‘Sidra on Raising Your Kids’ by Danny Harris (Reader Request)

Danny Harris is a DC-based photographer, DJ, and collector of stories. He launched People’s District, a blog that tells a people’s history of DC by sharing the stories and images of its residents. You can follow People’s District on Twitter @PeoplesDistrict, and can read his previous columns here.

“D.C. was great when I was growing up, but this ain’t no place to raise children any more. Now that I got two kids, there isn’t too much that I like about D.C. I really want to get out of here. Don’t much mind where I go, as long as it is not here. I am being for real.

“I was raised uptown in D.C. and then moved to Maryland. I liked it there for my kids because it was safe and quiet, but I be going crazy with nothing to do. I recently got an apartment in Southeast. I really didn’t want to move there, but an apartment came through the city where I would be able to live on my own with my two kids.

“I tell you, Southeast ain’t nothing but corruption. I don’t want to live or raise my children here. It’s like every time my son gets up out of the house, he gets into it with somebody. And my son is only four years old. My daughter is one and too young to deal with all of this. What is wrong with these parents where my son can’t just go outside and play? These parents ain’t raising their kids right.

Continues after the jump.

“See, I teach my children discipline. My son knows what’s right and what’s wrong. You can see a difference in how I raise my child and how they do. But we all got to suffer from these parents who don’t care. That just ain’t right. So, I got to shield my child and keep him in the house or bring him to Northwest when he wants to go to the playground. But now that it is getting warm outside, it is going to get too hot to be in the house all of the time. When he does go out, I keep him close where I can watch him.

“I want my kids to be successful. I want them to stay in school and go to college. That is why I am trying to get them away from Southeast. Most of them other kids, I can tell, aren’t going to get too far. As for me, I am 26 and starting college. I want to be a nurse and get out of this city.”

36 Comment

  • people are beefin’ with a 4 year old? um, what?

    good luck.

  • She shouldn’t have to move, but things are what they are and I hope that she can complete her education, begin a career (not just get a ‘job’), and make enough to afford a living situation that is the best for her and her children.

  • Good luck sister. I think two kids and college will keep you really busy so I hope you don’t plan in having another kid anytime soon.

  • good luck–she sounds like a good parent. Nursing is a great career, and one of the great things about it is you can move anywhere you want.

  • I think strong parenting has a bigger influence on a kid than his evironment. Her children should be just fine.

  • what did you say?

  • I hope things work out for her. We need more parents like her in the city.

  • Poor Marylander falls through the cracks because of insufficient services. Poor Marylander becomes a DC resident after being drawn to DC because of the comparative richness of our safety net. (Hopefully) this person gets their life back on track, gets a middle-class job and…moves out to Maryland and starts paying taxes.

    As I’ve said a hundred times before here, we’re in the business of recruiting poor folks from around the region, fixing up their lives at great DC taxpayer expense, and sending them to the suburbs where they’ll contribute to the MD/VA tax revenues. I don’t know how to fix this, but it’s a massive drain on DC’s fiscal viability; and a massive direct subsidy from DC to the suburbs.

    This takes nothing away from Sidra and her family–I wish them nothing but success, and I’m glad that DC takes its responsibilities seriously. But it’s a sad indictment of the suburbs, who do very little to pull their weight given the sheer numbers of the needy in the region.

  • Best of luck to her and her children. It is sad a good hearted mother is run out of her home by a bunch of negligent parents. Almost all of DCs problems directly relate to those terrible parents she speaks of – their kids grow up to sell drugs and kill, then get each other pregnant too young, don’t raise their children right, continue cycle all over again. Glad she understands the right way to do it and I wish there was a way to help parents like her and break the cycle for the other negligent parents. But I guess that is the million dollar question.

    • I’m just glad that DC is willing to shelter and support a Maryland resident in need after Maryland fails in any way whatsoever to take care of their own. Hopefully, once Sidra gets her nursing certificate and gets her life back together, and fulfills her goal of moving back to Maryland, and starts paying Maryland income tax, and votes in Maryland, she’ll vote to ensure that MD takes care of it’s residents the way that DC takes care of MD residents today.

  • sigh

  • Sounds like she has the right attitude. Using wellfare and government assistance the way it’s supposed to be used. She has her eye on the prize and knows the city assistance isn’t permanent. Wellfare (in whatever form) should only be a temporary thing to get people on the right track. Unfortunately too many people love to game the system.

    Good luck to Sidra and her family.

  • Is her hair orange? Also, that is one cute kid.

  • Why write the whole city off (especially after relying on city services to get on one’s feet) and flee to Maryland? The beauty of this city is that there are so many different diverse neighborhoods. There are plenty of parts of the city that are solid places to raise kids and have comparable prices to suburban Maryland.

    • This dynamic is incredibly common, and it’s the reason DC has such crushingly high poverty rates. Moving to the suburbs is a sign of success–it always has been an aspirational goal for the *majority* of the city’s African Americans. The white population headed for the doors starting in the great post-WWII migration out of the cities. That exegis continued unabated until the late 1960s. That was the high water mark of the “Chocolate City”, but the 70% black population of DC at the time was an historical anomaly driven by racist housing codes in the suburbs.

      Pretty much the *instant* the 1968 Fair Housing Act was passed, what you see is 100k blacks leaving DC for the suburbs, and by 1980, largely everyone who had an option left.

