Keeping Up with the Jonzee still at the right spot.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Like We Couldn't See It Coming

I lived in DC for nearly five years. And while I am no expert on DC life, as an outsider with a certain expertise on community development initiatives and a bent for urban living, I think I can rightfully say, that it is no surprise that African Americans in DC are losing influence as this article purports. Three top black brass have been removed? That's not a surprise. And I expect more of this type of thing to come. Of course question still remains how effective were these folks prior to their removal of course. After all DC's old school patronage system wreaks of corruption and perhaps this is an attempt to correct more of it. But there is some truth to the fear that native residents--particularly the black ones are losing out much like Harlem.

No doubt DC is still Chocolate City--but much less so. Before you know it, the District will have to change those "Taxation Without Representation" quotes on the license plates because the new clearly majority folks are not gonna have it. I get why so many black folks want to move to the suburbs. I imagine that growing up in the District when shit was rough--high crime rate, low to no property appreciation, city broke as hell--would make anyone want to move. But how can folks be mad about it, when in some ways folks just gave it up. Perhaps its the fact that when gentrification happens, the gentrifiers start looking at the native residents like they are the ones in foreign territory. Perhaps, the value of the city escapes them. I don't know. But in someways, the loss of African American influence can be attributed to the fact that the black middle class, in large part, chose to relocate.

In other ways, it is purely District government's lack of planning means by which the upending of social balance might play out. Under Anthony Williams, the District did a reprehensible job in terms of community development efforts to correct the social balances that gentrification can have in terms of displacing residents. NYC has many financing programs and has wielded its influence in development by creating legislation to make sure there is some balance to the economic changes that occur--to try to maintain some semblence of mixed income. The District has simply maintained the attitude "Let PG take as many folks as they want." Other than piece meal home ownership programs, the District has provided little assistance in terms of developing low and moderate income housing. The Fenty administration is too late to stem the tide in that respect.

Suffice to say, sooner than later Chocolate City will at the best be French Vanilla City.


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