us wouldn’t be happy in… whether that be a sanitized boring white suburb, and indian reservation, or a poor black area. When there’s a “clash of cultures” so to speak, many people on both sides aren’t particularly happy about it. In DC, it becomes racial, but it really is MORE economic. Most middle class blacks left DC for PG and Montgomery Counties and still live there today, with of course large remnants in all 4 wards remaining, but large pockets of poor blacks as well… so it has become a definite clash of two very different cultures. We’re not talking working class whites here… we’re talking very rich young whites.

    To the original point, though, I don’t have an answer for this. Time usually helps. Obviously addressing certain economic and educational conditions would help too… but there’s no magic bullet out there.

    I absolutely love DC though, and truly hope people do stay and make a life here. They DEFINITELY do in the suburbs, and I think we lose sight of that. And people are staying in the city, too. It’s just that during the “transition” a lot of people get jaded. And also remember that Petworth/Columbia Heights isn’t the same situation as other parts of the city. My 2 cents

  • I loved the line: “Like I said, I’m just thinking out loud. Sorry this is so dang long. Long as a delay on the Red Line.”

    The article is pretty depressing and it is always sad when someone says they are leaving, but who in DC can’t relate to that last line without a little chuckle or smile.

  • race and class are huge issues in the District. in some ways, we are like a south africa, as DC has the biggest gap between income of white and black of any american city. these are serious issues ….

  • This is a multifaceted issue and your querry just doesn’t do it justice. You could write a book about it and hell what a great book it would be. So much of old DC has literally been bulldozed its down right in order for someone to write a book about the changes its gone through and its grapples with gentrification through the eyes of the old school. I hear that Anthony Bourdains No Reservations: DC episode will be about “the two cities”. Should be very interesting.

  • all you guys gotta do is watch DC Cab. Mr T’s greatest flick if not the greatest flick ever made. Bill Mahar is in it too. Shows how funky DC used to be before it started its march into the yuppie condo kickballin city it is now. on a side note. if you are on one of those kick ball teams. please shoot yourself. One wonders where it will stop. I think gentrification happens quicker here because we have height restrictions. If we lifted them or made them double what they are now downtown we could add more density to dc and grow the tax base without knocking everything down.

  • So that’s why I see so few tall people in DC..

  • I agree that the Anthony Bourdain episode will be interesting, but certainly a snapshot and not the complete picture – BTW, he went to Ben’s and MiniBar in DC.

    It saddens me greatly, not so much when people leave because they leave for all kinds of reasons, but when a 50 year resident makes a statement, “I can’t say I love DC…” Despite it’s issues, there are all kinds of things to love about DC starting with it’s rich diversity. I am continuously amazed, and saddened, when I travel around this country (and others) only to find a sea of homogenous faces – it makes me feel luckly to live in, and raise my child in, a place where it is not uncommon to see people who aren’t “just like me”.

    Ultimately change is hard for whomever is changing and even for those who want change. I just wish that in the midst of making hard changes and difficult choices the residents of this city would take a few moments to appreciate all it has to offer.

  • I agree with the writer about low expectations and poverty of culture. Its not all race and class — some of our problems are attributable to poor behavior, cultural relativism be damned, and it only gets by because a lot of the upstanding ‘old timers’ are too tired and a lot of the younger people were raised without expectations. The street garbage in Petworth is a great example of this. I see people who live on my block (mostly teenage to mid 30s) just dropping all kinds of garbage on the street, and just as often as not it’s in front their own homes. I know enough of the older people (65+) on my block, who have owned their houses for 20 years or more, to know that that kind of disrespectful behavior does not fly with them. But the common culture got lost, and the older people just can’t keep up that fight. In the younger two generations it seems that a lot of people don’t even know or care that things can so easily be better. In fact, I think some resent us newcomers (7 years here) for demonstrating that they can. But seriously, WTF, how can you drop a bucket of chicken or a clamshell of fries in front of your house and not think about having to step over it the next morning? Oh, and I hear that you have a rat problem at your house too? WTF do you think caused that?

  • I agree, kickball sucks. Overpriced for a tshirt that doesn’t fit and is a walking advertisement for the league considering you have to ref the games yourself and squat 2 hours before the games to “hold” the fields.

  • DC is undergoing a great renaissance that’s been going on for 10 years. don’t leave now! for anyone who was here in the early 90’s or before, DC is unrecognizable.

  • Also, but for all that, I don’t agree that DC is crippled. Anon 9:57 is right – don’t leave now – we’re just about ready to put on the dancing shoes…

  • what better example of the two cities than “bens chili bowl and mini bar”. well i guess yuppies pack bens now too but you get the idea. Anther good one would be the eastern market and the florida ave market (which will likely also become condos). hows that for the two cities? Hope he explores anacostia some too.

  • DC for the most part is improving. When I first moved here in the mid-90s, I lived at 16th and Irving, and at that time one simply did not cross 16th going eastward, for safety’s sake. Now, look at Columbia Heights.

    On the other hand, I’m getting older, and the noise, grit and rudeness (of all classes and races) is starting to get to me. I’m seriously starting to think about moving out West.

  • DC is finally undergoing an overdue transformation. But the gentrification issue is misleading. Many of us see the restoration of homes and the construction of condos and draw immediate contrasts between young wealthy professionals and poor blacks. This is natural because the visual image is striking. But, despite the fact DC has a strong african-american history, before the second half of the twentieth century, it was not predominantly so. While some neighborhoods such as U Street (and many others) were historically black, many were also not. So in many cases, the “gentrification” is really a swing back to those neighborhoods’ original context.

    Before anyone jumps on me, I am not adding any judgement good or bad. I am simply saying that the city was so predominantly black and perceptively poor in recent history that it is hard to remember that it was not always so.

    I echo the sentiments above about the trash and low expectations. I am sick of seeing people throw their trash on the ground. Chicken wings, sweet tea, condom wrappers… whatever. But I am also sick of “young professionals/interns” who throw their IKEA furniture, rugs and other crap out for the trashmen (who do not take bulk items) and simply watch it decompose until someone else has to call to have it removed. Those same folks often don’t know how to pull a weed or trip a bush either, leaving their front yards to grow into jungles full of beer cans. So… I think there is blame to go all around.

  • I agree with the last two. There has been an unbelievable amount of progress (yes) made over the last 10-15 years. It used to be that my parents wouldn’t let me even go to U Street, much less Columbia Heights, H Street, etc. These were very dangerous places (and arguably, still can be, but it’s night and day) in the 90’s.

    As for kickball, I personally don’t like it that much, but I think it is great for people who are new to the city and want to meet new people. It’s a social sport. What’s the harm in that? Some people…

  • I got mugged while pissing in an alley at a punk show on u street in high school. thought that was pretty funny. I dont think the humor of it was lost on the gentleman mugging me either. We would drink in the alleys while pit bulls tried to leap over their fences and maul us. Of course as an original white resident of this city its mixed feelings about the changing tide. I am a property owner as are my parents as are my friends. Being a property owner means sharing in the Renaissance. if it werent for that I would be very bitter. At least this way I see an old hang out of mine get demo’d for some fugly office building to be put up and at least I know that my property values will be rising above the average as the city continues to add jobs. granted the people filling those jobs will be playing flip cup in their waka shirts but oh well. the question only becomes will dc maintain any character as all that is old gets knocked down. or the protected old historic neighborhoods become like some Disney set. ie gtown.

  • PoP: I submit this as a CHALLENGE!! Why not have reader submitted and voted upon DESIGNS for a text and image yard sign that we can put on a wooden stake in our front yards that says something to the effect of

    “Don’t shi* where you eat, keep our hood clean!”

    Not only could the process of designing and voting be fun, and the message a good one, but it could be fun for your walks to see which houses are “PoP houses”.

    Patent pending on the idea… Ha!

  • I couldn’t agree more with the original post. Being a native of the area, it’s hard to say whether the changes are good or bad, you have to categorize the change. What I will say is that a culture of indifference to community and a lack of any self-respect contributes overwhelmingly to problems, and the easiest way for many to express that is white/black. Contempt mainifests itself as racism, but it’s not “white folks” taking over the city, it’s motivated professionals for the most part from all backgrounds.

  • Hello, readers. I am the author of the letter to POP. My mixed feelings about DC have more to do with feeling as though I never truly fit in than civic bashing. It’s not you, it’s me… (ha)
    Like Kyle, I am also seeking quieter environs. Don’t laugh-you’ll be middle aged
    ( and hopefully laughing at pics of you in those 24/7 flip flops) before you know it.

  • if you have been here for 50 years and its not your hometown how old are you? the average life expectancy for men is what 75? you are not middle aged you are last third aged or something like that. you should be retiring!

