Baker on Being an Endangered Species (By Danny Harris)


Danny Harris is a DC-based photographer, DJ, and collector of stories. In September, he launched People’s District, a blog that tells a people’s history of DC by sharing the stories and images of its residents. Every day, People’s District presents a different Washingtonian sharing his or her insights on everything from Go Go music to homelessness to fashion to politics. You can read his previous columns here.

Ed. Note: This story has been cross posted at People’s District but I found this perspective to be very powerful and certainly worth sharing and discussing.

“I’m 76-years-old. I was born in this neighborhood and lived here all of my life. I’ve seen a lot of changes on H Street, some for the better and some for the worse. But, I have lived with them. I just go with the flow because I know I can’t do nothing about it.

“In my days, I’ve seen a lot of good changes, but a lot of wrong changes too, especially now. I’ve seen people forced out of their homes so others can move in. Since they rebuilt H Street, we basically lost our rights and now we have to fight for them. And why? We grew up here. Basically, everybody here is struggling, except the owners of those establishments on H Street.

“These clubs, restaurants, and places for carry out, they don’t help the neighborhood at all. They should have opened restaurants where anyone can enter, a place that fits the old and the new. But, it’s not like that, we can’t afford these places. You know what I’m saying?

“And, the police are coming around all of the time now that these places are here and harassing us. We ain’t doing nothing but hanging out, been doing that for 30-40 years with no problems. We around every day, some of us work and some of us don’t, but we don’t bother nobody.

“At night time, the streets are flooded with nothing but white people. I guess we get our time during the day and they get their time at night, except that we get harassed during the day by the police, too. At night, I go in the house and let them enjoy the street. If I am out here at night as a black man, I am like an endangered species. It don’t bother me, but that is the change that I see.”

Read more about the development of H Street NE here.

76 Comment

  • excellent. Peoples District needs to win some blog awards if it hasn’t already.

  • If he was there for 76 years, he’d know it was historically an integrated neighborhood, not a black one. That’s only been the case since the businesses were burnt down in 1968.

    But yes- it is a great feature. It’s great to see peoples perspectives on things. Keep ’em comin!

  • beautifully told, thank you. i went back and read most of the previous posts on this blog. what a find!

  • Dude’s a natty dresser.

  • somebody who actually says what all of us gentrifiers believe the longtime locals think.

  • Sad story, too bad it’s all BS. H street wasn’t integrated until the 1950s.

    “We ain’t doing nothing but hanging out, been doing that for 30-40 years with no problems. We around every day, some of us work and some of us don’t, but we don’t bother nobody.”

    Really? How about all the hoodlums that call your hood home and rampage across the city? Revisionism at work…

  • col hts dude would it hurt you to take baker’s story at face value?

  • I just hope people are mature enough to realize that this gentleman doesn’t speak for every single long-time resident and certainly not for all black males in the area.

    I am an African-American male who enjoys H Street morning, noon, night, seven days a week. And while I can’t say all my interactions with cops have been positive, I have not felt “harassed”. However, i think that has more to do with the fact that I don’t think it’s ok to just “hang-out” on the corner all day.

  • I’ve heard this a lot in the past 18 months, particularly as the economy has soured. Simply put, I flatly refuse to be made to feel guilty for living where I do. I work hard, I pay taxes, I contribute to the economy. If that’s not good enough, if all of that means nothing because I’m white, then the real racist is you. Not me.

  • I did enjoy the story and his POV. I think its nice to hang out and interact…regardless of age or job status. And what a great way to learn the history. To me this is the greatest pleasure.

    Its just a shame that there are some people who really don’t want to do anything all day and night except go to the liquor store first thing in the morning and drink themselves drunk not at home but out in the streets or better yet, on your stoop…when that happens then it becomes an issue. If the definition of “harassment” from the police is viewed as having to talk to the same individuals again and again with warnings. So be it. Let it sink in that bad behavior is bad behavior.

  • The corner is, and it was, and it always will be the poor man’s lounge. It’s where a man wants to be on a hot summers night. It’s cheaper than a bar, you catch a nice breeze and you watch the girls go by.

  • Gentrification has its price. People can rationalize it any way they choose, but it is what it is.

  • JCM – You do have a point.

