DCentric » Race and Class http://dcentric.wamu.org Race, Class, The District. Wed, 16 May 2012 20:20:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Copyright © WAMU Can A Party Change Perceptions Of Anacostia? http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/04/can-a-party-change-perceptions-of-anacostia/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/04/can-a-party-change-perceptions-of-anacostia/#comments Tue, 24 Apr 2012 21:15:35 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=15567 Continue reading ]]>

Nahal Tavangar / @NahalTav

About 1,200 people attended the fourth annual Cherry Blast party in Anacostia.

Trapeze artists hovered above a crowd. A band played electronic music as green lasers flashed through the room. Nearby, people created silk-screened T-shirts, a video installation played against the wall and the crowd tossed a large, clear plastic bubble filled with pink balloons in the air.

The annual Cherry Blast event on Saturday night was in many ways a creative, warehouse party. It pulled together all sorts of artistic and musical spectacles that attracted a racially diverse crowd of 1,200 willing to pay $10 a ticket to enter.

But this party didn’t happen in Northwest or near gentrifying H Street NE. Cherry Blast, produced by The Pink Line Project, took place in a vacant police evidence warehouse in Anacostia, and drew attendees largely from other parts of town, many of whom were young and white.

Anacostia has a rich history, but in recent years the neighborhood has developed a reputation as dangerous and poor, a perception that local activists have been battling. It’s a mostly black neighborhood that doesn’t typically attract many white people.

Cherry Blast comes on the heels of Lumen8Anacostia, a weekend of art events and pop-ups held throughout the neighborhood. These events have given people, who normally don’t trek east of the Anacostia River, a reason to visit the neighborhood. But in doing so, they’ve raised questions about race and class.

Pink Line founder Philippa Hughes and her team organized the Cherry Blast event, the fourth in a series that’s taken place in various parts of the city, including its first year in Anacostia.

“I’ve really been interested in Anacostia in the sense that I feel like it’s on the cusp of becoming something, a place where people want to go,” Hughes said. “I like being in places that are changing, and becoming better.”

Cherry Blast differed from Lumen8Anacostia, which Pink Line was also a part of. Lumen8 was “very diverse and a more community-oriented event,” Hughes said, while Cherry Blast gets widely promoted, drawing people “who don’t have any idea of what Anacostia is about.”

But Hughes didn’t throw Cherry Blast in order to put Anacostia on the map. “That’s one thing, and an important thing,” she said. “But what it’s about for me is showing that D.C. is more than politicians and lawyers. It also has a thriving arts and culture scene. Some of it is happening in Anacostia, and some of it [in other parts] of the city.”

There’s also a practical aspect to hold the event in Anacostia — D.C. has few, large spaces that can be converted for such uses.

The crowd at Cherry Blast keeps balloons afloat with the aid of a giant sheet. Performance artists and dancers entertained the crowd at Cherry Blast. Cherry Blast was held at 2235 Shannon Place SE. About 1,200 people attended the fourth annual Cherry Blast party in Anacostia. Attendees snap photos of the sweeping view of D.C. from the 4th floor of the warehouse Cherry Blast was held in an Anacostia warehouse, which offered sweeping views of the city. Margot MacDonald performs inside of a fort-like art installation on the 4th floor of an Anacostia warehouse. Cherry Blast party goers could create silk screened shirts. Yellow school buses transported people from Dupont Circle and H Street NE to the Anacostia warehouse. A trapeze artist balances above the crowd at Cherry Blast. Busboys and Poets set up a "pop-up" cafe inside of Cherry Blast. Cherry Blast attendees could edit photos using interactive projections.

Holding such an event in Anacostia can entail challenges. Most cities have lines, places where people are told not to go unless they’re from the area. As development and demographics shift in D.C., so do those lines. And perhaps art events and parties like Cherry Blast can help change those lines, too.

To make it easier to get across the river, Pink Line charted yellow school buses running from Dupont Circle and the H Street corridor. Taking a bus that drops you off directly in front of a party in a warehouse doesn’t provide many opportunities for interaction with the people and businesses in the neighborhood. But some who attended Cherry Blast forsook the charted buses in favor of the Metro, including first-timers to the area, who walked approximately half a mile from the Anacostia Metro station to the warehouse.

Iris Ho, Lan Nguyen and Michelle Wang rode Metro to Cherry Blast. On their walk to the warehouse, someone in a car rolled down his window and said to them, “Aren’t you guys scared? You’re in the hood.” Nguyen, of Columbia Heights, laughed, saying, “Well, I wasn’t.”