  • You really don’t see whole residential neighborhoods getting bulldozed for gentrification as some people would have you believe. The fact is, over the last forty years, block upon block of beautiful historic row houses in Logan, U Street, CH, Petworth, fell into utter disrepair. Outside of the occasional hideous pop-up (which in my view should not be permitted in a historic district) all of this beautiful housing stock is, inch by inch, being restored. The massive new development is not displacing these historic, architecturally rich neighborhoods, but rather supplementing them in very intelligent ways: thriving commercial districts on 14th and U Street, metro oriented development in CH and Petworth, replacing ugly old warehouses in Navy Yard with development and parks along the waterfront. I’d say that 90 percent of the massive development in DC is wholly appropriate: where there are metros, there should be high residential and commercial density, and most of the history blocks are far, far better off than they were 10 years ago …

  • Yeah getting together and having fun is great. I’m mostly just bashing the league that runs it. I play in another league for different sports and it is cheaper and has refs, shirts, and facilities included in its price.

  • Im 52 (this in response to Anonymous 10:53’s query). The median life expectancy for black men (which I am )is 68 years. Guess I better pack quickly.. (smile)

  • Look I could talk about this at great great length and after the one last scumbag family on our block shot bullets that hit my house, I get angry very very fast about this issue and anyone who wants to “defend” drug dealing crews and drinking on the street is going to have to face me.

    There are things that I find almost stunning. 12 years ago a kid yelled at me that “Mt Pleasant is a black neighborhood, get out!” Yet as late as 1948, Mt Pleasant was a segregated “Whites Only” neighborhood and had a long history of being “whites only.” the 1800 block of Park Rd was called “Little Czechoslovakia” in the 1960s because of all the “DPs” that lived there. DPs, now there’s a slur you never hear anymore. DPs!

    I’ve heard African-American neighbors talk about how “gentrifiers” “bulldozed” whole neighborhoods. As a white person who spent his whole life inside the beltway I absolutely believe that African-American teenagers “bulldozed” entire neighborhoods in the 1968 riots. There is no amount of cultural destruction in building… let’s say the stadium where the drag clubs used to be that can equal the wholesale destruction of the city in 1968 by the African-American community. My parents’ favorite clothing stores were burnt down, the local candy stores that made their own candy were burnt down, the local bakeries were burnt down. People call the suburbs “sanitized” but everything that was funky and historic about DC culture was destroyed in 1968. The downtown area is only now, 40 years later, the equal of what it was in 1967. Can anyone imagine that up until 1980 you really couldn’t find decent BAGELS in this town because all the Jewish bakeries on 14th st got destroyed? Did Mortons or the Bartender’s Academy rip off the underclass? I’m sure. but everything funky in DC outside of Dupont Circle and Georgetown got burnt down.

    I would go to the Glen Echo park in the early 1970s, which was shut down after post-segregation teens rioted there in 1966. And it was this cool little amusement park that was wrecked by kids from Southeast who took the buses out and got stuck after they fought with security guards. And it was shut down. And you know, it was just one more thing in my childhood that got wrecked by African-Americans in the civil rights struggle. And as wrong as segregation was, why did these kids have to throw rocks at houses up and down Glen Echo and Palisades in 66? What basis did that have in the movement? No leader could ever explain the 1966 Glen Echo riot to me except that African Americans were generally angry about the state of society. And no one, neither white nor black, would return to Glen Echo after that riot and to this day, the National Park Service refuses to put the history of that riot, nor Glen Echo’s segregated past on the Glen Echo website.

    There used to be an amusement park for kids there! It got shut down.

    And when I’m involved in the DCPS schools and some teacher tells me that the schools are SO MUCH BETTER than when she was in school in 1971 or that they’re SO MUCH BETTER than when parents sold crack in the school in 1987 I don’t give a sh*t. The schools cost more that Montgomery County schools and the teachers refuse to work at that level. When Michelle Rhee asks these teachers to work at that level, they get paranoid and refuse. I volunteered to set up a book and computer drive and a parent yelled at me that the kids, in a neighborhood where condos sell for $500,000 and houses sell for $800,000, don’t need donated computers, they need clothes and food. THOSE DAYS ARE GONE!

    There is absolutely nothing normal or non-confused about race or class relations in DC.

  • More importantly, can a woman be called a barber? Or is she a hairdresser?

  • New2CH. I am not saying blight is beautiful per se. but all you need to do is look at gtown. every damn inch of it is restored and then hell they added hanging flower baskets on the lights to boot. Yet gtown has about as much substance as owings mills. Everytime I walk in Gtown im waiting for a director to yell “cut” cause I feel like im on a set at universal studios. So far the neighborhoods you mention like adams morgan and ustreet maintain some character but who’s to say adams morgan wont look like woodley park in five more years?

  • wow neener. I wouldnt call your rambling racist but maybe you just arent good at putting yourself in other peoples shoes? Teens are angsty to begin with. I as a White well off teen got in fights and vandalized shit all the time. And that is without being horribly oppressed and told to drink from a different water fountain etc etc.

  • so, um, what? What businesses were targeted for destruction in 1968? We know about the “soul brother” signs on Bens Chili Bowl so that Bens is the only remaining cool old restaurant in that section of DC- all the other cool old places, particularly the Jewish bakeries and related small stores were destroyed. And the city is only now recovering from that.

    What I’m saying is that I spent my life putting myself in other people’s shoes without them putting themselves in my shoes. All the parents I know have decided to put their “shoes” down and say enough is enough, segregation was 50 years ago, it’s time the DCPS and the old guard of DC government and power put themselves in our shoes. It’s time to look back at 1968 as being much much worse than converting an apartment to condos.

  • I never liked the term yuppies or gentrifiers; I also thought it just meant educated white people from out of town with good jobs who aren’t afraid of city life. And I have no sympathy for rif raf who is allegedly being moved out. Take your littering, loud, illmannered selves to PG County and go ruin it. The so-called yuppies bring development, more tax revenue for the city and are no drain to the local economy. They aren’t paying with food stamps at the local horrible Safeway on Georgia and Randolph or having kids they can’t support. When they do have kids they have abandoned the public schools generations ago. If they’re from out of town, that’s just a code word for white. Tons of black people are from North Carolina, etc and no one talks about them being from out of town. As for yuppies leaving IKEA boxes in their alleys, someone just needs to tell them to have bulk trash come and pick them up. I wish I could post with my real name but i don’t want people jumping on my #$%^ and I feel more free this way.

  • 11:58- nobody said you are a drain on society. just that you are boring as all get out. Im glad you like “city life” but then move here and try and bring your starbucks and panera bread with you. But i find it sad you dont have the money to move to a place that is already a bore. like chevy chase. I like this blog because it was people who liked their neighborhoods the way they were but also enjoyed that they were in flux and getting new things. lately I see a lot of sentiment that “whaaa my neighborhood hasnt kicked all the blacks out yet! my neighborhood isnt changing as fast as that neighborhood did!. Wheres my effin whole foods!” sheesh.

  • How in the world could anything Neener said be construed as racist? Washingtonians’ apoligist attitude toward all things criminal and destructive is pathetic. No matter how you slice it, the memory of your ancestors being horribly oppressed is not justification for criminal behavior.

  • But there is what could logically be considered a hatred of black people in Neener’s post.
    If that is indeed the case, I am sorry.

  • CP. yr an idiot. First I said I WOULDN’T call his post racist. Thats 1. Then 2. the riot he talked about was in the 60s. so it wasnt a memory of ancestors being oppressed it was BEING oppressed.

  • yes i would say Neeners post wasnt tooo racist but it is obvious he has some latent racism issues he needs to work on.

  • I have never complained that there is no Whole Fields or Starbucks in my neighborhood. Shoot, there’s no decent drug, my bank moved out long ago, not that I ever used their branch or godforbid their atm near me. I know i have to drive if I want anything good.

  • I know i love the fact that on my two and a half block from my house to the Safeway on Georgia ave and Randolph, I can hear Ethiopian, Hindi, Ebonics, and proper english all spoken. I love that diversity. sure I am a young white dude. But it thrive off the diversity. Being the only white guy on the bus is fun!

    Oh and that safeway on GA ave sorta grows on you. They half price everything with a safeway card, and theres just something about the smell of garbage while im shopping that makes me feel all warm and snuggly inside…oh wait thats the dry retching… 🙂

    Still lets not make Petworth what the Upper NW has become. This neighborhood has quality working class folks in it. Dont forget the Huge contingent of black middle class working folks who live in Petworth, Fort totten and Brookland area. Many of them are my neighbors, and they are friendly, outgoing and care for their property. Heck even the half dozen skateboarding latino teens who hang on the corner were kind enough to warn me that the bushes I was walking by were infested with Rats. there is plenty of good in these neighborhoods, you’ve just got to pull away the stereotypes and engage folks.

  • I for one find it funny that this post was about animosity coming from those BEING gentrified. But yet the comment thread paints a totally different picture. One of the Angry Gentrifier. With not enough money to move to Georgtown or some other west of the park neighborhood they move into unchartered waters with promises that petworth will be the next gtown. After living there 7 years they look down their street and their neighbors are still black. Damn it all to hell they cry.

