Friday, November 5, 2010

Anacostia on Bones

Last night, the FOX television show "Bones" aired an episode, part of which was about a detective wanting to pursue a lead in Anacostia. The opening dialogue of the episode shows a very typical outsider understanding of the Anacostia neighborhood. Clearly, there is still much to do to challenge and change assumptions.

Hannah: What do you know about Anacostia?

Booth: It's a neighborhood about a mile and a half from here: seedy, prostitution, lots of gangs, bad activity ... why?

Sweets: Anacostia? That’s a really tough part of town.

Booth: Not compared to downtown Kabul, it’s not.

Brennan: Or the surface of Venus, which is covered by clouds of sulfuric acid and hundreds of active mega-volcanoes. What?! We are talking about tough neighborhoods!

What do you think? What will it take to get the local and national media to stop scaring people? I think the neighborhood is on the right track, and am confident in its transformation ... but I represent a very small percentage of people out there.

It's gonna be a step by step process combining community building, new buildings, good role models, and investment of all kinds to get Anacostia off the "bad neighborhood name-drop" list. Have hope.

image courtesy of Real is Just a Matter of Perception


AnacostiaQUE said...

It will change in time. Perceptions are relative. The reality in Anacostia is that people do stand around loitering on either MLK or Good Hope or the many streets contained within Anacostia. Many seem to throw trash any and everywhere. Not sure about you, but groups of young men (any race) standing around - apparently either not in school or not working or both can be intimidating. Drive around and you will see this, especially on a Friday or Sat, but this can be any day. Churches seem to be the main draw, but then folks go home to live and pay taxes in MD or VA.

The quality of life over here is not nearly on par with the other quadrants. The middle class that is here can be in Pentagon (i.e. amenities) in 10 minutes on the good weekend. That leaves Skyland, mom and pops and check cashing places for those who can't access other areas.

We're all in tough times economically, but even when times are good, amenities seem to elude Anacostia. Elected leaders cater to NW, while people in SE seem to vote against anything progressive. A light rail that can connect the poor to jobs. The baseball stadium that seems to employ large numbers of African Americans.

Anacostia needs to look within itself and make some meaningful decisions about it's direction. We have to get past the internal rift
(old timers Vs newcomers) Old timers: times change. Newcomers: recognize the traditions....

Image and presentation is everything so....that teen with his pants hanging down to his knees - although not your direct teen - is a reflection of the area. Multiply that by hundreds walking around SE and our collective branding initiative has to work harder. It doesn't take a politician or policeman to keep Anacostia clean - or tell our kids to dress appropriately.

Many are living on borrowed time over here and the world is passing so many folks by. Anacoatia is bigger than a glimpse on TV - or a branding initiative. People are in some really real situations over here that most can't relate to.

I fault systemic racism, false stereotypes, past poor decisions and and inability to connect labor to the available jobs that are out there. I understand the aim to improve our image, but if a person is coming from NOVA, MC or Hollywood, it's hard to separate the image of the loiterers simply hanging out drinking from the crimes you associate with SE. The loiters aren't necesarily committing the crimes, but if you exit onto Howard Road and drive toward Morris Rd on a payday weekend, the (1st impressions) image can go hand in hand with the traditional perception of SE.

AnacostiaQUE said...

12 Things.....Nannie Helen Burroughs - as in Burroughs Ave in NE and 295


Ms. V said...

@Anacostia Que.... You said a mouthful. I co-sign on everything your saod

Anonymous said...

Being that every actor pronounced the name of the neighborhood wrong, I wouldn't take it too seriously. A bunch of Hollywood writers googled "bag neighborhoods in DC" and just wrote a general plot. It is what they would do no matter what city they were talking about.

IMGoph said...

trinidad has the same problems of perception, on a much smaller scale. it's just going to take time, time, time.

Simplyshyindc said...

Wow that was an amazing statement..For those very reason you've mentioned is why I'm afraid of those areas any where in DC...I have it hard.. Not knowing where I'm accepted..I'm not accepted in areas like southeast but is often frowned upon folks in NW...It's not an area, it's the people in these areas that we should be concerned about..Any area where's their very little revenue & cheaper land it's going to be issues

Anonymous said...

Wow that was an amazing statement..For those very reason you've mentioned is why I'm afraid of those areas or any area where those activities go...I have it hard.. Not knowing where I'm accepted..I'm not accepted in areas like southeast but is often frowned upon from folks in NW...It's not an area, it's the people in these areas that we should be concerned about..Any area where there's very little revenue & cheaper land it's going to be issues

Anonymous said...

Let's make it so homicides are not twice the city average. That is a start.

Alice M Thornton said...

This is why I cancelled my cable and either read or watch PBS. My mom used to refer to the television set as "the idiot box" for a reason. Let people think what they want, they're missing out on the hidden gem of the city.

Anonymous said...

I used to go into Anacostia every day. I would ride the metro there and wait for a few of my friends to show up to go further down into Anacostia. When I would drive down there, I got some weird looks, being a white chick in a predominantly black neighborhood; but I was never "bothered" and I was never given any trouble. I think this neighborhood could really turn it around. I do agree that the shows and media seem to create the idea that it is an awful place and certain areas shouldn't be gone into. I disagree.

Tom A. said...

I was more offended that everyone pronounced the neighborhood liek it ends in a similar way to Anastatia. Not Anacost-e-ah.

And of course she ends up getting shot when visiting that neighborhood! I think there are probably a LOT more prostitutes in NW than in Anacostia.

AMamiMus (Real World) Solutions said...

How does a neighborhood sue a lazy writing hack for defamation of character?

If Bones actually filmed this on location (I'm assuming not), then how did the ANC miss this mischaracterization of the neighborhood?

Q1...No need to sue. You can ask your local representatives in the ANC to lobby the higher-ups in DC gov't to take up the matter with "Bones"' production company (Far Field Productions and Josephson Entertainment in association with 20th Century Fox Television...taken from DC needs every dollar it can get. How many tourism dollars were potentially lost when this episode aired? Perhaps not enough to fill the budget deficit facing Mayor-Elect Gray, but like I said, DC needs every dollar it can get.

Q2: If production companies are allowed to take artistic license with how they represent set locations, then this is a moot point. However, when David Simon produced "The Wire" in Baltimore, he had the neighborhood's full cooperation...even to the point of hiring extras from some of the neighborhoods used as locations. Even without the need for a filming permit, you tell me who told the Bones' writing hack that prostitution and gangs are rampant in Anacostia [as opposed to other parts of DC] and I'll buy a hat just to eat it.

There are enough sad things going on in DC, Anacostia or otherwise, that the need to make this particular neighborhood more "colorful" is hopelessly lost.

histanaco said...

I agree with the anonymous comment about the location being a 'stab' in the dark google attempt and I wouldn't put too much thought into the television show's reference of Anacostia. Shows set in DC reference lots of different DC neighorhoods all of the time and they are rarely accurate. You should have seen how seedy Criminal Minds made Georgetown look this week. NCIS (which is supposed to based at the Navy Yard) often has scenes that are supposed to be in Anacostia. On at least one occasion, I wished that we actually had some of the businesses that they portrayed.
Obviously our image does need improvement and there are many, many misconceptions, but I wouldn't use serial dramas on TV as a benchmark of how we are perceived.