The trio said they recognized that they may seem out of place in the neighborhood.

Abigail Williams of Adams Morgan admitted that she “was a little nervous” coming to Anacostia at night.

“But once you’ve been somewhere, then you feel a lot better,” she said. Now she’s planning to return to the neighborhood during the day so she can check out the remodeled Anacostia Library.

“There is such a psychological barrier. That barrier is broken for a brief bit with these events.”

People really only go places because they have a reason, whether it’s work, friends or attractions. Nikki Palmer of Bloomingdale made her first visit to Anacostia to attend Cherry Blast. She said that she and others she knows don’t typically come east of the river because nothing has drawn them there yet. She’s heard for years to avoid Anacostia, but it’s “a stigma that I’m losing now.”

Such perceptions are something that Michael Shank of Anacostia tries to tackle. A towering white man, he moved to the neighborhood 2 years ago, partially “to challenge myself both with the race and class issues that D.C. has not resolved,” he said. He’s found an incredible sense of community in the process. Shank now tries to get his friends to visit, but it’s not easy.

“There is such a psychological barrier,” Shank said over a DJ playing blaring music at Cherry Blast. “That barrier is broken for a brief bit with these events.”

Getting that barrier to come down more permanently is another, and more complicated, undertaking, he added.

Sense of place?

Rishi Chakrabarty of Mount Pleasant comes to Anacostia regularly for soccer practice. “You can’t get a sense of Anacostia by being here,” he said of Cherry Blast. Nearby, a singer performed from inside of a massive art installation.

“I feel ambivalent about it being in Anacostia,” Nguyen said. “It’s not that people from around here are all coming to this event.”

“It’s the yuppies in D.C.,” added Wang.

There were some Anacostia locals were in the crowd. Anacostia resident Willy Hamlett, who assisted with the event, said that such happenings are ways to “open the neighborhood up to different types of people.”

Although it’s good that Cherry Blast brought newcomers to the neighborhood, more importantly for resident (and Congress Heights on the Rise blogger) Nikki Peele is what the event offered Anacostia residents.

“The real win is it brings people who are from the neighborhood and gives them something to do,” she said. “… It makes no sense and it concerns me when myself and my neighbors have to get in a car or take the Metro to go across town in order to do the things we want to do.”

In the beginning of the night, all-female Brazilian drumming group Batalá Washington performed. Shank said a number of kids he recognized from the neighborhood showed up and danced along to the music.

“Here’s an opportunity for engagement, for interacting with the community. Let’s build on that,” he said. “It’s a starter.”

Images courtesy of Nahal Tavangar (@NahalTav).
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Five Facts About D.C.’s Gap Between Rich and Poor http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/03/five-facts-about-d-c-s-gap-between-rich-and-poor/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/03/five-facts-about-d-c-s-gap-between-rich-and-poor/#comments Thu, 08 Mar 2012 16:15:48 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=14573 Continue reading ]]>

401kcalculator.org / Flickr

The District continues to have one of the largest gaps between the rich and poor. Income inequality in large cities is higher only in Atlanta and Boston.

Top earners make 29 times more a year than the lowest earners, according to a new report by local think tank DC Fiscal Policy Institute. Researchers examinesd2010 census data and found some startling figures that illustrate the city’s income gap. Here are five facts about the District’s gulf between rich and poor residents:

The rich are much richer here.

The richest of D.C. residents, those in the top 5 percent income bracket, make $473,000 a year, which is the highest in the nation — the average among all large cities is $292,000. D.C. is only behind San Francisco in how much the top 20 percent make, too. But the bottom 20 percent of earners in D.C. make $9,100, which is close to the average among large cities.

The middle class makes more in D.C. than in other places.

D.C.’s middle-income households make $61,000 a year, which is higher than in all but four other large cities.

Wages increased at different rates for the poor and rich.

The growing income gap partially reflects a national phenomenon in which the rich saw their incomes rise at a much faster pace than the poor did over the past three decades. When taking inflation into account, high-wage earners in D.C. made 44 percent more in 2009 than they did in the 1979. Low-wage workers, on the other hand, saw their earnings rise by only 14 percent.

Credentials are key.

The gap between job requirements and skills helps explain the District’s unemployment disparity. In 2011, unemployment was 24 percent for D.C. residents with just a high school diploma. For those with a college degree, unemployment was 4 percent.