  • Thanks Chris at 12:17. That explains in much better language the anger I was hearing.

    At age 76 my father got up every morning and went to work for 4 hours a day. At age 76 my mother got up every morning and volunteered at a daycare.

    This guy wants to hang out on the street? How about “NO!”

  • “Watching the girls go by” equals street harassment.

  • A friend of mine bought a HUD house in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle in the early 70s – when the Boeing layoffs nearly spelt doom for the city. That neighborhood had been 100% white till the European immigrant communities left for the new suburbs and it became a majority black neighborhood.
    During her first month on the block and elderly black man introduced himself saying the two should meet since he was the fist black face on the block and now she was the first white face.
    I think gentrifiers and long-time residents can really learn to get along. Talk to your neighbor. If you are new to the street chances are the older residents can fill you in on what to watch out for and on the history of your new home.
    Long-time residents should also appreciate the new vitality and rising home values that new residents bring. Its a give and take – not a perfect or ideal releationship but if you can respect eachother and what each brings to the table there is no reason why everyone can’t get along.
    The guy on the corner can tell you a lot about the neighborhood – take the time to listen and then share your story – weave it into the greater story of the block/neighborhood and the city.
    Without that soul and depth – H street will just become another Adams Morgan.

  • Hey! Gratuitous dis on Adams Morgan!

  • H Street has that weird destination vibe too. Bus loads of young, white kids pour in three nights a week, then pour out when the bars close. They don’t have any interaction with the actual community or neighborhood, they just go from the shuttle bus or their cars to the clubs/bars, then back again to wherever they live. You see crowds of white, twenty-somethings right outside the bars smoking or waiting for their ride, and the frowning older, black folks in the shadows. It’s very striking if you stop to examine it.

  • I didn’t notice that there is an empty liquor bottle in that picture initially. wtf? How is somone suppossed to take this pov/argument seriously?

  • Neener: chill out, he’s making a “Wire” reference. It’s from a pretty sweet monologue, actually.

  • Interesting – and frustrating perspective. “These clubs, restaurants, and places for carry out, they don’t help the neighborhood at all. They should have opened restaurants where anyone can enter, a place that fits the old and the new. ”

    So who is this “they?” They who were around for 30-40 years before the evil “gentrifiers” came in? They who “just go with the flow because they can’t do nothing about it?”

    Ben Ali (and lots of others) did something about it.

    I don’t actually have a problem with corner old men. (As long as they don’t piss in my window wells.) Sitting around drinking all day is nice work if you can get it – just quit whining. Does anyone ever consider that the drug profits that came into DC during the 80s and 90s could probably have bought every single property in the city? And wait – I am not implying that all poor areas are just wasteland pits of drug dealing.

    I will even make an argument in favor of disenfranchised groups using crime as a stepping stone to legitimate power and wealth i.e. the Kennedys. The problem in DC is that criminal profits have gone toward Rolexes and Hennessy, not buying property and establishing businesses.

  • I love some of the perspectives of long-term residents on N Capitol Hill and around H Street, but this one is sure full of a lot of BS. Lost rights? Folks forced from homes? Come on — the laws haven’t changed –just loitering is legal– and no one is forced from a home without either a failure to pay their mortgage or the excessive use of the house for drug activity. As for the streets full of white people line, that is not true, racist, and, of course, would not be the case if he didn’t use the presence of white people as a basis to stay away.

  • VOR – your post at 12:46 is true. It is kinda like the guys in Michigan who lost their factory jobs and have nothing to do. They lost and disoriented. Probably a lot like this guy, with the great exception that people with more money are coming to their community to spend money.

    Seems like the class and racial aspects really make it tough, but even in Michigan there would bound to be friction…

  • Andy(2): I really enjoyed reading that story!

