Is DC interested in keeping the Black middle class? IDK

1900 blk houseSo I’ve read the report out of Georgetown University’s report State of African Americans in DC: Employment,  and as a member of the black middle class there is nothing, zero, in the report about keeping the middle class Afro-American families in DC. The purpose of the report (PDF), as stated on page 2, is to analyze trends and “offer ideas about how to halt the flow of African Americans out of Washington, D.C.” However, the report I read was about attempting to support low and no income people in DC, who in our city are primarily people of color.

There is an error everyone makes, even I make this mistake from time to time, and that is the equation: Afro-American=Low Income. Yes, the median household income of African American households is less than White American households, but the median income is not necessarily low income.  But to be fair this related to the Mayor’s Commission of African American Affairs, and its mission is primarily focused on low-income African Americans.

The report doesn’t completely ignore the Black middle class, it mentions the flight of the AfAm middle class from the city and a decline in the Black middle class. It also mention’s the former Marion Barry’s contribution. Before he was known for crack and sex, Barry did grow the Black middle class in DC with contracts requiring minority businesses and hiring a lot of people for DC government jobs. Unfortunately, many of those middle class DC government workers wandered across the border to PG County. The problem with making DC government offices a Black employment program are a lot of people who didn’t answer the damned phone when you needed city services, but I digress.

This report, because its focus is not creating and keeping a Black middle class, doesn’t even suggest doing what Barry did (at least with the creation part).

I should also mention that DC lacks a white low class community, so like the error of equating black with poor, there is the habit of equating white= middle class/ rich. Therefore, most programs for low income populations will be for people of color, and more often African Americans.

Yes, I am faulting the report for being something other than what I would like it to be. I want it to show how DC can grow and keep a Black middle class. DC seems like a place with racially diverse workplaces so I’m not sure what more DC DOES, can do for equal opportunities for the kind of jobs being created in the city. The Project Empowerment doesn’t seem to work with the kind of careers that lead people to the middle class. SYEP is hit or miss on the path to the middle class.

The report does say: “The city must create a pipeline from its high schools to careers such as nursing, radiology, EMT, and physician’s assistants, which typically pay a living wage or better. D.C. can start by reconfiguring the Career Academies and CTE programs administered by DCPS to be geared toward these careers.” Yes, something beyond a living wage to a thriving wage should be a goal.

Regarding housing there is nothing mentioned for the Black middle class. There is a program, actually a whole DC agency that could help the Black middle class become homeowners. The DC Housing Finance Agency has HPAP, which helps with the downpayment, with strings…… DCHFA has various homebuying assistance programs which can help people buy their first home in DC and homeowners are more likely to stay, or stay longer than renters.

I think it is a good thing to try to keep a sizable African American population in the District, for the sake of keeping the city a comfortable place for people like me and bi-racial families like mine. I think DC does itself a disservice not to try to make sure that a chunk of the AfAm community is middle class and figure out how to keep them/us.

 

When you find someone on the sidewalk call 911

Guy sleeping in front of Liquor StoreI call 911 a lot.

Not everyday a lot but more than other citizens it seems. I call when the guys selling heroin on the corner contain too many guys or the odd child (bring your children to work day!). I call when I witness an accident. I call when I see domestic abuse playing itself out in public spaces. And in recent days I call when I find someone in my residential neighborhood passed out, semi-passed out or exhibiting irrational behavior on the sidewalk.

Now, I tend not to do this for people in commercial areas or in front of stores, like the gentleman in the photo. I did once for an old guy who wanted to lay down in the street at 7th & P St NW. If he stayed in the street a cabbie or someone not paying attention might have run over his feet when making a quick right on to P. People passed out or experiencing problems in less traveled areas are more unusual and deserve attention. People passed out in the usual areas, I ignore.

So you find someone passed out or not particularly lucid on the sidewalk near your townhome, nowhere near a store, church or park, what do you do? Call 911. They are going to ask a lot of questions. Figure out what address you’re closest to. Decide if the situation needs police or EMS or both. I tend to go with just EMS unless the person seems violent. Figure out if the person is breathing. If you can, stay with the person until the EMS show up.

I can’t say if I’m seeing more passed out or about to pass out people because of the opioid epidemic. They aren’t crack heads, crack heads were a little different. They aren’t drunks, that, I can smell that difference. Something is going on, but I don’t know what.