Wages have also grown at different rates based on education levels. For D.C. residents with only a high school diploma, wages have increased by only 1 percent since the 1970s (again, adjusting for inflation). But those with college degrees saw their wages grow by 30 percent.

Income gap is reflected in gap between the blacks and whites.

The top 20 percent of D.C.’s earners make $3.15 for every $1 people in the bottom 20 percent make. That figure doesn’t change much when comparing how much blacks and whites in D.C. make; for every $1 a black person in D.C. earns, a white person earns $3.06.

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Why Retirement is Tougher for Blacks, Latinos http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/02/why-retirement-is-tougher-for-blacks-latinos/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/02/why-retirement-is-tougher-for-blacks-latinos/#comments Wed, 22 Feb 2012 19:19:11 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=14263 Continue reading ]]>

Mario Tama / Getty Images

Senior citizens attend a meeting with their senator about Social Security at the Isabella Geriatric Center in New York City. Black seniors, on average, rely more heavily on Social Security than whites.

Unemployment rates are higher for blacks and Latinos than for whites, but there’s another disparity at the end of the career spectrum: retirement. Black and Latino retirees have a tougher time financially than their white counterparts, according to a new University of California, Berkeley study [PDF]. Below are three reasons why:

Poverty is higher among black and Latino seniors than white seniors.

The poverty rate among all seniors is about 9 percent. For white seniors, it’s 7 percent, while for black and Latino seniors, it’s 19 percent. People of color over 60 years old are more likely to live in poverty because they rely on fewer sources of retirement income than white seniors, according to the study’s authors.

Black and Latino retirees are less likely to have a workplace retirement plan.

There’s a few reasons behind this. For one, whites are more likely to work at places offering retirement plans, such as 401(k)s: nearly 69 percent of white adult workers’ employers offer plans, compared to almost 62 percent of black workers and 43 percent of Latino workers.

But just because an employer offers a plan doesn’t mean a worker will sign up for it. Most plans are voluntary and not all workers (such as part-timers) qualify. About 55 percent of adult white workers participate in an employer-sponsored plan, while 48 of black workers participate and only 32 percent of Latino workers are signed up.

Black and Latino retirees rely more heavily on Social Security than whites, even though whites get more in benefits.

White seniors are more likely to live in families receiving Social Security benefits than racial minorities, and whites get more in benefits. Blacks and Latinos who receive Social Security checks get 26 percent less in average annual benefits than white seniors because of lower lifetime earnings. But racial minorities rely more heavily on such benefits for retirement income: more than 30 percent of black seniors and 26 percent of Latino seniors count on Social Security for almost all income, compared to 22 percent of whites seniors.


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Mapping Local Poverty Trends Over Time http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/02/mapping-local-poverty-trends-over-time/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/02/mapping-local-poverty-trends-over-time/#comments Tue, 07 Feb 2012 19:28:38 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=14003 Continue reading ]]> Most of the D.C.-metro area’s poor live in the suburbs, but the city is home to nearly all of the region’s “dangerously high-poverty” neighborhoods. That’s according to the Urban Institute, which developed this interactive map (seen below) showing concentrations of poverty by race throughout the region. Neighborhoods where poverty rates are 30 percent or higher are considered “high-poverty.”

Poor whites and Latinos are more likely to live in the D.C.’s suburbs than poor blacks. The researchers note:

High-poverty neighborhoods — like those east of the Anacostia River in DC — didn’t occur “naturally” nor do they reflect the “choices” of poor families about where to live. Instead, these places represent the legacy of decades of racial discrimination, legally sanctioned segregation, and public housing policies. And our map shows just how stubborn this legacy is; despite dramatic demographic and economic changes sweeping the Washington region over the past two decades, poor Black families have remained highly concentrated in DC neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River.

You can zoom in to see poverty in the region or in the city, and use the slider to see how it changes over time:


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What To Call Gentrification By Non-Whites: Does Race Matter? http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/02/what-to-call-gentrification-by-non-whites-does-race-matter/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/02/what-to-call-gentrification-by-non-whites-does-race-matter/#comments Fri, 03 Feb 2012 19:27:04 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13949 Continue reading ]]> Gentrification takes place when middle and upper-income people move into low-income communities, which ushers in economic change, reinvestment and development. Jumping back a few weeks ago, a discussion took place on DCentric when we pondered a more specific kind of gentrification: gentefication, which is when low-income, immigrant Latino neighborhoods are gentrified by second-generation, well-to-do Latinos.

So we wondered: is gentrification much different when gentrifiers aren’t white, so much so that it requires its own term?

