Excellent Article on Gentrification and DC

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If you haven't seen it you need to. "Confessions of a Black Gentrifier" by Shani O. Hilton that appeared in the City Paper is one of the better articles on demographic change called gentrification looking at black and some white newcomers. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

On jobs-"Simply put, for some of us, the Washington metro area is one of the best places to move to in the country. For the rest, not so much. Newcomers to D.C. of any race tend to arrive for the same kind of high-powered jobs, the kind of jobs you can't get without education and social capital. The people who are already struggling to find work when newcomers get here, though, are likely to be black."

On people of any race taking advantage of opportunities- "It's funny that he says "anybody," since the story that gets told most often is about an influx of whites taking advantage of low rents and high wages, displacing solid black communities that have occupied territory for generations. Yet black people of means--who certainly fit the category of "anybody"--do the same."

But my favorite statements in the whole piece quotes Decker Ngongang and Chris Wallace:

"I'm a black male in D.C. and I have never been to jail and I have a job. I can't help but be present to that," Ngongang says. He describes a recent outing when he took the day off from work: "I walked to the Starbucks at 14th and Irving and there may have been 100 black males that I passed who were doing nothing in the middle of the day." It's frustrating, he adds. "A lot of my black male peers are lost sometimes. What the hell do we do?"

Wallace doesn't have an answer, either. "I feel like a lot of the rampant unemployment is not due to lack of opportunities, it's due to lack of education."

The bolding and underlining is mine. There are jobs and opportunities in this city (compared to central Florida), that's why I moved to this area in the first place. However, you have to skills and education to take advantage of them.

One commenter gives Ms. Hilton some grief over this bit:

While D.C.'s black majority has never controlled the city's wealth, a strong black middle class developed during the middle of the last century thanks to federal government hiring. Although these positions were rarely high-level ones, they were dependable jobs with benefits--something hard to come by for people who were often the children of sharecroppers--and they're what some of us still laughingly refer to as "good gub'mint jobs."

One could question the metrics by which she measures and determines "the city's wealth". My aunts are the kids of the sharecroppers, and they've retired (though it's called the "R" word 'cause somebody doesn't want to be reminded she's old), one from a good non-profitish job and the other from teaching. My great uncle escaped the farms of NC to be a postal carrier in DC. My uncle started somewhere in an agency and wound up in the end being one of those overpaid contractors I like to complain about. The goodness of the guv'mint/ gub'mint was its stablity while you use that 1st one as a step on your way up. It is a pity when too many of us linger at the bottom of the stairwell.

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