  • “I don’t think it’s ok to just “hang-out” on the corner all day”
    Actually, it is, unless you can point to some law against generalized loitering in DC. I don’t think that there is such a law. If there is, it is not and will not be enforced.
    Personally, I could care less whether someone hangs out on a corner all day. As long as they are not actively bothering me or anyone else. And by “actively bothering” I mean harassing. I don’t mean the generalized bother some people feel when they look at someone and think that their neighborhood would look so much better if people like that were not around all the time. Where I grew up in NYC store owners encouraged people they knew from the neighborhood to hang outside of their stores because it discouraged criminal activity – too many friendly witnesses. I’ll bet this gentleman dates from a time when the merchants and residents were much less threatened by his presence.
    It’s interesting that no one has focused on what seems to be his main complaint – that new businesses are built that the old residents can’t afford. Look back at the recent thread on the IHOP coming to CH. How many people were up in arms or fearful that the place would become a hangout for the “neighborhood types.” As if it’s inconceivable that someone would build a business in CH that a low or moderate income resident could actually afford to patronize. I was at the mall this Saturday. I drove by Pho 14. Striking contrast between its patrons and the patrons of the latino chicken place next door. Personally, I think the neighborhood benefits from having both. I don’t think that the only eating establishments should be relatively expensive sit down places with specialized ethnic food. Or coffee shops that charge $5 for a coffee drink. But that’s just me.

  • “At night time, the streets are flooded with nothing but white people.”

    Can you imagine a white dude getting away with saying the same thing about black people? Me neither.

  • The fact that HE HAS AN EMPTY BOTTLE OF BOOZE RIGHT NEXT TO HIM is absolutely hilarious. Almost makes you wonder if this piece was published tongue in cheek. Sorry folks, public consumption of alcohol is illegal in DC.

  • neener, “watching the girls go by” does not equal street harassment.

    NAB, I was indeed quoting the Wire, and that is an awesome monologue. Part of its awesome-ness comes from the fact that it’s the truth.

    WDC, lots of people get forced from their homes due to gentrification. Many people are renters, and can’t afford increased rents. Some are homeowners who can’t afford increased property taxes. Either way, your claim is 100% wrong. And if you don’t think H St is full of white people at night, I’m going to guess you’ve never been there.

    I’m always amazed by the lack of empathy shown by some PoP commenters. Watching your neighborhood change quickly around you can be scary and disorienting for anyone, white or black, rich or poor.

  • H St. has a whole array of dining options everything from Popeyes to Horace and Dickies to probably a dozen or more carry outs as well as places like Granville Moore’s and Sticky Rice.

    I respect anybody’s right to an opinion and it is instructive to see it posted here, but this man strikes me as being a racist, pure and simple.

    He is no different in this manner from my grandfather who complains that his doctors have Arab names. Hopefully they will both be the last generation to harbor those kinds of sentiments.

  • This story is racist BS about “whitey” coming in and ruining the hood, with his increased property values, improved schools, and infrastructure expansions . I look forward to the day this “endangered species” is extinct. You think POP would post a story about an old white guy sitting on a corner complaining about all the black folk coming into his neighborhood he’s lived in for the last 40 years and ruining it? No. But because it’s the evil of “gentrification” then you can rail against it all you want. It’s real simple. As property becomes more desirable then it’s value increases, if you can’t pay for that increase, you have to move away. Sorry. It’s not race, it’s economics.

    In my 2 years on H street I have never encountered this friction. I call BS.

  • Let’s keep in mind that there’s more than one side to this story. Some long-term residents are making out quite well. I’m sorry that others are not making out as well.

    Rents go up for a variety of reasons. Maybe the building was sold at a high price, and the new owner needs to raise rent to make the mortgage payments. Maybe the owner needs to send a child to college. Maybe the owner is greedy. Regardless, we live in a free country. He or she has the right to charge for rent what the market can bear (unless otherwise specified in the lease).

    If you want to argue that a property-owner does not have the right to charge what the market can bear, then you should also argue that long-term residents who own their homes should not be able to sell their unimproved rowhouse fixer-upper to so-called new-comers for $400,000. If one has the right to sell at market rate then the other should also have the right.

    Life will always have winners and losers. Don’t complain. Do what you need to do to make sure you and your loved ones end up winners.

  • I think everyone is losing a little perspective on the man’s words and refusing to look at the situation through his eyes.

    This is a dude who has seen tumultuous changes in his neighborhood and way of life in his 76 years. He comes from a time when blacks were unquestionably NOT ALLOWED in establishments run by whites. I don’t think anyone can judge his views until you imagine yourself in a world were whites would spit on your shoes just because your skin is a different color than theirs. I don’t think you can blame someone who grew up in that world for feeling a little out of place when the streets he grew up on are now filled with white faces.