Alex Baca tweeted that having a separate word for this kind of gentrification is unnecessary:

It's class-based. Don't need fancy names. RT @ On gentrification & rhetoric when non-whites are gentrifiers http://t.co/IrO6Et65

But others argued that gentrification by non-whites does have different implications for neighborhoods. Commenter Gente Negra, wrote:

I have witnesses this phenomena in Orlando, and Miami, in which upper class and affluent African Americans are revitalizing [sp] formerly blighted areas which were once Historically African American communities. In the Orlando Parramore district they have relocated FAMU (an HBCU) Law School, renovated an African American history Museum, built a mixed income housing complex, and relocated the Orlando Magic stadium. Unlike the case when city developers destroyed the Parramore in Orlando, and Overtown in Miami, with I-4 and I-95 respectively. This new form of gentrification and [African American] led gentrification seems to be more sensitive to the preservation of the historical nature of the surrounding areas.

In D.C., gentrification by whites hasn’t necessarily come at the cost of completely wiping out a neighborhood’s history. In some instances, the renewed investment has helped to preserve it. For example, the historic Howard Theatre in Shaw is being renovated at the same time the neighborhood is being gentrified. Honoring a neighborhood’s history can also come with smaller gestures; on H Street NE, restauranteur Joe Englert named one of his restaurants Granville Moore’s as a nod to the building’s former occupant, a renowned African American doctor in the 1950s. Englert told the Washington Post that knowing the building’s history gives “the neighborhood a depth and it shows that these main streets didn’t just spring from the head of Zeus.”

But what kind of impact does paying such homage to the past have on longtime residents, some of whom may be getting priced out of their neighborhoods? Another DCentric commenter wrote:

From my understanding, gentrification is simply the revitalization of a neighborhood by newcomers. Displacement refers to outpricing and removal of formerly entrenched communities. Thus, I don’t consider supposed gentrification in Anacostia to be of the same, much hated ilk as that in other parts of the city. Sure, wealthier blacks are moving in, but has business followed? Where is the redevelopment? Who is being “kicked out” because of their presence? Exclusionary gentrification is associated with whites because its businesses cater solely to white people, unfortunately. Anacostia is not a gentrified neighborhood. I would agree that “gentrification” by blacks and Latinos requires its own terminology.
Commenter monkeyrotica took issue with that thought, writing that, by-and-large, new businesses in gentrifying neighborhoods are frequented by people of similar incomes, regardless of race:
Are middle class businesses [SP] geared towards whites that much different from middle class businesses geared towards African Americans? Sure, they each tend to go to different nightclubs, barbershops, and hair salons, but they both go to the same upscale eateries, grocery shops, and clothing stores that underclass residents have been priced out of.

What’s your take: what does gentrification by non-whites look like? Is gentrification all the same, no matter the race of the gentrifier?

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Five Facts About Race, Class and D.C. Students http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/five-facts-about-race-class-and-d-c-students/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/five-facts-about-race-class-and-d-c-students/#comments Tue, 31 Jan 2012 13:00:30 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13686 Continue reading ]]>

Paul J. Richards / Getty Images

Thomson Elementary School students listen during class. D.C.'s school-aged population doesn't exactly mirror its general population.

The D.C. school-aged population doesn’t necessarily reflect the changing demographics of the city. Here are five facts about race, class and D.C. students from a new study commissioned by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education and conducted by nonprofit IFF:

The school-aged population is disproportionately black.

Although nearly half of D.C. residents are black, about 70 percent of school-aged children are black.

The Hispanic student population comes close to reflecting the larger Hispanic population.

While a little more than 9 percent of D.C. residents are Hispanic, about 11 percent of school-aged children are Hispanic.

Whites are more likely to opt out of public schools.

The District’s white population has grown in recent decades, but its school-aged population hasn’t kept pace. While about 35 percent of D.C. residents are white, only 14 percent of D.C. school-aged children are white. The study also noted that whites are more likely than their black peers to opt out of public education in favor of private schools; 9 percent of DCPS students are white.

Students are disproportionately poor.

A DCPS or charter student is more likely to be living in poverty than the average District resident. About two-thirds of DCPS and 75 percent of charter school students receive free or reduced lunches; to qualify, a family of four has to make $41,348 or less a year. Only about 30 percent of D.C. households fall into the same income category.

Well-performing schools are found everywhere.

There’s a higher concentration of top performing schools in wealthier parts of town west of Rock Creek Park, but such schools also exist in low-income communities, according to the study.