      The dynamic from then until fairly recently was that if you got a decent job, you moved out of the city. If you lived in the suburbs and lost your job (got addicted, became homeless, etc…) you moved into the city.

      It’s only in the last decade or so that the DC housing market has tightened up enough so that the cycle of “redeemed” folks moving to the burbs, and “fallen” folks moving into the city has been interrupted.

      But the aspiration of “moving into the city” has always been an upper middle-class one. Think of it as a branding issue. The “city” brand has been thoroughly trashed among the lower middle-class demographic–of any race.

      Your average poor white guy in WV doesn’t dream of getting a college education, getting a job as a successful businessman, and…moving into Adams-Morgan. There are outliers, but it’s just not all that common.

      You might just as well ask why Sidra’s not all that into The Decemberists.

      • outliers? yes, we get it. you read books. or at least listen to npr.
        i enjoy your idiotic posts.

        • I appreciate your fervent passion that things not be the way they are, but I’ve found those without an argument are usually the most passionate. Maybe if we all clap very loudly and wish for a pony we can make this world a perfect place.

  • I don’t know that she necessarily moved straight from MD to SE. She says that the city found her the apartment in SE and they wouldn’t be able to do that if she were a MD resident; only DC residents are on the waitlist for housing assistance. I guess she could have been staying with a relative in MD or something, but in that situation she’s still basically homeless and if it comes down to family in MD or a shelter in DC it’s probably better for her (and cheaper for the District) for her to wait things out in MD.

  • We can see the difference too! It really bleeds across the entire city.

    Boys will be boys, but sometimes the kids in this town seem way off course, with horrific adult supervision and lack of positive influence and guidance from anyone. Embracing thuggery and maliciousness and perfecting awful behavior at an early age. I know way too many single moms who have lost their sons to guns over in SE.

  • If she’s going to college to become a Registered Nurse, then she will be able to move someday. If she’s going to school to become a Nursing Assistant, then it’s another situation because this job doesn’t pay much. LPN’s (Licensed Practical Nurses) make an ok salary, but she want be able to afford a nice place uptown. She will need to get a 4 year Nursing Degree.

    My mother attended Freedmans School of Nursing back in the 50’s. At that time, it was a 3 year Nursing School for colored women. Later Freedmans School of Nursing became Howard University School of Nursing. My mother went back to attend Howard for an additional year to get her B.S. in Nursing. At 75, my mother still keeps her Nursing License renewed.

  • I don’t have kids but I thought much the same way Sidra did. I took me about three years I guess from the time I said ‘Enough of DC, enough…’ until I got out. Hang in there Sidra, you can do it. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and after 15 years in DC I feel I can live anywhere and hold my own. Just don’t get killed, for real, and watch your boy and girl like a hawk.

  • While I empathize with her situation, I’ve never understood the broader argument that DC has nothing to do or offer. Where else can a person without much money spend a whole day at the zoo, at the largest museum collection in the world, at monuments, or in city parks without spending a dime? Seems like the perfect place to raise a child if you can’t trust the system but still want to educate him or her on your own.

    Best to her!

    • your never understanding says more about you than about the people having that thought.

    • No it doesn’t. I completely understand the situation on a neighborhood level she’s dealing with. I don’t understand her claim that there’s nothing to do in DC when there’s ample things to do for free with children. Refute that point rather than attacking me.

      • it’s not an attack. it’s a suggestion to try to understand why people think that way, or perhaps what it is exactly that they mean. the full context of a statement is often not expressed. when faced with a perspective you don’t understand, ask why it exists rather that proclaim you don’t understand it in a manner that invalidates it.

      • you should reread what is written in the post. the “broader argument” is that she fears for her kids safety, not that there is nothing to do. in fact she says she specifically didn’t like the suburbs because there was nothing for her to do.

  • I know this will not be received well, but I don’t think it’s going to be easy for Sidra given her apparent lack of basic education. Her grammer is really bad, although her comments are very logical and sound. Without knowing how to properly construct sentences, I wonder if she’ll be able to teach her children correct English, much less succeed in college and be able to live in a nicer, safer neighborhood. It’s sad. I’m sure her lack of basic language skills is a result of an inferior education system and, perhaps, surroundings where correct grammer is not used, but it’s a reality for she must deal with.

    • i do hope you at least recognize that you’re totally full of yourself.

    • What you speak is the truth. She is going to need loads of remedial English to get through college. Frankly, I’m not confident she will make good on her goals. I hear this a lot from women like her and they rarely make it.

  • How so? I didn’t say anything about my ability to speak proper English. I make grammer and spelling mistakes all the time. But, I think her quotes make it pretty clear that she doesn’t know the basic rules of grammer. And, in my humble opinion, it’s hard to complete college and be successful at a challenging career like nursing without be able to communicate effectively.

    • in that you seem to feel that your perspective on a tiny glimpse of a person is enough to know that she is poor at grammar and speaking, that she doesn’t know how to construct sentences, and you doubt whether she can succeed in college is accurate. despite this being one interview. a causal street interview at best.

      • Yes, I was drawing conclusions that may not be accurate. I hope I’m wrong and I very well may be. We need more nurses and it would be wonderful if could fulfill her dreams and provide a safe and stable environment for her family.

  • Where’s the father? If you wanted to give your children chance of success you would have gotten married, completed your education, and then had him.

    What’s done is done and for your children’s sake I hope you are up to the task of raising them to be productive members of society.

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