  • Also CP it’s worth mentioning, because my parents were involved in the civil rights movement in the early 60s but not the late 60s, that things like the actual integration of Glen Echo was done with peaceful protests, sit-ins, business suites and women in pink church suits. I grew up being told how important this was, but also being told that concepts of the civil rights movements were co-opted by drug dealers, pimps, and criminal religious/political leaders.

    I grew up in the suburbs and would never, under any circumstances, have held rioters in contempt for what they did until I actually moved to DC about 20 years ago and all my old time neighbors talked about how awful the riots were and everything the riots destroyed and how the drug dealers used the riots to destroy African-American society and how gentrification was the best thing to happen to these neighborhoods, etc. Wait, I thought the riots were a snub at the “ruling class” and these actual people on the ground said it meant they had to ride a bus out into the suburbs just to buy a dress because the dress store shut down.

    Anyone who calls those kinds of attitudes from the African-American WW2 generation toward the baby boomers who rioted in 1968 either “racist or non-racist” has never brought cookies and sat on the porch with an elderly couple and heard them utter “That’s why we can’t have anything nice” when they see someone destroying their neighborhood. To say this has two points of view is to ignore your neighbors.

    Gentrification is like peeling a bandaid off the 1968 riots. We’re slowly getting back to the diversity of the city from 50 years ago and when you rip off that bandaid, little hairs are going to get yanked off too. Look at the stores on 14th st and realize that the Target and Giant are about as nice as the stores were in 1964. We’re just now getting back to being as nice as it was 45 years ago.

  • I’ve talked to some of my neighbors about the littering and what i’ve been told is that a lot of folks are resigned to the fact that the rich, white yuppies are moving in and will force them out due to rising taxes and/or rents, so what’s the point of worrying about how the neighborhood looks? They throw shit out the car windows and on the front walks because they don’t feel any ownership of the area and see themselves being kicked out just like they’re always kicked out if they wait long enough in any one place. Some folks have even told me that they hope the trash keeps the yuppies away longer.

    I’m not saying this attitude is correct or right, but it exists.

  • So this is indeed a clash, is it not? By contrast, I was in the barbershop a few months back. (which is funny, since I dont have a lot of hair…)-and one customer said he was glad there were more whites in the neighborhood ( this was Shaw) because now the city paid attention.
    If I were a twentysomething black professional beginning my career in DC, I would indeed live West of Rock Creek Park… It is as apartheid as hell, but that is where the services are in this town…

  • The riots were spurred on by the CIA, the real African-American leaders in ’68 were doing everything they could to STOP folks from rioting.

  • The riots were not spurred on by the CIA, it was the space aliens. DCDW is clearly in on the conspiracy.

  • I for one find it funny that this post was about animosity coming from those BEING gentrified. But yet the comment thread paints a totally different picture. One of the Angry Gentrifier. With not enough money to move to Georgtown or some other west of the park neighborhood they move into unchartered waters with promises that petworth will be the next gtown. After living there 7 years they look down their street and their neighbors are still black. Damn it all to hell they cry.

    Sigh. I’m not even going to try to educate some people. They keep trying to paint all African-Americans as criminals. That’s just sick. sick sick sick.

  • Woah.. so there was no or little litter before “white yuppies” started moving in?

  • I’ll use the Georgetown talk as an excuse to give my favorite saying about it:

    Georgetown is the only neighborhood in DC where the residents are more clueless and obnoxious than the tourists.

  • But there is what could logically be considered a hatred of black people in Neener’s post.
    If that is indeed the case, I am sorry.

    Where? I offered a totally opposite perspective on the after-effects of two landmark DC events in the civil rights movement to counter the original post that gentrification is something negative. On one side you have the riots as the “Voice of the voiceless” and the other side you have “destruction of Jewish-owned stores.” How many people, all Jews, do I know whose grandparents’ store was burnt down in 1968? Well only 4, but that’s still 4 people I knew who had the same story! On one side you have “people standing up for their community” and on the other side you have “everything destroyed for that community.” On one side you have people saying here on this board that condo developments are bulldozing old neighborhoods” but how much of that neighborhood was destroyed in 1968? I’m dealing with this with the DC government all the time, I’m being told that I can’t do this or can’t do that or my interests in my community aren’t valid on openly ethnic grounds. If that’s not supreme irony, where the one-time underclass use their ruling class power to stop my ideas based on race, I don’t know what is!

    Remember that Mount Pleasant had a race riot in 1991 that was the Latin underclass standing up against the African-American ruling class.

    When I talked about the “one last scumbag family” on the block they are truly that, yet while 9 out of 10 of the people who hang out on that stoop are not white, one is white. There is, however, no ethnic majority on my block that I can tell and I count at least 6 biracial households.

    but I know that many people would rather react than think. I clearly f*cked up if I thought that we could have an innovative discussion on this topic here and for that, I apologize with all my heart. I will save this for the next time I run into George Pelecanos and we can reminisce about St Sophia’s in 1979. He’s not afraid to tackle the toughest questions about what makes DC DC.

  • I wonder how many of the Jewish-owned businesses driven out of the neighborhood by the ’68 riots were owned by people who were also driven out of their previous businesses back in Europe in the 30s and 40s…..

    Nobody “owns” a neighborhood. The character of a place will change many times. Either you adapt to whatever the situation may be or you move on.

    Frankly, I think that the original post indicates more that the person’s attitude toward the neighborhood is changing, as opposed to a primary focus on the changes that are undoubtedly going on in the neighborhood itself.

  • I don’t get how it’s suddenly okay to uproot a community just because there was a riot in 1968? Doesn’t follow.

  • I think the point is that the current community as it exists traces the bulk of its origin and character to the ’68 riots. Clearly you’d understand that the riots uprooted the previous community that lived here?

    Notwithstanding being “forced out” of the community for financial reasons, I think the people here now are likely going to fare better selling their houses as the community becomes more upscale than the people who had to sell their houses and move out in the wake of the riots.

  • Regarding littering, I’ve got a bunch of kids on my block who hang out at their grandmother’s and they are always throwing their trash on the ground because noone ever told them not to. They range in age from 2 to 8, and every time I see them toss something on the ground I ask them to pick it up and discuss the issue with them. Seriously, their mom (who lives with them in southwest), aunts, uncles, teachers–NOONE had ever raised this issue with them.

    It’s a lot more complicated than not caring about their neighborhood, and I’ll bet that if their grandma–who’s lived on the block for a long time and has a pristine front yard–saw it, she wouldn’t be too happy.

  • No one is stupid enough to say all black people are criminals. Not only is that racist, it’s illogical. That said, there is not enough of a discussion about predominantly black neighborhoods also being high crime areas, without people being afraid someone is going to call them racists. There is an unmistakable correllation that is statistical and pointing it out doesn’t make someone a racist.

  • Oh please, the previous community was fleeing to Montgomery County wayyy before the actual riots. The folks in ’68 burned down their own community, spurred on by the CIA. Now the same place is being invaded by rich people and somehow it’s okay because the neighborhood burned 40 years ago? It doesn’t follow.

  • Depends on the crime anonymous. If you’re talking pedophila, or tax evasion, or embezzlement or spousal abuse or child abuse or a number of crimes that aren’t drug related or gang related, your correlation doesn’t hold up.

  • golly people. 1) you can live west of the park for the same price as east, you sacrifice some in square footages, but rents are lower in some cases. really!

    2) 1968 is when the city destroyed itself and it happened to be blacks that did it

    3) no community is being uprooted suddenly, troll, its happening over time and c’est la vie. there are winners and losers in this world. it happens. but it aint no riot.

    4) neener, i too am stifled in this city because i am not black. the REAL RACISM in this city today is perpetrated by blacks on whites. if dont like black brown or other colors of people, you simply DO NOT LIVE HERE. the white population in this town is a self selected group of people who are open to other races cultures etc. its the black community here, ingrained in politics and government who are now the perpetrators of clear, sanctioned racism.

  • DCDire I know you didn’t comment on the correctness of the views you’ve heard, but you know that’s bunk. Screwing up your own neighborhood goes directly to the self-hatred the original writer was talking about, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the neighborhood a long time or a short time, not living in trash is about self-respect and respect for those around you.

    Rising taxes didn’t, haven’t and don’t push the long-term owners out, the year to year increases are limited and seniors are eligible for exemptions that cut the bill in half. It’s also not a race issue. More than half of the people living on my block are black seniors who have owned since the 1960s and 70s. I know them well enough to know that they don’t want trash on their street any more than I do. If they sell it will be because the house is too much to keep up, or they just want to downsize or want to move in with family — or it will be because they are sick of dealing with the same problems people are talking about on here (although I expect that most will stay and continue to be great neighbors). And of course the people who are doing the littering won’t be able to buy the house when it goes up for sale; self-respect and responsible behavior usually precedes economic self-sufficiency, not the other way around. The “newcomers” are also more than diverse enough to make frustrations at “rich white yuppies” a terrible canard and, in any event, an exceptionally poor excuse.

  • Classic. Now the rich, white yuppies are the victim. Do you understand how stupid that sounds to the majority of non-rich, non-white, non-yuppies that make up the majority of this city?

