Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Scare Tactics, Part 2

In Part 2 of this series, I'm posting another email I received about tactics that are being used to scare certain people away from the Anacostia neighborhood (and I'm sure other neighborhoods across the city).



This email comes from a resident who has witnessed an increase in negative and racial comments since posters appeared across the neighborhood advertising an effort to "Keep DC A Chocolate City":
Keep DC a Chocolate City - Stop the War On the Black Community! Gentrification and home foreclosures are just a few of the tools used to remove black people from their homes and move whites into the community.

This was the message on the intense yellow posters that were attached to every telephone pole along MLK Avenue as I walked from the Anacostia Metro to my home after work a few weeks ago. The posters brought on a feeling of confusion. Had I misinterpreted the views of my neighbors towards me these past two years? I tried to shake off the feeling of judgment that crept into me as I walked past the Thurgood Marshall Academy. The after school groups of kids were hanging out as per usual, except that day someone mumbled “better get on home whitey” and another of “get off our street”.

I chose to live in Anacostia for the same reasons that my non–white neighbors have in the past couple of years: affordability, short commute to work, the views of the city, and the friendliness of the people that live here. People say hello to each other here, we greet each other, we still take time to really talk with our neighbors. Maybe I have taken these posters too personally, but in a city that just elected Vincent Gray as Mayor with a mission statement of “One City”, I am dismayed and angered by these blatant words of racism plastered in my neighborhood. I like to think that all of the many varieties of chocolate can be equal, including white.
These signs and efforts come across as a desperate way to preserve some artificial sense of uniformity. Is this just a mirror of the integration fears many predominantly white communities held in 20th century?

20 comments:

Critically Urban said...

I'm with you here. Reverse racism is an increasingly terrible problem in the city. Usually it doesn't erupt in a physical form, but this poster is one step closer. To be honest, it doesn't help the black community in DC to even halfheartedly support this message. As DC becomes less black and more equally diverse (if that makes sense), the black community is going to need to remain friends with everyone, just as the white and Latino communities will need to remain friendly, as well. Not one particular group of people owns the city, the streets, the sidewalks, the parks, etc. The most you can own is yourself, your actions, your car, your home and everything in it. Some of the kids you're talking about would do well to learn just that, and their parents might need to help out.

IMGoph said...

i don't want to be alarmist, but you can draw parallels between this and the kind of hate speech that was broadcast about hutu and tutsi in rwanada years ago.

we're not going to have ethnic cleansing here in DC, but hate speech is hate speech.

chadcopeland said...

Very sad.

Angry Parakeet said...

They were plastered all over Georgia Avenue; Prince of Petworth blogged it and many posters commented.

Anonymous said...

I am grateful for the forum and the postings. I am saddened by this kind of rhetoric, regardless of who it comes from--targeting anyone based on the color of skin is simply wrong--but I also am greatly concerned at the amount of fear this indicates...how do we as DC residents ease this kind of fear? rhetorical, I realize, but it really has me thinking...

Anonymous said...

I saw those posters displayed on that garbage ladened walkway and laughed just to keep from crying. Misdirected frustration is all it is.

Anonymous said...

Across the street from my Anacostia home someone has spray painted "Gentrification Kills" on a long abandoned home. The irony is too apparent, I thought. But I was curious as to whom this was meant for.

Anonymous said...

I live near H st NE and get all kinds of crap from African Americans. Comments like white trash and that I am raping the MFing city are just a bunch of crap. Sometimes I wish I had moved to VA instead of investing a ton of cash into a house here.

Anonymous said...

its a lot easier for people to blame someone for their predicament than to do something about it. not everyone has to leave dc. if you have a job it helps your ability to stay no matter what race you are. someone told me once to "go back to milwaukee" while driving through Anacostia in 1999. i thought things had changed.

saf said...

Hi - visiting from Petworth, where we have also seen those poster, and the "Gentrification kills!" graffiti.

I don't get it. My neighbors and I don't want to live in monolithic neighborhood. (Yes, I'm white. Been in Petworth since 1990. My neighbors are mostly black, and have mostly been here since 1958 or so. Although that's changing as many of the get old enough to need to move.)

Anyhow, in my experience, those posters didn't change how the adults around interacted with each other, but may have emboldened some of the teenagers (most of whom don't live in the neighborhood) to revive outdated exclusionary language.

Fred said...

I am 35 yr old, African-American male that has been living in Anacostia for over 6 years. believe it or not i have not always felt welcomed in my this community, i think class plays a significant role in this as well, that I think race tends to overshadow. Fellow property owners in my complex often feel like we are outsiders just because we took advantage of the opportunity to become homeowners, while others did not.