    Yes, it’s a different world. H street, and DC proper are different places now. But that doesn’t change the fact that his world view was formed in a different time. And that time really wasn’t all that long ago. He’s not basing his words from hearsay, he’s basing them on personal experience.

    Is it racist? Maybe. But you can’t just wave your hand at it and pretend it doesn’t exist. He’s not alone. There’s a generation of people STILL ALIVE who grew up in that racial climate. And YES, their views on gentrification and on race are not going to be the same as yours. They can’t take off those glasses and pretend those things didn’t happen to them.

    I’m not defending him or his POV. I don’t think he’s right. But I do think he’s seen way more in 76 years than I have in my 26, and I don’t think it’s OK to just call him racist and move on with your day just because you don’t like his opinion.

  • The storyteller’s overt racism, and empty liquor bottle next to him as he sits there in the tree box tell me all I need to know about him, and his perspective.

  • “Does anyone ever consider that the drug profits that came into DC during the 80s and 90s could probably have bought every single property in the city? And wait – I am not implying that all poor areas are just wasteland pits of drug dealing”

    Who do you think accrued those drug profits? Surely not Rayful Edmunds and the like. Remember, Rayful, the most notorious drug dealer in DC, went to prison in his early 20’s. He was not around long enough to amass much money. The people that did make the money are still making it. They just happen to be faceless. Nameless.

  • About people “being forced from their homes” because of gentrification.

    Although long-time renters may develop sentimental attachments to the homes they rent and the neighborhoods they rent in, these are not “their” homes, they are owned by the landlords, and the renters have no right to live in them past their lease term. If renters are afraid of rents going up past what they can pay in the future, there is nothing stopping them from negotiating a much longer term of lease than 1 or 2 years.

    I have more sympathy for people who own their homes and have trouble paying increases in property taxes as their neighborhood becomes more desirable. However, these home owners can always try to challenge increased assessments. I have a hard time believing that there are droves of people who are being forced to sell homes that they have lived in (and presumably paid off a mortgage on) for 30+ years because their property taxes increased by 1-2k per year, though I’m sure it’s true in a tiny percentage. But even these people are not out of luck completely. If their property taxes are going up because their home is in a much more desirable neighborhood, then a sale of it, even in this depressed overall marketplace, is probably going to net them a nice windfall of appreciation.

    And put me in the camp who is not ok with people hanging out on the corner all day doing nothing. It would be fine if people who did that were actually not harassing others, or drinking, or littering, or generally causing problems, but it seems to be that is almost never, or actually never the case. The picture here says it all, empty liquor bottle right next to the guy.


  • Gentrifiers will bend over backwards to justify their own racism and greed. The comments here are not surprising.

  • I bought a home near H St NE 4 + years ago and have no problem calling myself a gentrifier. Did I want to buy there – no, not necessarily. However, with all the new bars/restaurants/development on H, I am glad that I did.

    Put me down for a homeowner who does NOT want people hanging out on corners /stoops/porches, with or without an empty bottle, all day. It is an eye sore and does nothing for my property value.

  • Ugh, the way this is worded I really don’t care about him and his point of view…and I can tell you it’s not just “new” or white residents that have had too much of this. No one wants an alcoholic hanging out on their block, spending all day loitering on the street with nothing better to do. I’m sure he’s been pissing off his neighbors for 30-40 years. Trying to make this a thing about race is just his pathetic excuse–honestly waking up to the fact that others are tired of his shite could be the best thing this guy ever does for himself!!

  • @Anonymous October 19th, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    You say:

    “Gentrifiers will bend over backwards to justify their own racism and greed. The comments here are not surprising.”

    I welcome an open dialogue, and I would like to hear more of your opinion, but you’ll have to be more specific. Who is bending over backwards to justify racism? Which comments are racist?

    If you’re going to start name-calling, will you please present more facts to support your argument.

  • Life has passed this alchoholic by and now he’s just a bitter old man (actually he’s not that old, but same concept). All other factors are secondary.

