Tuesday, July 19, 2011

H Street Politics…

So I’m not much for politics, especially racial politics but I did find the NY Times article on our neighborhood interesting. I actually had talked to Jedd’s mom about all the racial tension going around since H Street had started to be redeveloped. This article illustrates a lot of what I was talking about. Being bi-racial I think I have the ability to see things from a unique perspective so I’ll just comment on a few items that I find perplexing, but that I do feel the NY Times article got right.

“…the building of dog parks and bike and streetcar lanes as efforts by affluent whites to re-arrange spending priorities to suit themselves”. I’m not sure what this means. The article references affluent new comers as causing low-income residents concern. What I’m taking from the article is that affluent = white and low-income = black. The funny thing I find about this article is that having lived in the area since 2006 I think no one is talking about what is obvious to anyone in the neighborhood, for whatever reason H Street has been a kind of divide. Some towns/cities have train tracks we have H Street. The side I live on which typically has been referred to as Capitol Hill since I have lived here and has for the most part been primarily white. I don’t know why, I haven’t asked around, but it just seems that way. As for whether or not its “affluent” whites I would say no, I think it’s probably a bunch of normal white people. The kids next door to me all go to college, they drive crummy cars and there is like 6 of them living in a house. The house funny enough is owned by a black guy, I don’t know where he lives, but I’m thinking he’s the affluent one. The opposite side of the street does appear to have more black residents and I don’t notice any less now that H Street is booming.

The other issue I have with the sentence is that it makes it seem as if this area is the only one getting dog parks, bike lanes, etc. Northwest has had two dog parks for awhile. Every traffic circle in the city is an unofficial dog park if your dogs can go off leash. Dog parks aren’t new to the city nor are they evidence of H Street’s gentrification. As for the bike lanes, DC has had them for awhile, but recently there has been a big move to make the city more bike friendly. As a result those lanes have been increased everywhere, I find them annoying but then again I don’t bike. I also don’t think it’s a bunch of white people asking for increased bike lanes. I think it’s bikers.

The article also highlights a thing that I find very insulting as an educated black (yes I consider myself black) woman. I heard this time and time again during the recent race for a new Mayor and was baffled. So many black residence commented on how Fenty was doing so much in the city to make it more attractive for whites. What confuses me about this comment is that it tries to make it appear that blacks don’t want or benefit from the same things as whites. I like increased safety and a reason for the city to invest in cleaning up my neighborhood. Prior to the revitalization on H Street no one would be caught dead out there after mid-night. Now it’s a go to place. As a result I feel safer; the police constantly patrol the neighborhood. There are also more food options. Before the new restaurants opened things would be closed once it got dark, businesses pulled down their steel protective gates and called it a night early forcing me to take all my business to places like Northwest and Georgetown.

I also think no one likes increased property taxes, I should call my landlord, their white and ask them. All Jedd is currently talking about is how he thinks he should have the property reevaluated because he thinks the taxes are too high. Jedd’s white, he DOES NOT like high property taxes.

The thing I do notice is that for some reason as a city we are purposely segregating ourselves. There are nice restaurants and businesses on H Street and often I do think to myself I don’t understand where the black residents of DC are. I see you walking down H Street, where are you going? It can’t just be to the Popeye’s, Liquor Store and Hair Salon. As an H Street Resident I don’t really care what color you are, it’s not your city or your neighborhood if you don’t frequent the establishments be it dog parks, Sticky Rice or The Country Club. Time and time again I see these types of articles or news programs talking about how this is happening in our neighborhood and it is happening. I can’t argue that, but it saddens me I feel like saying “no one is asking us to go” but if we stay we are going to have to participate on the same level as everyone else in the neighborhood.

What’s your take on the NY Times article? Have you seen similar things going on in your neighborhood? What’s the solution?

No comments:

Post a Comment