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State of the Union: DCentric Outtakes http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/state-of-the-union-dcentric-outtakes/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/state-of-the-union-dcentric-outtakes/#comments Wed, 25 Jan 2012 15:13:34 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13623 Continue reading ]]>

Saul Loeb-Pool / Getty Images

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill.

President Barack Obama devoted much of Tuesday night’s State of the Union address to leveling class disparities between the middle class and the very rich.

He didn’t embrace the rhetoric of the Occupy Movement – namely that 99 percent of Americans are suffering while 1 percent hold the wealth. But the president did say that 98 percent of Americans make less than $250,000, and that their taxes shouldn’t go up. Raising taxes on the wealthy is an issue with local relevance; the D.C. Council in 2011 narrowly approved a tax hike on those making $350,000 or more a year.

President Obama pushed for a resurgence of American manufacturing to combat joblessness. He also said there are available jobs in the technology and science industries, but not many people are qualified to fill them. Such a “skills gap” exists in D.C., where many of the unemployed lack the credentials needed to fill available jobs. President Obama made a “national commitment to train 2 million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job.” That commitment may be easier said than done. D.C.’s job training programs have been fraught with problems and don’t always lead to jobs. There are current efforts underway to reform them so such programs are more effective.

Immigration also had a brief moment during the State of the Union address. Deportations have reached record levels under President Obama. He called for “comprehensive immigration reform” but failed to give specifics. He did, however, urge the passage of the DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for undocumented college students and soldiers.

The issue of race was barely mentioned, with President Obama focusing mostly on class issues, despite the fact that class disparities fall sharply along racial lines. For instance, the black unemployment rate is more than double the white unemployment rate. Here’s the most explicit mention of race, and it came as President Obama directly addressed members of Congress:

Those of us who’ve been sent here to serve can learn a thing or two from the service of our troops.  When you put on that uniform, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian, Latino, Native American; conservative, liberal; rich, poor; gay, straight.  When you’re marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails.  When you’re in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one nation, leaving no one behind.

Do you think race should have been more directly addressed? What are your thoughts on Tuesday night’s State of the Union address? You can read the entire speech here.

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Job Training and D.C. Unemployment By Race http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/d-c-unemployment-by-race-and-job-training/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/d-c-unemployment-by-race-and-job-training/#comments Fri, 20 Jan 2012 13:00:02 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13555 Continue reading ]]> WAMU 88.5′s Patrick Madden has been reporting on the ineffectiveness of past D.C. job training practices and changes the city is making to how it prepares residents for jobs. His investigation revealed that much of job training money went to training people to be bus drivers and Metro train operators. But such training programs haven’t resulted in graduates getting jobs.

The debate over job training has particular relevance for D.C.’s black and Hispanic communities. This chart shows 2010 D.C. unemployment rates by race, with the numbers coming courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics [PDF]:

D.C. Unemployment By Race (2010)


DCentric has previously explored the causes behind D.C.’s unemployment disparities. One major reason is the mismatch between the skills people have and those required by District jobs. For instance, unemployment is at 25 percent in Ward 8, where more than 20 percent of residents lack a high school diploma. Without effective job training, can that unemployment number go down by very much?

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Protesting Social Service Groups in the Name of Economic Development http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/rallying-against-social-services-in-the-name-of-economic-development/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/rallying-against-social-services-in-the-name-of-economic-development/#comments Mon, 09 Jan 2012 19:44:01 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13219 Continue reading ]]>

tedeytan / Flickr

Anacostia's commercial corridor is filled with vacancies.

A vocal group of Anacostia residents have been rallying against a nonprofit’s plans to open transitory housing along the neighborhood’s business corridor. Calvary Women’s Services hopes to open along Good Hope Road, SE by summer, and provide semi-permanent housing for 50 formerly homeless women.

On the one hand, the objections can be viewed as typical NIMBYism. There’s also fear that placing transitory housing on an underutilized commercial corridor will cripple future economic development — while many of D.C.’s neighborhoods have undergone a transformation in which vacant buildings are converted into coffee shops and sit-down restaurants, Anacostia has lagged behind.

But the opposition in Anacostia is complex, which many residents say has become a dumping ground for social services because of the community’s demographics.

“There’s this perception about Anacostia that it’s all a bunch of poor black people who are out here struggling, and that they’d be happy to have [more social services] here,” said Nikki Peele, Congress Heights on the Rise blogger.