  • 1300 blk-i was just reporting on what I’m told by my neighbors. Like I said, not saying it’s a correct attitude. Personally I think any excuse for littering is just stupid.

  • dcdire dont waste your time. these people are hell bent on the day they can say “you have no idea what this neighborhood used to be like. blacks and trash everywhere. aren’t i cool for having lived here back then? wasnt it a great investment.?” and that day cant come fast enough for them. if it were legal to do so they would round them up and run them out of town the old fashioned way.

  • I don’t really think most “gentrifiers” care one way or the other about what color their neighbors are so long as they are good neighbors. I would think that most people moving into Petworth with the hopes of it becoming a safer place over time and a better investment are just hoping to have neighbors who ultimately share that goal whether they be new comers or old time residents. I think everyone wishes they lived in an area where their neighbors were all employed, the kids were polite, and people picked up after themselves. Honestly the only people I would like to see move away are the crack heads, gang bangers, drug dealers, and other seedy characters. I don’t care what they look like, but if they make the neighborhood unsafe why should we put up with it?

    Maybe its just me, but doesn it seem that using race as the reason for people moving into DC, is like spreading more propoganda when the seed of fear and misunderstanding are already planted.

  • Classic. Now the rich, white yuppies are the victim. Do you understand how stupid that sounds to the majority of non-rich, non-white, non-yuppies that make up the majority of this city?

    But… I’m not trying to paint myself as a victim because I don’t have a victim mentality, but ask yourself this… how would it feel to live on a block where the beat cops are all African-American with some Latin cops, where the school principal and the majority of the teachers are African-American with some Latin and white teachers, working for an African-American-owned government contracting company, where the mayor and all the mayors you’ve ever really known are African-American, where much of the city council is African-American, where many city administrators including in some administrations the Chief of Police is African-American and where no matter what store you go into the clerk taking your money is African-American. A city where one of the biggest real estate developers is an Arab and the school chancellor is Korean. A city where the government cafeterias serve sweet potato pie and greens, but you can’t get a vienerschnitzel to save your life even though that used to be everywhere when I was a kid. There are no delis here, but there are plenty of burrito places.

    Imagine all that and then be told that white people hold the “real power” here. I mean. Sure, I guess that the people on the board of Target and Giant and these stores probably are, and Charles E Smith probably was, and then there’s Jim Graham, but… I’m voting for a black president this year… at what point can we… oh never mind.

  • Actually, Anonymous at 1:58, I am hell bent for the day when I can say, “Remember when that sanctimonious Anonymous at 1:58 lived here? Thank God he was greedily devoured by carnivorous squirrels.”

    That will be a happy day.

  • Some of you really are too stupid for your own good.

    White yuppies are indeed victims. Poor, rich, middle-of-the-road, and homeless blacks are victims. Latinos are victims. Everyone well-meaning person in this town is victim to a crooked municipal government, an apathetic daytime population of commuters, morally-bankrupt parents, lazy civil servants, and a degenerate minority of brazen criminals. Washington is a broken society, and those who care to howl about community centers and race and all kinds of other distracting bullshit are contributing to the problem.

  • Wow. What a great juxtaposition from the 1:24 comments. Perplexed notes that nobody owns a neighborhood and DCDW, by complaining about a community being uprooted, implicitly says that some group does.

    For the record, I’m with Perplexed. Things change, people move in and out, the corpus of the community changes, and different norms emerge.

    Gentrification brings renewal, renovation, and development. It also brings displacement. In its worst iteration, or at least the worst version told of it, that displacement is purposeful. But very few individual “gentrifiers” that I know harbor any agenda or purpose of displacement, save a desire to see less crime and more mutual respect for person and property when faced with what the original writer identifes (correctly, in my view) as a sick prevailing culture. Moreover, in our neighborhood: (1) many of the gentrifiers in fact haven’t displaced anybody and, instead, have moved into previously vacant buildings or developments where until recently nothing stood and (2) DC policies have mitigated many of the displacement issues that accompany gentrification — covenants for set aside units in new developments on city owned land, property tax increase caps, renovation and placement into service as affordable housing formerly vacant or abandoned properties that have blighted their blocks for years, rent control, and tenants’ rights to purchase/match offers in condo conversions. It’s not as if this is just unregulated free market economics at its worst.

  • The issue with gentrification is really home ownership. When I lived in Logan Circle area as it gentrified, my elderly African American neighbor scored 3 million dollars for her old townhouse that she held onto since the early 60’s. Her and her husband used a hose to keep it wet and safe during the riots as men she didn’t recognize tried to burn down the block (with great success). When she sold she wept with joy and said ‘all my grandbabies are going to college.’ When I finally saved enough to buy a place way uptown on Georgia Ave the previous owners, likewise African Americans, scored $140K in profit off the sale. I’m guessing many such folks love gentrification as it validates the American dream. Then there’s the dumb and pathetic who simply want crapulence as it validates their lifestyle.

    My goal is to leave DC ASAP, before the next riots see me hanging from a telephone pole. I want to live somewhere where more people use trash cans and toilets. I don’t think that is unreasonable. Sure, I admit I also want to live among men who pull up their pants and seek work, but that’s just an ‘extra’. Mostly I don’t want to live where I get threatened with violence and death while walking into a grocery store or sitting on my porch. Culture of low expectations? I wish. DC is a culture of victimization, like the janjawiid of Darfur. Pathetic. Not poor.

  • Actually the people I know who moved to DC in the last two years did it for one single reason: To live “green” and eliminate commuting by car. I don’t know anyone who bought a house on my block or who I met through work as a new white DC resident who didn’t talk about the commute and “Green” issues first.

    In the worst sense, it could be said that they are ignoring the cultural tensions that are going on here. Almost all of them I talk to feel that quality of life issues, such as keeping adult men from drinking in a children’s playground, hold zero relationship to race and class. I like to think so and sometimes I will forcefully talk about “Stomping out” crew culture because I’m that angry about it, but I’m not foolish enough to think that while I don’t see race in street criminals, that a neighbor won’t say, as I heard many years ago, “I’m not going to let them take one more brother off the streets.”

    My reality is that I side with my elderly African-American neighbors and the young professional mixed-race couples on our block who want crime dealt with. That’s the only reality that I see anymore, even if at one time, I viewed the guys on the corner as representative of a different culture I didn’t fully understand. Now I fully understand what they’re doing and I call the cops when money exchanges hands.

  • I give up. Folks on here just seem to feel wayyy to entitled to be rich, pompous a-holes with no regard for others and no self-awareness of the damage they do.

  • HA! “a-holes with no regard for others and no self-awareness of the damage they do” … I’ve certainly thought this about people in the neighborhood many times, but I bet it’s not the same ones you’re thinking it about.

  • But, on the other hand, I moved to DC from the Detroit area, and all of DC is pretty fortunate in comparison. It kills me to admit it, but Detroit is a city that is truly “crippled.” Imagine a vast city sans public transportation that was built to hold 2.5 million people. Now imagine that city trying to maintain its police force, public schools, roads, development projects, social services, etc. with the tax dollars generated by 900,000 primarily low-income residents.

    I realize that complaints are largely regional, and perspective never prevented a home invasion or swept up the broken glass on the sidewalk. But the fact that DC has the resources to attempt a course correction for public schools, transit, beautification of parks and major streets, crime prevention, low-income housing, etc. is due to the fact that it has a tax base that enables it to do so. This tax-base is funded by everyone, and the benefits are there for all who are interested in apprciating them.

    There is an obnoxious undercurrent to gentrification, I get that. Corporate investments follow the interest of young consumers. So I can understand frustrated comments like “you all didn’t care about improving DC before ‘they’ moved in.”

    But I don’t understand the complaints when new residents raise issues such as litter, petty and violent crime, city services, etc. This goes back to the original posters comments regarding “low expectations.” Maybe it’s because long-time residents had to live with poor conditions for so long and are offended that things are changing now that new faces are showing up. Maybe the general sentiment is that we gentrifiers haven’t earned it yet; we don’t appreciate the differences.

    But I make no apologies for calling the police on the drug-dealers or users, regardless of whether they grew up here. I also make no apologies for pestering DPW to install trash cans in areas where litter is prevalent. That’s not me throwing ‘bows, trying to change the cultre of the neighborhood. Those are calls that should have (and probably were) being made before I got here. I’m just adding my voice to the choir.

    Pie in the sky, but I think everyone should take the time to sit out on their front porch, take a walk through the neighborhood, or just generally talk with their neighbors instead of classifying them immediately. The advances won’t always be accepted. There are those on both sides of the debate that will still hold their animosity front and center. But some preconceived notions might be broken down, and that’s a step. One of the things I appreciate about the purveyor of this blog is his willingness to do these things. It’d be nice if it was more prevalent.

  • Damn, that was long.