  • Isotopor, DC wont let property taxes rise that much on folks who’ve owned homes for a long time. There are senior citizens discounts and there are restrictions on how much the taxable value can be raised on somone who owned the home for the prior year. The Assessment Cap currently provides that a property may not be taxed on more than a 10 percent increase in the property’s assessed value each year. For example, one of my neighbors place is assessed as valued at $600K, but after homestead, senior citizens, and the assessment cap, is only taxed on $150K of it.

  • Hmm, I am sympathetic to people struggling with gentrification and I would be interested in hearing some nuanced perspectives on neighborhood change from long-time residents, but this was just full of big exaggerations, statements without any examples or clarification behind them, and racially divisive language.

  • If the neighborhood had stopped butchering itself with gang violence, the city may have been more affable to working with them to create a unified vision for the way ahead. Look at Shaw. Why would the city be interested in keeping the neighborhood ‘as is’ when ‘as is’ means it must dedicate scare police resources 24/7 to the neighborhood? Much better to encourage revenue positive folks to come in – you know, the ones who pay taxes and dont eat up social services.

    Like it or not, cities are changing for the better and if anything, America is behind the times. In most of the developed world, The suburbs are not desirable, while the cities are.

    @Anonymous 2:17 – I’m not trying to justify anything. I gentrified a small part of Shaw by buying a condo there and sprucing up the garden across the street. Now, kids don’t get condoms stuck to their shoes when they play on the sidewalks. I’m with ShawRes: I don’t need to apologize for restoring a small bit of vitality to a beautiful, historic city by contributing to a community garden, volunteering, and participating in the local economy.

  • I have a very strong opinion about the issues being discussed in this thread!!!

  • The anti gentrification movement is a Barry-ism that’s focused on fighting any way possible to allow poor black people to hold their grip on certain neighborhoods. I say that understanding both that it sucks to be left behind by economic momentum and that it’s an entirely bigoted view of the world that as soon as white people move in, black people are dispossessed. The people that lived in this neighborhood had 10-20-30 years to fix it up, buy into it, and make it economically viable. Instead you have empty shop fronts, run down buildings, and liquor stores. Sorry, that is not how life works. There are plenty of less expensive places in the country to move to if you don’t want to help contribute.

  • @lovernotahater: I think my statement about rising property taxes was unclear. What I meant to say was a yearly property tax bill rising $1-2k for a single year (with the total increase coming in one year or in small increments over several years). I did not mean to infer that property taxes were rising by $1-2k every year, that indeed would be too much for most people to handle, and that is not happening. I think you’re point about senior credits, rate increase ceilings, homestead caps, etc… makes it clear that very few homeowners are really being forced to sell their homes because they can’t pay their property taxes, which is what I suspected was the case.

  • If we replace a bunch of old drunks hanging out on the corner with a bunch of young drunks driving in from wherever and this place turns into adam’s morgan all over again, it’s not going to be much of an improvement. I grew up in Adam’s Morgan in the 80’s and 90’s and I hate what it’s become.

  • If you want to be treated with respect, stop pissing in my yard and harassing my wife as she walks to the metro each day to work… you know, she actually works instead of collecting checks from the govt that we are forced to pay for as you drink or worse at your local ‘corner hangout’.

  • Every person is entitled to an opinion and my sense is that People’s District’s goal is to simply collect these stories and share them. Whatever one thinks of Baker, I would imagine that many people reading this blog rarely get to hear stories like his firsthand. I applaud People’s District and PoP for making these accessible to all of us.

  • Now, I agree that this man may not be the best spokesman for African-American life on H St, but we should respect the fact that he is living in a neighborhood that is changing in a way that, to me, is not holding on to the fabric of how most people in and around H St live.

    While I love the restaurants opening up on the street, $20 for an entree in a place like H Street Country Club is a lot for most people. For those in the neighborhood, both on and off the corner, this is a huge price jump over the carry out and fast food that traditionally served as the only culinary options in the past.