I agree the that this divisive language on the poster and directed homeowners is not the way to go, nor do i think that African American should now make use of the bigoted language that was against us when we moved into many communities in the early 20th century, but I do think those of us of all ethnicities should try think about what it might feel like to be pushed out of your community and feeling powerless to do anything about the changing tide.
@Critically Urban, i agree with everything you said, except this premise of "Reverse racism", i mean racism is racism, no?

Ward 7 Citizen said...

I would like to express my discontent about the posters that have been posted in DC that is a promotion of divisiveness. We are all living in this world together, though our paths are different, we (people of all nationalities) exist and co-exist everywhere on this planet.I believe that those who've posted this propaganda are afraid of the change that will inevitably come. Instead of having a plan and being prepared to meet the challenge of the change that is to come, as well as taking advantage of the opportunities that are available (be it education,home ownership programs,job/vocational training and other various resources that will help them better prepare for the coming change) they are living in constant fear of it. I can somewhat understand why(due to the rapid change that came to the western parts of DC that had priced out many long-term residents before they even had the chance to become part of the change or reap its benefits). However, it is still no excuse for this type of rhetoric. I also am not sure if the people in this community are aware that the change that is coming can benefit them, if they prepare,get more information about the transition of this side of DC,make the initiative to get involved in the community and get assistance or tap into the resources that are available which could help them better prepare and withstand the transition. All of this rhetoric is based on fear by the attempt to instill fear in many long-term and migrating residents who are nervous about the potential of becoming priced out of the community that they've lived in and was raised in for years or moved their in search for affordable housing, and the attempt to instill fear by way of intimidation of those who've decided to invest in and become a part of this community, by those who are following and in agreement of this propaganda and feeding into it. So yes, I must agree that this indeed is a fear (scare) tactic. I reside in Ward 7 and so far I haven't seen this in the direct area that I live in. However, I have seen this before, many years ago (1998) while visiting a friends house off of Rhode Island Avenue,NE. I'm pretty sure that the same people are behind this "movement". My words of encouragement would be to stand firm. Do not let this situation to scare you or move you because you've made the decision to invest in this community and investments must be protected welcome to being a pioneer. Continue to be or start to become actively involved in your community and continue to have dialogue with your neighbors. But as always, be cautious and aware of your surroundings and use precaution and good judgment not only for the sake of this incident, but also because anything can happen anywhere in today's society-even in the Burbs.

Ward 7 Citizen said...

I would like to express my discontent about the posters that have been posted in DC that is a promotion of divisiveness. We are all living in this world together, though our paths are different, we (people of all nationalities) exist and co-exist everywhere on this planet.I believe that those who've posted this propaganda are afraid of the change that will inevitably come. Instead of having a plan and being prepared to
meet the
challenge of the change that is to come, as well as taking advantage of the opportunities that are available (be it education,home ownership programs,job/vocational training and other various resources that will help them better prepare for the coming change) they are living in constant fear of it. I can somewhat understand why(due to the rapid change that came to the western parts of DC that had priced out many long-term residents before they even had the chance to become part of the change or reap its benefits). However, it is still no excuse for this type of rhetoric. I also am not sure if the people in this community are aware that the change that is coming can benefit them, if they prepare,get more information about the transition of this side of DC,make the initiative to get involved in the community and get assistance or tap into the resources that are available which could help them better prepare and withstand the transition. All of this rhetoric is based on fear by the attempt to instill fear in many long-term and migrating residents who are nervous about the potential of becoming priced out of the community that they've lived in and was raised in for years or moved their in search for affordable housing, and the attempt to instill fear by way of intimidation of those who've decided to invest in and become a part of this community, by those who are following and in agreement of this propaganda and feeding into it. So yes, I must agree that this indeed is a fear (scare) tactic. I reside in Ward 7 and so far I haven't seen this in the direct area that I live in. However, I have seen this before, many years ago (1998) while visiting a friends house off of Rhode Island Avenue,NE. I'm pretty sure that the same people are behind this "movement". My words of encouragement would be to stand firm. Do not let this situation to scare you or move you because you've made the decision to invest in this community and investments must be protected welcome to being a pioneer. Continue to be or start to become actively involved in your community and continue to have dialogue with your neighbors. But as always, be cautious and aware of your surroundings and use precaution and good judgment not only for the sake of this incident, but also because anything can happen anywhere in today's society-even in the Burbs.

