“There is this hope that Vincent Gray will do a good job”


A City Divided looks at D.C's issues with class, gentrification and more.

Yesterday, I posted an in-depth discussion with Jeremy Borden, Managing Editor of “A City Divided“, a special edition of the American Observer. Today, I’m serving up an interview with Dan Merica, who wrote “Different worlds reflected in the barber’s mirror” for the project.

Why barbershops?

Ever since I was young, I have found Barbershops interesting. People who come in don’t know each other, but they are still comfortable enough to talk. I was always fascinated by the range of conversations that happened. When I thought of this piece, I wanted to pick something that the two wards had in common. I considered ice cream parlors, bars, hardware stores…something that both wards have, but barbershops were the perfect place.

Which patrons were most interesting to talk to?

There was a guy named Tucker, he was the focus of the piece, he had just got out of jail– his perspective really struck me.

He grew up in Ward 8, he comes back, and he sees the same problems. In 14 years, you’d think a lot had changed, but not much had changed between then and now. The barbers were very interesting, too. Prince Rasheed is a really nice guy. He was a good facilitator– great at starting a conversation and then letting whoever is in his chair continue that. That’s very helpful to a reporter.

Which patrons were more interested in talking to you?

In Ward 8, they wanted to talk more. There are a lot of different factors why…unemployment is high in ward 8, so they have time to hang out in barbershops. It’s almost like a community center.

What was the most surprising thing you discovered?

There are similarities between these two vastly different Wards; I think there is this hope that Vincent Gray will do a good job, for the good of the whole city. People would say, “He may not have been my choice, but he’s our mayor”. Hopefully he can live up to his rhetoric.

What’s next for you?

I have a semester left of school. I’m starting to apply for internships, job opportunities. I hope to stay in D.C. I’m originally from Las Vegas, NV, went to college in Boston, but I’d like to work here. I’d like to do political reporting.

Anything else?

I’m proud to have my name on “A City Divided”. Everyone involved deserves a lot of credit. We hope to continue this, and I think you can count on AU to continue doing things like this. I’ll give you a shameless plug– you can see more at americanobserver.net.

Thanks. I appreciate the shameless and will definitely include that.