  • “The people that lived in this neighborhood had 10-20-30 years to fix it up, buy into it, and make it economically viable.”
    Your point assumes that the people that lived in this neighborhood did not make any efforts to fix up the neighborhood. I think you are wrong. Many residents of these communities have been clamoring for development while being responsible homeowners only to receive nothing from the city until a bunch of new businesses arrived that were largely patronized by people who don’t live in the community. That’s part of the resentment that longtime residents have – that the City only starts paying attention when the complaints are not just coming from poor or working class residents. Howard University Hospital provides emergency services to a predominantly poor and working class clientele. No one paid much attention to the quality of that service until a robbery victim from upper NW mistakenly ended up in the hospital (a City ambulance was called rather than the private ambulance that typically services this area and avoids Howard like the plague) and died in part because of mistakes by the hospital. Instead of making sure that every hospital provides quality care, you have your own ambulance service that takes you to the good hospital.
    These threads invariably devolve into the evil gentrifiers versus the lazy longtime residents who’ve allowed their communities to descend into chaos.

    It’s funny how we all notice different things. A number of people posted about the empty liquor bottle in the photo. I noticed the walker leaning against the tree.

  • I live on the block where this guy and a bunch of others hang out. I understand his feelings that the neighborhood is changing–though I’m one of the ones changing it.

    BUT his bit about harassment is a little much. I have seen his group fighting/drinking/pissing in public/loitering in a way that blocks the whole sidewalk (and are unwilling to let you walk through)/and being busted by the cops for things. I am sure that they are high on the police’s ‘keep an eye on these guys’ list because they cause problems. Is that harassment? No, it’s good policing.

    As for the rest: change is hard and I sympathize.

  • Zach:

    Your statement kind of implies that there isn’t still cheap carryout available there. Name a single ‘hood east of the creek where that is the case.

  • “It’s funny how we all notice different things. A number of people posted about the empty liquor bottle in the photo. I noticed the walker leaning against the tree.”

    And I noticed that he is dressed nicely, has on newish/shiny shoes and while bearded he isn’t scruffy. This man is not a cast away, empty liquor bottle or no.

  • this post is valuable simply because it shows how differently each of us see things. this man’s opinion… even if it is shrouded in a life of alcoholism (maybe thats not his bottle, I dont know) , shows the massive barriers that have not yet been bridged between white and black people in this city, and country. that said… i moved out of my house because loiterers like this guy and his buddies made it unlivable…

  • having read all the comments, i think i’m going to sell my home off of H. yeah. that’s what i’ll do. no. i’ll give it back to the community. for free. i miss the crackhouses and brothels that have plagued the area for years. what right do i have to buy into the neighborhood, when it truly belongs to alcoholics and welfare mamas? i should have thought twice and bought in georgetown or foxhall.

    sorry people. i didn’t mean to “put you down”. i was just trying to make a life.

    you can have it back, because, of course, you deserve it. you’re entitled to it. ugh.

    sad, sad, sad.

  • Damn, people really do use this blog to vent about their neighbors of lower socioeconomic classes.

  • With an empty hard liquor bottle next to him he says,

    “I’m 76-years-old…
    …ain’t done nothing but hang out,
    …been doing that for 30-40 years with no problems
    …I just go with the flow
    …we basically lost our rights and now we have to fight for them
    …everybody here is struggling
    …I am like an endangered species

    You know what I’m saying ?”

    Yeah, right !

    Obviously a stellar, upstanding gentleman in his community, chosen to distinguish himself, made great sacrifices, made such great strides, done so much with his long life, accomplished so much for himself and those around him. Exemplary.

    People’s District must have worked so hard for this one. Pulitzer blogger material here.

  • It is amazing to me how far many of you are taking this story. We know nothing about this man other than the five paragraphs that he/People’s District chose to share and an image of him sitting down. Many of you quickly assume that the bottle of liquor is his and that he is a “lazy” corner guy who has never worked a day in his life. I have always found these forums to be a productive way to learn more about the city and things happening in my neighborhood, but I must say that I am repulsed by many of your harsh stereotypes and your ability to completely discredit this man, whom we know almost nothing about.

    I found Baker’s story to be just that, a story from one DC resident talking about his perception of his surroundings. I would love to see how Baker and his friends would respond to all of these comments or better yet for them to read some of your “stories” about life in DC on People’s District.

  • Marcus Aurelius, I didn’t say loitering was illegal. I said that I don’t think it’s ok. If someone wants to hang out on their own stoop or porch all day, I say go for it (I like to sit on my porch and do nothing when I have a chance). But doing this on in a communal area everyday for 30-40 years is not ok and I am sure you agree.