2011 said...

as a black male living in d.c., i feel i have an "insight" into this language i hear a lot ... it is more like an urban myth than reality, but it will be reality for some. not based on racism, but rather based on economics ... as neighborhoods get better, rents go up, and previous renters move away ... if i were non-black, i would recommend being empathetic to those who are going to have to move away (even if they don't realize it) and just take their comments with grain of salt. After all, much of d.c. was non-black before the riots ('68); its just the city changing again

Strings attached said...

I live off Good Hope Rd with my caucasian wife (I'm African American) and also saw these posters. I just thought of how foolish the individuals were who posted these sheets of paper. How else will the area and economy improve without responsible citizens? Black or white. You would think the black community of all people would understand racisim's ills. To any Caucasian that reads this, please know all AA residents of SE don't hold this view. Most of us are more sensible.

Anonymous said...

Being African American and having wavering feelings about my move from Clarendon, VA to Penn Branch, DC I have seen first hand the increasing problem of reverse racism (not in Penn Branch, our neighbors are AWESOME). I have and will always be a huge supporter of gentrification because my childhood neighborhood suffered the white flight and all I ever wanted was for the businesses
to come back and for people to want to be near where I loved and lived. I spent a decade in university making a good life for myself and future family. My husband (who is white) loves our new neighborhood and home. This was his choice when I wanted to stay put of live in NW of NE even because of the spend of gentrification there versus here. I am having the hardest time because I went from being poor growing up in an impoverish neighborhood to moving into a trendy upscale middle class neighborhood to be in the southeast area of DC because of its affordability. As mid 20-somethings post-graduate students we are not prepared to spend a ton. We have student loans : ) Every day and night I hear constant sirens, car theft and possible gun shot sounds. He picked a great neighborhood though because it's around us but not with us and that is not good enough all of southeast should be as peaceful and at a faster pace. Gentrification is not a crime against black people. It is the revitalization of a community. I want to spend money in SE. All trips planned to shop for anything happens at closest range Capitol Hill and at farthest range Virginia. Why should I help their neighborhoods thrive? I want to make SE thrive. I am embarrassed that this is happening and I am glad for blogs such as this. Oh and that quote was great:
"I like to think that all of the many varieties of chocolate can be equal, including white."

Lisa said...

New signs went up overnight near the Anacostia Metro and up and down MLK.......sigh...

Kara C said...

I've noticed the signs on different occasions. I am honestly embarrassed to witness such behavior in 2011 nonetheless. There is a lot of potential for the neighborhoods of Ward 7 & 8 to be a great, growing and a diverse one. However there will always be friction with this activity going on.

Kimberly W. said...

*I wish I would have seen this post earlier!

hi. I am a bi-racial female and I have lived in the district for 5 years. I can relate to both sides of frustration as my mother is black and my father is white. First,
I'd like to say, there is no such thing as "reverse racism." racism = discrimination + power + oppressive group effects. For anyone to even acknowledge something as being racist, you have to realize the state of inequality. In order for minorities to be racist they have to be in the position of power and their actions must be motivated to oppress the other race. Now, in the case of gentrification taking place all over DC, blacks aren't posting signs to oppress whites. They are trying to save the RESIDENTS in the community from being forced out of their homes. Many homeowners (not all) in these areas are being forced or tricked to sell their property for far less than what it is actually worth. The elderly in the community lose their homes and their property when developers come to "transition" the community. What the poster should say is that this is an attack on class. As the old saying goes, "you got to pay to play." This city belongs to everyone and it is no one’s right to move those who do not have a higher income. I have lived near housing communities that would make one raise an eyebrow, and I have never had a problem with any of the residents. Like most of you who have made comments I have student loans and a rack of other bills and working for the federal government doesn't exactly mean I'm making tons of money. I want to live in a safe and diverse environment without paying an outrageous amount of money every month for rent or mortgage. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world. If you want to live some of these cheaper areas of DC be prepared for crime. If you live in the suburbs you should be prepared for crime as well, because many of the residents of DC are being moved out of the city. (Believe me; I've witnessed this in the Atlanta metro area.) I wish there was a way for everyone to get along, but its 2011 and unfortunately we still have so far to go with racism and classism.

Anonymous said...

If you want to "learn" what it is like to be forced out of your home, neighbhorhood, and way of life just look at Boston. Once a poor white community, now a rich yuppie haven. No one cared how we all felt as we were forced out of our neighborhoods, or how our way of life changed seemingly overnight. I feel for the people who feel that they are losing thier city, however 30 years of failure would cause any city to want to change and appeal to a working class, regardless of color or race. There are tons of opportunity for anyone in this city to make something out of themselves, way more then we were ever offered in Boston, yet only few take advantage of it.