Category Archives: gentrification

Things Still Untouched by Gentrification in DC

1. “The Shrimp Boat” in NE.

2. Fat Face Bar-B-Que – I see a white person or two in there from time to time, but hey that’s always been the case.  Who doesn’t love delicious soul food?

3. The Open Mic Scene on U Street – The whole sad, non-rhyming white poetry thing hasn’t over taken the “Def Poetry Jam” style of most black poetry.

4. Go-Go Music

5. Marshall Heights – I don’t care how many condos they tried to put over there.  Still Marshall Heights.

6. Minnesota Ave Metro station at night

7. Horace and Dickie’s – Until they sell fried tofu or an avocado and fish sandwich…they are untouched.  LOL

8. Safeway in Petworth – All I can say is yuck.

9. The Homelessness Problem has not improved – Shouldn’t it get better with gentrification?

10. Single Black Women complaining about not being able to find a good man – What about all these good, employed white boys walking around, sis?

This is not a comprehensive list.  So much more could be said.  Wash DC people, what would you add to this list.

Update: I stand corrected.  The Shrimp Boat IS in NE. I placed it in SE.  My bad, Yall!

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I had a Black moment at the Lincoln Memorial

It’s interesting enough being a Black woman in city “formerly know as” Chocolate City.  If you live here you know it’s being rapidly gentrified.  No surprise there.  However, there is one place in the city that has never been fully “chocolatized”.  That is the National Mall.  You can thank the tourists for that.  It’s funny, I’ve talked to African Americans who were born here who have never ventured down except for school trips back in the day.

Unless Barack Obama is being elected, there is a Civil Rights march reenactment, or so other event that is highly attractive to black folk, the Mall is very vanilla. Don’t get me wrong…I love white folks too.  I’m happy about the visitors to the Mall from out of town spend here in the District and what not…blah blah.  I just find it funny that when I go to the Smithsonian museums, stroll the mall, or visit the monuments…I see a handful of black people (many of them working security in the buildings).  However I can walk 10 min in any direction (except the direction of Georgetown and George Washington U) and the city is Chocolate and balanced again.  It’s like going to Virginia.  lol

Anyway, I had a “Black moment” at the Lincoln Memorial yesterday.  I walked there from Union Station…don’t ask me why, just wanted to walk.  I saw about 6 other black people during my walk (no lie).  There were hundreds of people out there, mind you (I saw like 6 softball games, lots of people exercising, and tons of tourist groups).  I get to the top of the stairs at Lincoln Memorial and watch for 10 min to see how many people notice the “I HAVE A DREAM” engraving noting Martin Luther King’s name and the date of the march.  It notes the place on the stairs where he gave his historic speech.  Guess how many people noticed it.  2 children.

Now, to their credit it’s not as pronounced as it should be, in my opinion.  Hey, I think Obama should do something about that.

I remember when I first visited the Memorial that spot on the steps was something I looked for.  The image of King standing on those steps looking out at thousands gathered in the name of civil rights is burned into my psyche as an African American.  I wasn’t looking for that engraving, didn’t even know it was there.  I just wanted to stand in the place and look out over the reflecting pool and think about that day.   Why?  Cause I’m black, and moments like that mean a lot to me.

Maybe that’s why not many people noticed the black history upon which they stood yesterday.   Maybe I shouldn’t expect them to care, but I do.  I find that I’m having more and more of these moments in this so-called “post-racial” America.

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Filed under african american, black women, civil rights, culture, d.c., gentrification, obama, opinion, race, society, washington dc, white folks

Gentrification in DC: Can a sista find a decent beauty supply store?

I spent at least an hour yesterday trying to find a decent, open beauty supply store catering to African American women and their hair care needs in NW Washington DC. Couldn’t be found, People!!

Now I know you’re saying, “Sista, why are you blaming gentrification??”. Well, simply put…the clientele has changed thus the products and services available (and the times when they are available too) has changed. That’s what happens with gentrification. Hell, that’s what happens with change. Things change, this is life.

There is a great beauty supply on Georgia Ave near Howard University (was closed) and another across from the Giant on P St NW (closed). Where did I start my search? Columbia Heights (at the Target. They didn’t have what I was looking for and a “black” beauty suppy would.). No beauty supply stores in columbia heights?? Oh, I wonder why. Sisters, let me know if you have any suggestions.

Do I really have to go to PG county to get what I need, really? Where is a Sally’s when you need one. Dag.

Next thing you know i won’t be able to find any Chinese Food (which is good cause I don’t need to eat that), no Soul Food resturants, and no Nail Salons with bright neon colored polish that will do a french tip on your big toe (I think that’s so ghetto…I’m sorry…I really do).  LOL!  I can’t find a beauty supply, but I’ve seen at least 3-5 new wine stores (wine stores…not liquor stores…there is a difference) in the same area of NW I’m talking about here.