    And for the record, my family has lived in DC for many years (in Petworth), and though they don’t have much, they have worked and still work extremely hard. Many of my aunts and uncles around this gentleman’s age are still working/volunteering and do everything they can to keep their homes up and contribute to the health of the neighborhood. They would consider someone who “hangs out all day” to be just as much as a detriment to the neighborhood as a so-called gentrifier would.

    And I don’t think the new businesses on H Street are necessarily off limits to long-time residents. It’s just more expensive. But, you get what you pay for whether it’s on H Street or elsewhere. If you want cheap eats, go to Danny’s for a $5 chicken and fried rice plate. About $8 gets you a two-piece meal at Popeye’s. If you want something more in terms of quality, you may have to spend a little more. I actually think the food prices at many of the new places aren’t terrible considering. You can get a pretty substantial meal from the Argonaut or the R&B for under $20.

  • Jackie, did you miss the part where he said “We ain’t doing nothing but hanging out, been doing that for 30-40 years with no problems. We around every day, some of us work and some of us don’t, but we don’t bother nobody”.

    He must be one of the one’s hanging out during the day and not working b/c he made it clear he doesn’t bother to go out at night for fear of the crowds of white folks and the harassment from the cops.

    I think sometimes you just gotta call BS when it’s BS.

  • “I think sometimes you just gotta call BS when it’s BS.”

    I agree, like all the sentiments of entitlement and superiority from some of the gentrifiers on here. This city, these neighborhoods, this world, is not just for you because you happened to get more money from your life than others have. Some folks work hard and get the bucks, others work hard and don’t. Some folks don’t do shit and get the bucks, others don’t do shit and don’t. We all have to coexist though, and the sense of entitlement from some of the comments on here is quite disgusting.

  • I think the “sense of entitlement” is expressed by the subject of this profile. He apparently feels “entitled” to the neighborhood the way he wanted it, regardless of how others viewed his 40 years of hanging out on the corner. He feels entitled to businesses that cater solely to his wants, not anyone else’s–don’t dare open a restaurant he can’t afford. He feels entitled to a white-people-free zone. Personally, I find THAT sense of entitlement “quite disgusting.”

  • Voiceofreason, if you don’t do shit and don’t get anything, you can’t then be mad that others are getting things and progressing around you. That’s what is so ridiculous about this particular point of view. How do you feel entitled to hang out all day drinking, not work, and expect the neighborhood around you to only cater to you and your buddies who do the same. Calling all those others racist and harassing just makes it all the more silly.

    And I don’t feel “superior” to anyone. Just feel that all people should respect each other and work hard. What happened to values, morals, and work ethic? It’s not ok to excuse bad behavior because that’s someones point of view or experience.

    All people (black, white, old, young) should abhor the thought that it is acceptable for any member of society to just hang out for 30-40 years and not do anything productive for society. And no, sharing your “stories” about the neighborhood do not constitute as productive in my opinion.

  • beautifully stated, G

  • “Just feel that all people should respect each other and work hard. What happened to values, morals, and work ethic? ”

    Yeah, and many of you write off plenty of people in the neighborhood who respect their neighbors and work hard, but still don’t make the $. And plenty of you in the neighborhood have your money to afford living here because you were lucky enough to have wealthy family, or good schools growing up, or a friend to get you a good job. And yeah, some folks work their asses off to get where they are, and some folks sit around and drink all day.

    But folks on here, they make snap judgments about a guy they know very little about, read volumes into a few quotes, and paint him as a drunk because there is a liquor bottle nearby. And the overarching sentiment is the idea that the gentrifiers are somehow better than than everyone else in the neighborhood because they’ve made enough money, through hard work and “good” values, to move in. It comes off real ugly.

    I don’t know any of you, for all I know you are model citizens and community stalwarts. But some of the comments on here are just sickening.