  • Ok. One more post on this from the author… For what it is worth… The litter thing baffles and/or angers me, too. I was taught that being poor didn’t mean you could shirk one’s sense of environmental upkeep. My folks would have kicked my ass if I even walked down the street drinking a soda in public (maybe this is why these public cell phone chats irk me so. It would have been considered “common” back in the day.)
    When my family moved here, the black folks who were scaring more than a few white families out (let’s be real) were, for the most part-middle class. And I don’t just mean economically. My Mom’s friends knew which forks to use, could quote Lord Byron, etc.
    These folks were also the first wave of black educators in the DC Schools.
    They could be as tight as James Dean’s chinos, but in retrospect, the pride and discipline my generation learned from them was and is invaluable. We have clearly swung 360 degrees. But then, isn’t that yin yang swing part of this culture… Nouvelle cuisine
    or gorging yourself at the breakfast bar at Denny’s?
    Sorry. Just more ancient history here…. This stuff is as gone as Amelia Earhart’s plane.

  • Cameron-I think this city is closer to Detroit, Buffalo-places like that than we think. The percentages of folks living below the poverty level…I could go on…

  • Mmmm Denny’s…. (racial discrimination lawsuit notwithstanding)

  • people wake up!

    this very city requires developers of public land to be black! you can’t do it without a black guy on the team. qualified or not!

    all other things equal no blacks means no development deals

  • It’s true that the blacks who scared away whites from many neighborhoods in the late 50s and all through the 60s were oftentimes middle class. When my (white) parents mentioned the black family that first integrated our neighborhood, they said that they were doctors. Still some of the white residents were uneasy, until they got to know them. So much of racism is just unfamiliarity with the different race or culture.

  • things change over time…life is complex and interesting…every day is a gift and a blessing…

  • At first I thought the original post was from Reuben! But I see I’m wrong.

    I always feel a sense of being torn by these discussions. As a middle-class person with suburban roots (FFX in the hizzouse!) who made a conscious choice to move into the city and to Petworth, and who wouldn’t mind a Starbucks or two, I know that I fit the stereotypical image of a gentrifier. Heck, that website “Stuff White People Like?” I like ALL that stuff.

    But as a black woman, I also feel aligned with some of the older residents who may be bitter about being shoved out. I feel like I’m supposed to be all powerful with my money and my latte-sipping ways, but I’m also supposed to be a powerless victim of the Man. It’s a dizzying set of concepts to hold in one head.

    I don’t have too much useful to add, I guess. Just that it’s difficult to paint with a broad brush; my black neighbors who have lived in the neighborhood for decades haven’t been sitting back on their asses waiting for work to be done. They’ve tried to keep the neighborhood up and been rebuffed. That shitty Ga. Ave. Safeway is just an example that comes to mind — Safeway wanted to close that place and the neighborhood rallied to keep at least something there. Grudgingly, Safeway allowed it to stay…but now that the demographics of the neighborhood are changing, the company is all for expansion. Witnessing things like this can piss a person off.

    But it’s also true that not all (or even most, I bet) white folks move in and then want to shove all the black people out. Like most people, folks come in and want to live their lives, have nice neighbors and a lively neighborhood, and go about their business.

    I don’t doubt that there’s tension, but sometimes I wonder if it’s as black-and-white (heh) as these discussions sometimes paint it. I think there’s a lot of us minority “gentrifiers” out there, and sometimes I’d like to see a newspaper article (or even discussion thread) that reflects our POV. At least it would halt the same old tired race discussion, about how all whites and blacks secretly or not-so-secretly hate each other.

  • Christina: Write that article and the city paper or the post would be fools not to snatch it up – I’d love to read it!

  • I live on a very busy corner on the Hill (west of Lincoln Park; South of East Capitol St.). The man across the street from me has owned his home since the 40s; he gets weekly offers in the upper 6 figures (I’ve never been inside, but I’m guessing it hasn’t changed much since his wife passed in the 80s I think) but he stays. He figures he’s seen the neighborhood go through so many changes from safe, to unsafe and back again several times that he’s going to ride it out.

    My block is a pretty even mix of black and white – and old and new. Some people who owned here for years got out when the Hill was in rapid gentrification mode and made a great profit and never really looked back. Others are happy that the open air drug market that used to thrive at the end of the block is long gone and have stuck around.

    That said, about 3 years ago, I witnessed a white resident of my block make a U-Turn in the middle of the street, in front of a black man, with MD tags. The black man cursed and honked and yelled at the white guy for driving like an asshole. The white man screamed that this was HIS neighborhood and he’d make a U-Turn on HIS street if he chose. The black man screamed back, “Well, this used to be MY neighborhood, but I made a lot of money selling my house to one of YOUR dumb asses and got out and moved out to the suburbs. Now get the f*ck out of the middle of the road.”

    I had never thought of it like that. To the older man now happily ensconced in MD, he was living the dream. He got out of the city and sold to some dumb young fool looking for the “urban experience.” Gentrification allowed both kinds of people (by kinds I mean people with different sets of lifestyle preferences, nothing else about socio-economic status or race) to get what they wanted. It’s not all puppy dogs and daisies while it’s happening, and God knows this city can lay claim to one of the worst experiments in urban renewal America has ever seen in SW. But in some neighborhoods, and on some blocks, you end up with both the young, yuppie couples (only speaking for my neighborhood, this seems to be coming up on being 1/2 same sex and 1/2 hetero) with the 2.5 kids and golden retrievers, the old man on the corner, and in the middle the people who, like yourselves, were on the bleeding edge of renewing this neighborhood. (who, not to judge them, seem to be more racist than any of the rest of the different groups in the mix)

    This is sort of rambling, but I think my point is that the process has a lot more self selection by everyone involved than it sometimes seems. Also, the story about the two guys fighting about the U-Turn still makes me smile and I like to share it wherever appropriate, if only tangentially so.

  • Christina, thank you.

  • Good, so then we’re all in agreement that it would be a fun contest to design the no littering signs then…

  • The real danger with gentrification is the risk of just moving/pushing the “problematic or undesirable ” people from a community to somewhere else, because socially that is wrong. That is hiding the problem, not fixing it. I am all up for improving areas, and the betterment of neighborhoods and one should not try to create a mini suburbia in the city either. I say lets keep improving Petworth and CH not with whites or blacks but with education, manners, and the concern for others. That’s what society needs. Move here because you want urban life while preserving the the good, teaching the bad to be better, raising their life expectations, and keeping the character and culture of this area; don’t do it because you hope it would turn it into the next Gtown.

  • 1300blk, David, you’re both quite kind. I’m not sure if my feelings on the whole issue are settled enough for me to produce something coherent. When I hear people talking about “corner boys,” (like in some other post) I know that they are talking about people who look like me. My “family,” in a way. And yet, it’s not like I have no fear of “corner boys” myself.

    And then, at least for me, there’s a whole personal journey about being a black person growing up in an almost all-white environment and then making choices to be around my “people” but often feeling alien…eh. Too much confusion. 🙂

    A handful of years ago, the Post did run an editorial by a black yuppie who talked about how important it was for her to keep her neighborhood black. People. went. nuts. It was all over the news and the Internet, people saying how it was reverse racism and it would never be accepted if a white person were writing the same thing. I read something far more nuanced in her commentary…but I’m not anxious to live through such an experience myself, even on a small scale. You folks go nuts when someone writes about t-shirts, for heaven’s sake. 🙂

  • I was telling my mom recently about how so many people (whites) complain about the gunshots in my hood. And I was just saying how it is almost natural to me. But for people that are just now experiencing it for the first time in their 20’s it can be quite an experience. Two totaly different worlds. I have been places and someone started shooting and noone even shuddered.

    White people may never understand black culture. No other race may understand it. What’s up is down in the black community.

    A smart guy in the black community is thought of as acting white. Exercising is acting white. Eating healthy is what white people do. I have told other black people I shop at whole foods and they get up in arms. A stint in prison is not scorned in much of the black community. In fact, I recently heard a man in petworth talking about another guy fresh out of prison as if he was a legend. That I find is distinct to black culture.

    There is a rapper named Rick Ross that claims to have sold dope. He named himself after a real drug dealer. TMZ discovered Rick Ross (rapper) was actually a correctional officer in Miami. Rick Ross (rapper) vehemently denies it evn though there are the pictures to the contrary. The moral is here is a guy hanging on the idea of him being a drug dealer instead of a honest hardworking citizen. That only happens in the black community.

    The culture has been hijacked and corrupted. It may take forever to change that

  • Neener: Yeah, DC 40 years ago was a paradise, unless, of course, you found yourself on the wrong end of a fire hose, german shepherd, billy club, or police revolver. But seriously, why did young black men have to break the law and burn shit down? Couldn’t they have just taken tap lessons like those enlightened coloreds you admire so much?

    It’s funny you mention Pelecanos too because you come off like one of his stock characters: two dimensional, full of pointless dialog, angry, and pathetic.

  • Nate

    I’m not sure what you say is truly accurate. Drive through midddle america and you will find a lot of white “red necks” with the same views of life. It’s not about being black or white, it’s about education.