Peele, along with a standing room crowd, packed a Ward 8 community meeting Thursday night where they slammed Calvary representatives for not having met with residents before its move was practically a done deal. “Disrespect” was mentioned throughout the meeting. Some, such as Phil Pannel, suggested the nonprofit didn’t feel the need to approach residents because they “knew perfectly well that this is a dis-empowered community.”

When asked why Calvary chose Anacostia, Calvary board president Tracy Ballard said “it was the right place at the right time.” The deal was a good one; the nonprofit bought the vacant Anacostia building for $950,000 in December 2010, with a $3 million plan to convert it into 14,000 square-feet of living space for 50 women, and serve 100 meals a day. The purchase was a matter of right, meaning Calvary didn’t have to go through any rezoning processes that would give residents a chance to prevent it.

Elahe Izadi / DCentric

Residents during a Ward 8 meeting hold signs protesting transitory housing for homeless women.

Calvary representatives tried to reassure residents; the building would be secure and loiters would be moved along. They also tried convincing the assembled crowd that they won’t be a business-killer, using as evidence all of the development that happened in their current neighborhood.

“We’ve been in Gallery Place-Chinatown since our founding in 1983,” Thompson said. “[Now], there’s a Starbucks across the street, a Busboys and Poets, all of that was built up around us.”

But the reality east of the Anacostia River is a different one than in Chinatown. Some development in the works is intended to spur more growth. That includes the ongoing $300 million 11th Street Bridge project, which will provide an easier connection between Anacostia and west of the river.

“[The bridge] was supposed to bring us back into the rest of the District of Columbia,” ANC8A Commissioner Greta Fuller said. “What do we have at the foot of the bridge? A transitional housing building.”

The irony is that by relocating to Anacostia, the group could very well better serve Ward 8 residents in need of such assistance — about 36 percent of Ward 8 residents live below the poverty line, according to census estimates. And that’s not lost on opponents of the project.

“I’m not personally against transitory housing for women who need help, but in its proper place,” said Edith Cromwell, an Anacostia Economic Development Corp. board member. “We’ve been promised this becoming a business, commercial district for a long time… This is economic suicide.”


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Race, Class and the District: Top Five Stories of 2011 http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/12/race-class-and-the-district-top-five-stories-of-2011/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/12/race-class-and-the-district-top-five-stories-of-2011/#comments Fri, 30 Dec 2011 18:49:50 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13089 Continue reading ]]> As the year comes to a close, DCentric is looking back on the five big stories where race and class intersected. Do you think there’s something we missed? Let us know in the comments section:

Nicholas Kamm / Getty Images

Occupy DC protesters block the intersection of 14th and K streets, NW.

The Occupy Movement spreads around the world and takes root in D.C.

The Occupy Movement began in New York City and spread to other cities, including D.C. Protestors have focused much of their ire on the economic inequality that’s left the nation’s wealth in the hands of a very small minority. There has been a fair share of criticism of the movement, including some targeting its lack of representation of those who have been most hurt by the economic crisis: people of color. In recent weeks, protesters have decamped in numerous cities, but their presence remains in D.C.

D.C. no longer “Chocolate City.”

This was a landmark year for the District when it comes to demographics. D.C.’s black population dipped below the 50 percent mark sometime in February, according to census estimates. This comes after more than four decades of the District being “Chocolate City,” a nickname reflecting its status as a majority-black city. D.C. also led states in population growth in 2011 for the first time in more than 70 years.

terren in Virginia / Flickr

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

The first memorial honoring an African American opens on the National Mall.

Blacks still constitute the largest single racial group in D.C., and have long been at the fore of the District’s political and cultural landscape. One place where African Americans have been noticeably absent is among those memorialized on the National Mall. That changed this year with the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. But it wasn’t all celebration; some took issue with the fact that the sculptor was a Chinese national, while others were dismayed by King’s stoic expression or the quote selection.


D.C. Mayor takes office after an election characterized by a stark racial divide.

Mayor Vincent Gray was sworn into office Jan. 3 after a hotly contested race in which he won the majority of the black vote, while incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty won the majority of the white vote. But despite such racial divisions in the election returns, Mayor Gray has spent much of his time in office touting his “One City” approach to governance. How effective that’s been is debatable, especially since his office and other D.C. lawmakers been embroiled in scandal after scandal.

The District remains one of the most expensive places to live.

While most of America’s cities saw their housing prices drop, D.C.’s continued to rise in 2011. At the same time, the District remained home to stark disparities in just about every aspect of life, from finding a job to eating fresh produce to having Internet access.

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