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Filed under african american, black, black women, business, change, chocolate city, community, culture, d.c., ecomonmic, gentrification, opinion, race, washington, washington dc, why, women

Halloween in DC: Gentrificaiton and Candy

While walking to the Giant on O Street NW I thought of one of the great things about the Gentrification that’s going on in Washington DC, specifically NW. As I watched all of the beautiful children, most of them African American, I thought about all the upgraded candy they would be collecting from Gentrified households. Not to say that Big Momma and nem’ don’t give great candy, because they do. I saw folks giving out candy from the projects near the Convention Center, and the kids were swarming and happy. However, being from the midwest originally I know that white folks have great goodies at Halloween too. Baked goods…oh yes.

The other great thing I saw tonight was black families all together with the kids, having family time. It was great.

Happy Halloween!!! (For those of you who celebrate it. I know that lots of Christians don’t, and to you I say Happy Any Other Day! LOL)

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White Chocolate City: Blacks’ Majority in D.C. Slipping

It’s good to see that I’m not the only one seeing all of the Gentrifiction that is changing the Chocolate City into the “White Chocolate” or “Swirl” City. Check the stats people…check the stats. Long term residents…hold on to your homes in DC!!! You are a dying breed. Black folks, stop moving to PG…as if it’s better. You know that all the Section 8 and Voucher housing is moving to PG NOW!!! Wake up!

Newsday.com | WASHINGTON – Much has changed since Ben’s Chili Bowl opened nearly 50 years ago on a bustling strip known as America’s Black Broadway for its thriving black-owned shops and theaters.

Back then, the diner was a popular hangout for black bankers, doctors and blue-collar workers. Jazz greats Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald could be found enjoying chili half-smokes and milkshakes after performing at nearby clubs.

Now, the crowd at the Washington landmark is sometimes mostly white, reflecting a neighborhood metamorphosis characterized by high-end condominiums and businesses like Starbucks.

“Sometimes you look around and wonder, ‘Where are all the black people?'” said Virginia Ali, who opened the diner with her husband, Ben, in 1958.

A similar transformation is happening across Washington as the black population declines and more white residents and other ethnic groups move in. Demographers say if the trend continues the District of Columbia could lose its longtime majority-black status within 10 years. The changes are shaking up city politics, reshaping neighborhoods and displacing longtime residents.

Washington’s black population peaked at 71 percent in 1970 as tens of thousands of white residents left for the suburbs, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But by 2006, the estimated number of black residents had fallen to 57 percent.

At the same time, the population of white residents, which plunged from 65 percent in 1950 to 27 percent 30 years later, is growing. By 2006, the census estimated that 38 percent of D.C. residents were white. The city’s Asian and Hispanic populations also are climbing.

Analysts attribute the shift to lower-income and middle-class black residents leaving for the suburbs while young white professionals and others able to afford expensive housing are moving in. The newcomers to D.C. are being lured by a robust economy, new condos and a chance to escape worsening highway congestion.
Click here for the rest of this article

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I see white people: Gentrification in DC…again

I walked past the newly reopened (and then re-closed) Banneker Recreation Center in Shaw, DC, across from Howard University.  I was coming from my favorite vegetarian soul food spot (well the only veggie soul food spot I know of in DC), Soul Vegetarian.  I was amazed to see 2 thing that I’ve personally never seen before.

1. 4 white middle aged guys playing 2 on 2 with black teens and 20-somethings.  It drew a crowd.  I think people were betting on the game and just gawking.

2. About 4 white people hanging out and swimming at the Banneker pool.  To see adults there is a feat…let alone adult white couples sunning themselves.

(Oh, there were also some white folks playing softball…but I’ve seen that before…that started about 2 years ago.) 

I was simply amazed.  I attended HU from 95-99 and I worked at HU for 6 years.  I passed Banneker daily on the way to the parking lot for all of those years.  I lived right up the street a year ago.  I know that area…and I’ve never seen more than 1 white person at that pool…and they were not swimming…they were supervising a summer camp or something.  Summer time at that Center means lots and lots of black teens…or at least that’s what it used to mean.  The center had been closed for over a year…and I guess things have changed.   I just had to blog about this in my long running notes on gentrification and DC…the Shaw area in particular.

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Gentrification in DC: 2 new gay clubs near Howard University

Let me first say, I Love the Gays.  Lesbians, gay men…I like to party with the kids, ok.  So, from time to time I read DC’s free gay newspaper, MetroWeekly.  Today I happened to pick it up and learned that the former Kili’s Cafe/Club 2k9 is currently undergoing a transformation.  2 of the top club masterminds in DC, Ed Baily and John Guggenmos, will christen this new gay hotspot “Town“.   For those of you not familiar, the location is at 8th and Florida Ave/U Street NW.  It’s around the corner from Tropicana (a Jamaican restaurant) and 930 Club.  Right down the street you will find Nellie’s Sports Bar, a gay sports bar that opened in July, on the corner of 9th and U Street NW, previously an Ethiopian spot.