  • Rick Ross probably refers to the famous Freeway Ricky Ross, a Los Angeles crack kingpin brought down in the 90’s (I think) who was the street-level vendor for CIA smuggled coke. In strictly financial terms he was a business associate of Ollie North and the Iran/Contra folks, who sold coke in the US in addition to arms in Iran to fund their death squads in Central America. That’s your tax dollars at work… And that’s…. one to grow on.

  • I disagree profoundly, nate. People tend to see what matches their pre-existing biases, and ignore what doesn’t fit in with their worldview. I don’t doubt that you have seen exactly what you describe; I’m not denying your experiences. But I can tell you about the many black intellectual geeks I know who work out and shop at Whole Foods with little notice.

    I think there are problems, but some of them I think are “underclass” (I hate that word) problems. Around these parts, the underclass happens to be mostly black. So people think the problems are uniquely black.

    But in other part of the countries, the underclass is white. Or Native American. They are going through the same problems you describe — read “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie to read about a NA kid and what his life was like after he decided to go to school off the Rez.

    And, it’s not like poor white people have this unbelievable love for learning…why would the “elitist” charges hurled against Barack Obama actually be sticking among some populations if everyone just loved a smartypants? Hillary Clinton used that charge and it worked among among parts of her white, working class constituency. You think white women don’t have out-of-wedlock births? That there’s no family dysfunction? That petty criminals don’t exist?

    I just refuse to give into self-hatred. Not today, of all days, when I’m about to watch a black man take one of the biggest stages anyone can achieve in American life. I just refuse to believe that black people, unlike any other group of people in this country, are broken.

  • Nate: Idolizing criminals and giving approval to the criminal lifestyle isn’t exclusive to blacks at all, you ever hear of a feller named Jesse James? John Dillenger? Clyde Barrow? The criminal as folk hero isn’t an exclusively black or even American phenomenon (though we do loves our criminals)… the swashbuckling pirates, the dashing highwaymen, Robin Hood… the entire continent of Australia.

  • Chrisina, you hit the nail on the head! Thank you!

  • Look at the prevailing music in the black community. Rap music is on the whole very degrading. Look at the videos. Look at many of the movies in the black community.

    You can say it ain’t unique to black America all you want. There is a reason why there are more than 1MM black men in prison. And it ain’t solely due to racism.

    There is something wrong with the culture. When your most famous musicians brag about shooting, killing, robbing, going to prison, and dealing drugs something BAD is wrong.

    Jesse James was idolized. But robbing banks was not even close to being mainstream among white people. Misogynistic behavior, having babies you can’t afford, robbing, killing people is done by black people in disproportionate numbers. That ruins communities. Robbing banks does not ruin the fabric of a community.


  • you gotta be kidding me nate. as if all white music is moraled. look at brittany spears. she got 2 babies and her 16 year old sister does too. Look at tommy lee and any other rock musician that isnt the johnas brothers. its sex drugs rock and roll. They arent rocking out to songs called “starbucks and sodoku.”

  • I want to hug that dude.

  • Nate: “Robbing banks does not ruin the fabric of a community.”

    Hysterical. Easily the dumbest comment on this entry. Your “Stuff White People Like” view of black people and black culture is beyond hilarious. You make it sound as though
    the only famous black musicians in existence are rappers. If it weren’t for black America you wouldn’t have rap, rock, jazz, R&B, blues, funk and house. We are are responsible for nearly every single strain of mainstream pop music in existence today. And we continue to come up with something better each time. When white people started getting good at rock, we made rap.
    You must think that white people are inherently good or don’t have a culture that’s equally sick and twisted. Last I checked people of European descent were responsible for the Holocaust, colonialism and biological warfare.

    Get off your high horse, dunnie. It’s 2008. We all have shame.

    PS I don’t have any children.
    PPS I Have a Master’s degree from the George Washington University
    PPS The only only trouble I’ve ever had with cops is for skateboarding.

  • Anonymous,
    No other genre of music is as degrading and destructive as rap music. No other music can compare in terms of the lyrics.

  • “You can say it ain’t unique to black America all you want. There is a reason why there are more than 1MM black men in prison. And it ain’t solely due to racism.”

    Who said it was all racism? Because black people are disproportionately poor, it would stand to reason that some of the “underclass” problems that you describe would disproportionately affect black people. I don’t think there’s a problem with all men just because the vast majority of prisoners are men.

    And since when has robbing banks been mainstream among black people? “Our” *most* famous musicians are not just about robbing and thieving…just the musicians you prefer to use in your examples. Is Alicia Keys about robbing and thieving? Rihanna? Chris Brown? Ne-Yo? Again, you’re ignoring things that don’t fit into your preset mindview. There’s more to “black” music than the silly rap that black (and many, many white) kids listen to.

    (Nate, I think that you’re black because of other things you’ve said on this board. If you’re not, please ignore and excuse this next paragraph)

    Have you ever been around poor people who aren’t black? Because I’ve heard you singing this same tune, time and time again, on various threads. And part of me wonders if you hold fast to this notion that black people are failures because it makes you feel like you’re special — one of the few black men out there are worth a damn. You’re not the only black person I’ve heard talking like this, and I just have this feeling that it feeds into a subconscious sense of wanting to be exceptional.

    I’m not saying that black people can’t be assholes, just like any other group of people. But your insistence that they — WE — are at heart a part of a sick and diseased culture…how do you suppose we both escaped what should be an inevitable fate? I and my many black friends, and the people who I went to college with, and all the black folks who are just living normal, every day lives? If the culture is broken, if all black people want to pump out babies and sling rock and rob banks, how did you and I grow up healthy? And my siblings? And my friends? And my classmates? And my black co-workers?

    Without denying very real problems, I’d say that healthy, happy, NORMAL black people aren’t as rare as you’re portraying them to be. You need to start hanging out with more of them. We are out here. But you’re ignoring us.

  • “Anonymous,
    No other genre of music is as degrading and destructive as rap music. No other music can compare in terms of the lyrics.”

    You know there’s not just one such genre as “rap music.” There are MANY different kids of rap, many different kinds of artists, many different kinds of performers. Some of it is nasty. Some if it quite nice. JUST LIKE ANY OTHER TYPE OF MUSIC. If you want to bundle them all together and say that all rap is degrading and destructive, you can continue that inaccuracy, but it won’t make it true.

  • You know there’s not just one such genre as “rap music.” There are MANY different kids of rap, many different kinds of artists, many different kinds of performers.

    Ok I will qualify it. The most popular form of rap music is the most degrading form of music. Don’t get me wrong. I like even some of the more vulgar rap music. Although I have to admit that to the impressionable youth, this music is toxic. Even the Jay Z’s of the world say alot of very negative things. The rappers below have cumulatively sold more albums than most other rappers combined. All have awful R rated misogynistic videos and music.

    Jay Z
    Lil Wayne
    Lil Kim
    Dr. Dre
    T Pain
    Kanye West-very materialistic which drives much of the crime in black communities
    Rick Ross
    Fat Joe

  • My heavens.

    I don’t know where to start with that last comment, so I just won’t.

  • Nate: read up a little about the early 1930’s. For instance how is it that John Dillinger escaped so many times and was photographed more often than Clark Gable? These people were folk heroes to many Americans.

    The main reason J. Edgar Hoover was tasked with stamping out various outlaws was precisely because of their hero status among the depression-devastated unemployed and those that had lost their farms, homes, and businesses to the banks in the midwest especially. Songs were written about these guys, perhaps not as catchy as 50 Cent’s latest joint, but there you go.

    Another obvious example to consider is Al Capone, a sociopath responsible for more murder and mayhem than 100 SE crack dealers, who literally owned the mayor of the third largest city in the USA, openly spoke to the press about his crimes (“I’m just a businessman, giving the people what they want”), was nothing short of a celebrity — shaking hands with Charles Lindbergh when he arrived in Chicago after his famous flight and handing out autographs at Cubs games — and he was idolized by many of the poor people in depression-era Chicago. Capone’s image suffered after he was brought down — and a cynical person might say it suffered because he was brought down and proved mortal — but in the late ’20’s and early ’30’s he had throngs of admirers in the midwest alone.

    This sort of thing is not new at all… the only difference is that 50 Cent might have *once been* a small-time hood but Al Capone and Dilliger were always cold-blooded psychos.

  • ‘Bitches [presumably black women] Ain’t Shit But Hoes and Tricks’
    ‘So Hood’
    ‘Ain’t no fun…if the homies can’t have none.’
    ‘Tip Drill’
    ‘Chilling With My Bitch Today’
    ‘In Da Club’
    ‘Wouldn’t Get Far’
    ‘Smack That’
    ‘Hoes in The Club’
    ‘Hood 9igger’
    ‘I’m a Thug’
    ‘Ice Cream Man’
    ‘Swamp 9igga’
    ‘All About You’- Tupac “Every other city we go, I see the same hoes”

    Should I stop now or keep going on and on?

    I list these songs acknowledging that I like many of the songs listed. I used to have this debate with my dad growing up about this music. It didn’t affect me. But I can see how an impressionable teen would be affected.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Please cease Rap debate. It is for another time or another place. But it is not for this particular post. Thank you.