  • i amazed at the vitriol expressed in these comments. its like the washington post commentors moved to Pop.

    to me this guys story is just sad. grew up in a segregated city. his neighborhood so tense and angered it burned itself down. utterly destroying itself. lived in a hollowed out hood.never felt the inclination or inspiration or self worth to stand up and make a change. going with the flow for 76 years. in a place that desperately needed a helping hand and solid men. a missed opportunity. now seeing his neighborhood become more expensive than he can afford. the only neighborhood he’s know. one neighborhood in his whole life! can you imagine if h street was all you knew? now seeing its popularity amongst a skin color that used to legislate against him then left his city and didnt show its face in his hood for 30 years. his sense that the changes occurring now are “wrong” and a vision that its acceptable that his life is divided by race. not understanding why hanging out all day is newly considered a harrassable offense by the police when the neighborhood was so lawless for so long. when hanging out was among the more acceptable actions an uninspired man could take.
    sitting in judgment by internet commentors he doesnt even know, but that know better than him how he should have lived.

    its a sad tale.

  • I bet you’d find other 76 year olds individuals in this same neighborhood that have chosen another path of life:

    chosen to have productive days in their long lives by taking some personal initiative:

    maybe educating themselves, taking advantage of the opportunities a free society offers, getting up every morning and working on a regular basis, raising and providing for a family and not expecting others to do it for him, paying income taxes and property taxes,

    basically living a normal productive life beyond just being a spectator like him or his supporters like voiceofreason both passing judgement on the “haves” around them.

    It is the subject of this thread that has the false sense of entitlement for just existing.

    And it is collectivists like voiceofreason that no matter how good life is or can be that always see injustice and unfairness in everything with a contrived creed of sloth and deceit that perpetuates and rewards the same sloth and deceit just because it makes them feel better fighting injustice and unfairness and by calling others disgusting who do not share their views dragging us all to the same collective misery.

  • What’s sickening and disgusting is not seeing individuals and their individual capacity, but casting and compartmentalizing each an everyone of us by class or creed by apologists that see productive people as lucky.

  • To all the anti-gentrifiers out there: I’m kind of confused. How exactly is a community supposed to raise itself up without property values increasing somewhat? The Atlas district used to be no-man’s land. When a neighborhood becomes more safe, cheery, with plenty of things to do, prices go up. Period. Some people move in and some people are left behind. What are developers supposed to do that would satisfy you?

    I have sympathy for this man because his world is changing, but c’est la vie.

  • anon at 11:05 am, spare me your dramatics. calling out the failure of gentrifiers to see neighbors as human beings and not the scum of the earth because they aren’t in the professional class is hardly dragging anyone into collective misery. And seeing neighbors as community members rather than stumbling blocks to converting DC neighborhoods to sterile, affluent enclaves is hardly rewarding sloth and deceit. And anon an 11:11 am, a lot of productive people are lucky, and a lot are unlucky. Some productive people are so productive that they work three jobs and are still hassled by cops on Sundays in their neighborhoods for “hanging around” because they look different or because their three jobs still don’t allow them to buy expensive clothes.

  • I think that Jackie’s comments (8:40pm) really sum up this thread for me. We all have different perspectives on the city and on how we impact our community. I would also love to see Baker read and respond to all of your comments. I imagine that he would be upset, but not surprised given that this email chain reflects some of the sentiments he shared in his story.

    Even if this man drinks and doesn’t work (he is 76, mind you), does that mean his opinions are worthless. May I ask, what words/images would it take for you all to take him and his story seriously?

  • Wow, what a reaction!!!! great!!!
    Even though I do not agree with all the statements, it is incredible that this story touched so many people in so many ways.
    Bravo to Danny Harris . I love reading his stories, and listening trough him to the different voices of DC. It takes courage, energy, compassion and smart curiosity to walk around DC, find this people and let them share their voices.
    Again , bravo Danny Harris and please, take all these comments as compliments and not as criticism. I am addicted to peoples district. It should become a book soon .

  • I agree with Rubena Gallino. Peoples District is a great resource for the DC community, and the Prince of Petworth does a service by promoting it. This post really touched a nerve. While some of the comments are outlandish, the conversation itself is exciting. Thanks, Danny Harris, for getting us all going on Baker and on stooping. Can’t wait to see more.

  • An interesting observation is that the black man is wearing his baseball cap like a “baller”.
    I always thought that was a style that was created within the past 10-15 years or so by black urban youth, but maybe guys like him created that trend a long time ago. White kids don’t get on to that stuff until it’s mainstream and hits the suburbs. Or maybe he’s just trying to be young and fit in with the youth of today. Who’s to say.

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