The opening of these two gay friendly spots is to me another sign of how gentrification is changing DC.  Having attended Howard University in the 90’s, the area that these clubs are located would not have been the most gay friendly place in the crack ravaged Shaw neighborhood of 80’s and 90’s DC.  Former Go Go loving and Reggae loving patrons of certain establishments on U street and the surrounding areas may not have welcomed these DC residents and friends. Recently, only a mile or two away a gay bar, Be Bar on 9th NW near the convention center, faced challenges from its neighbors, 2 Shaw community churches, in securing a liquor license.  Will there be challenges to Town?  Will the Ethiopian businesses or Jamaican patrons of Tropicana have an issue with the new crowd?  Likely, no.  And that is the way things should be.  People should be able to live free, regardless of sexual orientation.

However, it’s clear that Shaw is changing.  It’s not getting blacker, more diverse yes, but it’s African American community is getting smaller, and to a degree…more marginalized.  Where is the new hip hop club, new Go Go spot?  I wonder how long the long running open mics up and down U street will survive.  Will jazz spots like Twins Jazz and Bohemian Caverns bow to something that looks more like the Rock and Roll Hotel on H street NE?  I don’t know…there was a time when I would have said it couldn’t happen.  That time is long gone.

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Filed under african american, black, gentrification, opinion, washington dc

NAACP files suit against lenders for discrimination: You know you can’t pay for the house anyway

I know of so many black people who got into big, suburban houses, away from the “HOOD” with these predatory lenders…living it up in brand new townhouses here Prince Georges County and DC.  Between 2000-2006, it was like a mass exodus from DC, contributing to the growing gentrification.  I know the crack years were bad, and I guess the flash backs were getting to negroes.  Now that the housing market is busting, and people are projecting record foreclosures, it’s going to get real tight for Sista and Brother Boho in the Suburbs.  But dayum, why would you pay $280,000 for a condo in Southeast D.C anyway.  You know that kind of property value will not hold.  You can’t rent that joint out when Barry Farms is in walking distance.  A Middle Eastern friend of mine told me that he and his wife are very upset that they’ve lost $90,000 in value on their home since buying 2 years ago in VA.  That is a hell of a hit.  I don’t know what yall are going to do PG, but maybe the NAACP will help.

“The NAACP filed suit in Los Angeles on Wednesday against 11 mortgage lenders, including Ameriquest, Washington Mutual and Citigroup, accusing them of offering black borrowers subprime loans with worse rates than other applicants. The federal discrimination suit, which seeks class-action status, cites a 2006 study by the Center for Responsible Lending, which found that when income and credit risk were equal, blacks were 31 to 34 percent more likely than whites to get higher-rate, more expensive subprime loans.

Recently, the Federal Reserve Board also concluded blacks were more likely to pay higher prices for mortgages than whites, according to the suit.

The NAACP alleges the lenders are violating the Fair Housing, Equal Credit Opportunity and Civil Rights acts.

“These statistical disparities are not mere happenstance, but instead result from a systematic and predatory targeting of African-Americans,” the suit states.” – MSNBC.com (Click here to read the rest of the story.)

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Gentrification in Washington DC and the Big Bear Cafe

“Gentrification, or urban gentrification, is a phenomenon in which low-cost, physically deteriorated neighborhoods undergo physical renovation and an increase in property values, along with an influx of wealthier residents who may displace the prior residents.”

One of my favorite examples of gentrification in Washington DC can be found at the Big Bear Cafe in NW. The blurb about their opening is so “new DC”.

“We’re finally open! And offering excellent coffee and espresso from Counter Culture Coffee; fair trade and organic teas from Rishi Tea; and a selection of pastries from Hawthorne Fine Breakfast Pastries.”

When I pass by, which is often, on my way to U Street or Howard University I rarely see an African American face enjoying the coffee culture. Maybe the long term residents aren’t into Rishi Tea. Maybe the crackheads hanging out in the LeDroit Park Playground across the street are too amazed at the sight of this former-corner store turned soho style coffee establishment to inquire about the fine pastries. The juxtapositioning is striking. The locals call it LeDroit, “they call it “Bloomingdale”. Coffee shop across from a crack market. Farmer’s Market in walking distance to 2 SOME (So others might eat) locations. Striking.

But in the end it’s not a right or wrong, a good or bad. The only color that is important in all of this is green. No black, no white, no brown, no olive, no yellow, no gold…just green.

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