  • Okay, I couldn’t leave it alone. If rap music is tearing at the fabric of the community, nate, why do you continue to consume it? You’re just putting more money in the hands of the evildoers, by your reckoning. I don’t consume the misogynistic rap music because I prefer that my money sponsors artists who have a different message.

    My second question is, if you like some of those artists, then why aren’t you a gangbanger? Because their message is so powerful, according to your thoughts.

    Rap music, which again I must repeat is consumed and enjoyed by many non-black people, is not the cause of problems that have to do more with persistent “underclass” status. Some of it is nasty, a lot of it I don’t like (including, apparently, songs that *you* like.) But its such a simplistic “explanation” for a complex problem.

    Could you back up and look at my post of 5:12 p.m., though? I’d like to hear your thoughts on that if you feel like sharing them.

  • PoP, my apologies — we cross posted. My lip is zipped on rap!

  • Nate: You are makin’ me mad that you mention Lil’ Fuckin’Wayne and failed to show any love for H-Town. Fat Pat, Devon the Dude, Lil’ Flip, Willie D, Scarrrrrrface… C’mon, if’n we are going to talk about “vulgar” how can you leave out the home of DJ Screw the *real* dirty south?


  • Not to mention that the “bad” rap referenced by Nate is mostly bought by white kids. So it’s white culture too.

    But back to the gentrification discussion-I don’t think anyone has a problem with wanting people not to litter, and not to shoot each other.

    What I know some black people in the neighborhood don’t appreciate, and I know this because they tell me or I overhear it, what they don’t like is all the new, young white people coming in and expecting the area to magically turn into Cleveland Park or Friendship Heights overnight. They don’t like the idea that a lot of the newcomers think the corner barber shop or fried seafood place or corner market should disappear and be replaced with wine bars, yoga studios and high end clothing stores.

    I hear nice, friendly, hard working black folks talk to eachother on the bus all the time saying, can you believe such and such a block, remember so and so’s old store, now it’s all white, can you believe that, and they shake their heads.

    The new folks coming into the area, whether they like it or not or believe it or not, often come off as an invading army wanting to change everything and get rid of anyone who doesn’t want all the changes.

    You can work together to get rid of litter, violence and crime without completely gentrifying a neighborhood.

  • I can’t say anything better than the way Cristina has said it, so I’m not even going to try. I just want to tell her to remember this: there are many more people like you — like us — than you may realize. It’s just that too many of us are hiding, afraid that we’ll be criticized as “acting white” or being uppity. Until we all come out of the shadows, the forces of negativity and destruction will keep on keepin’ on.

  • Hi Petworthian!

    You know, I got over that whole fear of being told I was “acting white” when I got to college (I went to an HBCU.) You bet’ believe there were quite the number of geeks, dorks, and other raised-in-a-white-‘hood people out there. Along with black folks who were none of those things and didn’t care at all that I couldn’t and still can’t dance. It did me good.

    If someone wanted to get on me now about acting “white,” I honestly do believe I would laugh in their face. Trust me, I’m not passing. I think the person who needs to be told there are a lot of people out there like us is Nate.

    C’mon, white-acting black folk! Come out of the shadows! You know you’re out there, secretly laughing at Seinfeld, rolling your eyes at the latest Tyler Perry movie, enjoying some anime, listening to your Coldplay albums in the car with the windows rolled up. C’mon out, because my Mom believes I’ll never get married. 😉

  • And then there’s us honkey’s who think Tyler Perry is funny and Coldplay is the worst. Such a crazy crazy world…

  • Christina: I don’t think it’s just black folk that ought to be embarrassed about listening to Coldplay. 😉

  • I find these gentrification topics to be fairly useless. It gives people an opportunity to vent, anonymously, and the worst comes out. It’s not productive. Much easier than actually talking to your neighbors, though.

  • C’mon, white-acting black folk! Come out of the shadows! You know you’re out there, secretly laughing at Seinfeld, rolling your eyes at the latest Tyler Perry movie, enjoying some anime, listening to your Coldplay albums in the car with the windows rolled up. C’mon out, because my Mom believes I’ll never get married.


    I’m hanging out with my friends and their friends and one of the guys comes up to me and says, and this is true,

    “So You got married, huh? I think your wife is really great, I’ve never met anyone like her before… Do you know any single women?”

    And I’m shocked because let’s face it, not that many black men ask white guys to try to set them up and I’m sort of thinking here and I ask him, “So what’s your ideal woman?”

    “Oh I’m cool with anything, all she has to be is black and like to play dungeons and dragons.”

    100% true. I told him to settle for a proud black woman who liked to play MMORGs and I gave his email to a friend of mine who mentored this woman’s computer thing at Howard.

    Christina… oh hell you don’t want to meet this guy either.

  • christina is right. when i said something bad about tyler perry at the barber shop -i got my walking papers from the race right then and there.. not to mentioning having gone to school in vermont.. and yes christina-i was double dipping. i did write the post…

  • Aha! I know what you “sound” like, reuben.

    Neener, I am rolling…so, so funny. I admit that your acquaintance might have been trying to swim in a relatively shallow pool. But I and my X-Men comics am proof that there’s a few sci-fi chicks out there.

    There’s another blog I read, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic, and he loves him some D&D.

  • Bleh — *are* proof, not AM proof.

  • I don’t doubt that there’s tension, but sometimes I wonder if it’s as black-and-white (heh) as these discussions sometimes paint it. I think there’s a lot of us minority “gentrifiers” out there, and sometimes I’d like to see a newspaper article (or even discussion thread) that reflects our POV. At least it would halt the same old tired race discussion, about how all whites and blacks secretly or not-so-secretly hate each other.

    There is one family on my block that causes all the problems. about 4 years ago the young drug dealer is arguing with one of the elderly women on our block and I’m like BOOM right there to make sure he’s not causing trouble and she’s making him listen about the African-American doctor who bought the house across from her and how proud she is to see “one of us” as a doctor. And the drug dealer kid sputters, “One of US? HE ALREADY WHITE!”

    Which is one of the truly most bizarre sentences I ever heard, particularly with the bad grammar. already?

    That doctor? He lasted here about 5 years before he moved.

    So I figure that over all, no matter what happens, no matter what changes, no matter who gets elected, there are people who will come up with an excuse no matter what. And I think after all the time I’ve been here that I’ve been the target just one too many times and I snapped. Some days I feel really bad about snapping and other days I am furious about getting blamed by some kid who sits down from 10am to 10pm on his steps.

    I read everything that DC Dire Wolf has written and I’ve defended him consistently when people call him a troll. But I am reminded that when I joined my son’s PTA that while there were African-American teachers and administrators on the PTA there was only one single African-American parent on the PTA. According to the school statistics, 50% of the white parents in the school were on the PTA board or were room parents and only one single African-American parent was on the PTA. I’m not PO’d about it, but when DCDW wrote that African-Americans are getting pushed out, I really have to challenge him: Pushed out of what??? Pushed out of the PTA? They’re remarkably missing from the PTA! Pushed out of the Community Centers? They are remarkably missing from community center events! Pushed out of National Night Out? There were 100% minority cops there with 100% white kids! Where were even the Latin kids to meet the African-American police? Pushed out of the businesses? I pay one guy to wash my car, but I’d easily pay people to repair things around my house, but where are the black-owned companies doing home repairs? Why do I have to know how to speak spanish to get windows installed?

    And yet when I was a kid, when I was a kid in the 1970s? The African-American families in our suburban neighborhood were out there in the boy scouts, in the schools, in the parades, doing ALL the home repair canvassing, making themselves seen, heard, understood and getting paid. I grew up with people who refused to be marginalized or pushed out. I think I want to go live with them again. This just ain’t right.

  • I feel you, Neener. What you’re talking about is not racist — it’s something far more subtle and complex. You’re talking about the draining of the black middle class. And I’m not going to beat up folks about that because the reason I grew up in Fairfax is because my parents made a decision to live where the good schools are.

    I really do believe that the level of disengagement you talk about is driven by issues other than race — not to take race out of the equation, but when you come from generations of dysfunction and disengagement, it just builds and builds and builds.

    And part of the problem with *some* people is a victim mentality. I’m not ashamed or afraid to say it. It’s there, it’s real, it’s a problem. But you know, a lot of the things you’re talking about are the debates that black people have within the “family” all the time. People oohed and aahed over Bill Cosby and Barack O. “speaking truth to power,” but they aren’t saying anything I haven’t heard from my Daddy years ago.

    As long as the middle class of all races flees DC as soon as their kids get school-aged, I don’t know how much can change.

    Thanks for sharing your stories. I know in this venue it’s hard to get subtle points across, so I appreciate you taking the time to tell your POV.

  • On my block, there is an African-American dude who lives down the street that does a lot of handyman work, yard work, roofing work. Everyone knows him, he’s a nice guy, and I hire him from time to time. I’m sure he’d do windows too.

    The house on the corner is being renovated, not sure if it’s the owner or not, but the whole work crew consists of two black men, there every day working hard.

    House next to mine is being renovated by the owner, a black man who owns a barber shop around the corner.

    I mention these things to refute neener’s argument that black folks just want to sit on their steps all day around here.

  • Cristina,
    A black woman who likes sci-fi? Dayyyuummm — I’d marry you on that basis alone if I wasn’t already hitched.

  • Uh, what’s Coldplay?

  • Coldplay is a bad band. They do not rock like sLaYeR…

  • I agree entirely with the whole post by DCDireWolf at 6:03pm. I also agree with the feelings of the residents that he talks about in the post, and I am one of those new (6 yrs) white residents. However much I detest the litter, I also could not care less about a wine bar, yoga, sushi, or any of that stuff. None of it’s bad but it just seems so out of the Petworth universe. People here have been missing a sit-down restaurant forever, and all some new people can talk about is wine bars and sushi? Come on. Let’s take it a little easier than that, huh?

    What’s worse is I’m afraid that simply my outward appearance, to those who don’t know me, gets me automatically lumped in with that group that some characterize as “an invading army wanting to change everything.” That distresses me much.

  • Like most people, I too don’t like to be judged by my appearance or race, religion, ethnicity, etc. People assume I’m a new resident to Petworth because I’m white. We moved here around 20 years ago when we were thought to be urban pioneer types. I had white “friends” back in the day whose husbands wouldn’t let them leave Bethesda and drive to DC and come to visit me. When we chose to come here, we made a concscious choice to live in a mostly black (though not always historically black) area because we believed in integration. People usually thought that integration meant black people coming to mostly white neighborhoods. We changed it up a little and moved on a street that was almost all black and were welcomed as if it was no big deal. People also think because I’m white in DC that I have money. Of course when they see my modest car, they change their minds. And because of my appearance, people don’t think I speak or undestand Spanish. But I do.

  • saf

    Huh – Anon just above, the difference between us is that I don’t speak Spanish.

  • Hi — I’m responding to the originial poster’s 1st comment:

    “I can’t say I love DC- my 50 years here notwithstanding-but I think that many of your readers ( and you) are a big part of this city’s future. I hope someone wants to stay and make it better. It is truly crippled now.”

    The above comment shows hope, compasssion as well as frustration. I have been through all of these emotions, and more.

    I’ve lived in DC for 35 years, the last year and a half in Petworth on the 3700 Block of 9th Street. It has been a nightmare living on this particular block in Petworth, and my husband and I are looking to move out of the City as well.

    Besides the usual drug dealing, public drinking, open sex in cars and behind our buildng, trash, etc. there has been several nuisance properties/homes where these particular families feel that they can continue to “own the street” with absolutely no regard/respect for the rest of the hard working families living here. There is a constant “party” at one particular house with up to 50 people milling around the front of the property and/or sitting on their porch.

    Just as an example, last night there were onging physical fights, screaming, breaking bottles, drug use, etc. etc. It’s impossible to sleep. And then when they finally go home and/or quiet down, it’s morning, and then the kids on extremely loud scouters (or whatever they are called) start drag racing up and down the street all day long.

    I’ve probably only called 911 five times since we have lived here (and the police have always been very responspive) — I didn’t call last night. Why? Because I’ve been targeted as “the bitch that calls 911”. (I’ve been chased up to my door, rocks thrown at our windows and had teenage girls and boys try and intimidate me when I’m coming home from the metro and/or safeway.

    I really feel that one’s personal experience really has to do with the street that they live on. So while my husband and I are moving, I’d like to quote once again the original poster’s hopeful and kind comment:

    “I can’t say I love DC- my 50 years here notwithstanding-but I think that many of your readers ( and you) are a big part of this city’s future. I hope someone wants to stay and make it better. It is truly crippled now.”

    Maggie in Petworth

  • I feel that your remarks, Maggie, deserve a decent, sympathetic reply. So here goes, from a longtime Petworth resident. You should move to another street, area, wherever you find because no one should have to live like this. Not being able to sleep, having your personal safety threatened, being afraid to call the police because these criminals know it’s you… this is terrible. I am trying to envision where your block is. I am not interested in what pathetic little social pathologies cause people to live and act in the way you described. But their behaviors, as you say, demonstrate no regard for decent, hard-working neighbors. I hope this trash gets locked up as they appear to be engaged in illegal, criminal activities. I don’t want to agitate to make a neighborhood better or worse. I want to live my life in my house and yard with my family, go to work, pay taxes, obey the laws and live and let live in an area with people from different backgrounds (I’m so sick of the word diverse). I am not a neighborhood activist, but I love Petworth. I am blessed that we have had good relations with our neighbors, most all of them a different race than I am, which is kind of irrelevant. But if I had similar experiences as those described above, I too would get out. Reading about this is so distressing. May God bless and protect you and your family, and get you a buyer for your house. Don’t feel guilty for one single moment.

  • Maggie- I am sorry for your troubles. I, too, have the noise problems, and am considered the snitch who calls the po-po on the Mike Vick wannabe who lives around the corner. The bumper crop of sociopaths in this city doesn’t help my general disposition-but the bottom line is that I’ve just been here too long.

  • You do indeed need to get out Maggie, you didn’t do anything wrong and shouldn’t accept the punishment of living in such a place. Remember the wise old Kenny Rogers: got to know when to hold, know when to fold em….

    I’d be curious whether you scouted your block before moving there. I did several days and nights of surveillance and walk-arounds in my area to get a feel for it. I was happy by what I saw and moved in, and that scouting really paid off. Many blocks in the city are basically abandoned to the real local power: unemployed and violent people, with nothing but time on their hands and numerous children raised as scavenging dogs. They have the most influence on your block. Unfortunately that puts the burden on you to become the local driver of city administration, and you then need to ride herd on a dozen other lazy people who don’t see a reason to do their job. In many places there’d be a local government official who did that, but in DC it often falls on citizens. The key thing is, do you have the time for that, and do you see the reason? If life improves greatly via a simple move, abandoning the ship is what you need to do. Unless you’re a glutton for punishment. I know its tough to quit, but again, remember Kenny!

    Some will respond with ‘that is why DC is always so bad, and it takes a village.’ To hell with that, it takes government folks doing their job in the most minimal sense, and backed by armed authority. Until we all realize that then the lazy fools of will simply continue to take advantage of our collective sentimentality.

    Of course now that I think of it I am a self appointed facility manager for Takoma Rec Center, who’s paid managers are possibly blind and illiterate. And I plan to move away ASAP given I’ve hit my quota of death threats. Ahh dc… Our license plates should read: The Welfare State.

  • I should mention that when I moved to DC the apt I rented was near some bad kids, but otherwise was fine with minimal disruptions to my post-college life. When I bought my house I drove around and talked to my new neighbors and they lied to me. I never saw 6 houses where people stood around drinking, I never saw the two adult crazy people, I never saw the white bigoted 60 year old hippies who would get all up in my business whenever I didn’t yell at them to get off my property.

    Now. Hippes are approaching 70 and much more mellow. 5 of the 6 families have moved off the block when their landlord or grandmother sold the property. There are no more block parties, but no more impromptu parties either.

    But what DID happen is that the troublesome kids I mentioned are no longer 12 or 13, they’re 25-30 and they’re back from Iraq. If anyone thinks that I should have prepared myself for problems with this family’s bad kids growing up, a couple of them joining the army and coming back from Iraq as veterans and sitting on their porch dealing drugs? Clinton was president when I bought my house! Come ON! I thought for sure by now and with the Target open, the neighborhood would be 90% lawyers. I thought for sure that they would have lost that house by now – it shows up as pre-foreclosure constantly, but they appear to rectify the mortgage. I mean, all the other people lost their houses.

    I call 911 and/or our Lieutenant at least twice a week. I have a work cell phone not in my name so the guys in the crew still talk to me every week or so. They don’t know that when they tell me they’re equipped to defend themselves against another crew that I relay that information right to the Lieutenant. Nobody has ever targeted me because they think I’m “Cool.” Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.” Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

    So don’t blame the victim. Things can change.

  • What if POP created a different topic to help create an anti-crime slogan that could be slapped everywhere on a sticker. Something like “I call the police, I’ve called the police on you.” Something cooler than Stop Snitching, you know? I’ve seen the guys on the street run and hide, scared sh*tless when the cops pull up. These are not brave people, they’re petrified of houses “turning over” and people going to work in suits and ties.

  • I don’t get the part above, Neener, about the aging and bigoted hippies. I guess I’m lucky. Since I’ve lived in Petworth, there has been no drug dealing so close to me that I’ve been faced with the dilemma of calling the cops or not, knowing the dealers would bet on me being the caller.

  • saf

    The dealers know I call. They also know that at least 6 other people on this block call – used to be more, but we’re losing older folks.

    They stay away from this block.

  • saf-you are fortunate that other people call… its hard when something onerous is happening, and one’s fellow “neighbors” just kinda look at you with a blank expression. or as if you’d shot a head of state

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