ONE DC Monthly Voice April 2019


“We have more space and less time. And the love we had for our whole neighborhood now only fits into this wood-frame house in the middle of a quiet block. We don't know the people who live across the street or on either side of us.” -Ibi Zoboi


Make Some Noise! - Resistance through Music

Long-time Shaw residents are accustomed to being greeted by the sounds of Chuck Brown, Rare Essence, or Mambo Sauce as they pass the intersection of 7th and Florida. Donald Campbell has been playing Go-Go music - the D.C. musical specialty that "just goes and goes, the lovechild of blues, funk, salsa, gospel, and soul" - outside his Metro PCS store there for 25 years now. But earlier this month, passersby found the corner eerily quiet. T-Mobile had ordered Donald to turn off his music after a resident in the new luxury apartment complex across the street complained about the noise. Unsurprisingly, these complaints only applied to the go-go music being played by the Black-owned corner business, and not the pricey new beer garden next door, which also plays music outside, and at later hours.

Our community quickly rallied together to defend the cultural hallmark of the neighborhood. An online petition to bring back the music garnered over 80,000 signatures, while the hashtag #DontMuteDC went viral on social media. A few days later, performers and demonstrators packed the streets surrounding the store, both in defense of Donald Campbell, and in unapologetic celebration of D.C. music and culture.

This attempt at literally silencing local tradition struck many as painfully emblematic of the ongoing gentrification battle in Shaw and the District. At the same time that the city tries to immortalize its roots with murals and plaques to Go-Go artists and neighborhood heritage trails, the real-life Washingtonians who contributed to the birth of the musical movement are being displaced. What is being preserved is the ghost of past culture, rather than current living culture and the people keeping it alive.

This is what We Act Radio co-founder Kymone Freeman refers to when he says, unequivocally, "Gentrification is cultural genocide." The word "gentrification" often serves as a euphemism for what is really going on: displacement. It focuses attention on what is supposedly being "gained" through the change - perhaps luxury condos, coffee shops, yoga studios, organic healthfood stores, organic dog-food stores. In this way, the term distracts from what is being lost - affordable housing; laundromats, barbershops, mom-and-pop restaurants, and all manner of Black-owned businesses; local art, music, traditions, and sense of community.

The irony is that gentrifiers are often very interested in the concept of cultural authenticity - "real" cultural products that bring the excitement of the exotic into "their" adopted neighborhoods. They fetishize the customs and even the perceived "grittiness" of a neighborhood, but do not want to have to deal with any of the actual (likely working-class Black and brown) people whose aesthetics they covet. Therefore, local culture is commodified and packaged as novelty products for gentrifiers to consume, while the lives of long-time residents are de-prioritized. Inevitably, over time culture is watered down until it has been erased entirely or turned into a grotesque, empty caricature of its former self.

Resisting cultural erasure will always be an important component of resisting displacement. The incident at 7th and Florida demonstrates some newcomers' appalling lack of respect for D.C. culture, but it also demonstrates the ferocity of our community when we come together and stand up for each other. The uproar surrounding go-go's removal from the neighborhood made national news, and reached the ears of T-mobile's CEO, who reversed the order. Today, Donald Campbell's music is blasting through Shaw once again.


Commemorating Emancipation Day 2019

Tuesday, April 16th marked the 157th anniversary of the day that slavery was legally abolished in D.C., freeing over 3,000 enslaved people living in the District - a crucial turning point in the history of American slavery. 

To commemorate the date, this year ONE DC, in collaboration with We Act Radio, held a Freedom School in Southeast, focusing on elements of D.C. history not taught in our public schools. Residents of all ages participated in lively discussions and educational workshops throughout the day. We were joined by special guests historian Dr. C.R. Gibbs, who spoke on the history of slavery in the District; breathologist Ayo Handy-Kendi, who lead a community meditation session to honor our ancestors and find peace with their memory; and director Mignotae Kebede, who discussed her new documentary "What Happened 2 Chocolate City", which was screened at the event.

Read The Washington Informer coverage here

Participants reflect on issues of education and housing

 

Historian C.R. Gibbs leads a lesson on D.C. history

 

Participants hold small group discussions

 


ONE DC Learning Circle Update
"What if we worked in a job that was actually reaffirming.... that was actually living?" - Jessica Gordon-Nembhard
 
On April 14, the Learning Circle welcomed Jessica Gordon-Nembhard, a member of ONE DC's Shared Leadership Team and author of Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice. The discussion ranged from the history of cooperative efforts among African-Americans, to the present and future efforts of ONE DC to build cooperative enterprises in D.C. 
The Learning Circle is a study group for ONE DC members to come together to study legacies of progressive action and learn from one another. We meet the first Wednesday of each month, from 6-8 PM, at the Black Workers and Wellness Center. 

Our next session is this Wednesday, May 1st, and will focus on the contributions of Ella Jo Baker, a lead organizer in the movement for civil and human rights organizing for 50 years. Her legacy is a guiding influence of ONE DC. Join us to learn and engage with this legacy and discuss what it means for ONE DC's work at the Black Workers and Wellness Center this Wednesday evening! All are welcome!

Click here to RSVP

Grassroots civil rights organizer Ella Jo Baker

Serve Your City Spring 2019 Youth Programming!

Rowing Club (for ages 11-18)
WHEN: Mondays and Wednesdays, 5:00 - 6:30 PM, April 22nd - June 14th
WHERE: Anacostia Community Boathouse, 1900 M Street SE
Get to know the river in our own backyard in a brand new way! Rowers of all abilities are welcome!

Kids Flow Yoga (for ages 9-14)
WHEN: Mondays and Fridays, 4:00 - 5:30 PM, April 22nd - June 10th
WHERE: Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 7th Street SE
A practice dedicated to helping young people of color grow stronger and more confident

Click here for more information!

BRAND NEW College Preparatory Program (for 6th - 12th graders and their families)
We will help you and your children learn how to:

  • Complete College Applications
  • Complete Financial Aid Applications
  • Complete Scholarship Applications
  • Prepare for the SAT/ACT

For more information and to register, email Maurice Cook at info@serveyourcitydc.org


Upcoming Events

Carry It On: A Celebration of Pete Seeger
Saturday, May 4th, 8:00 PM - 11:00 PM
Tommy Douglas Conference Center - 10000 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD
Hosted by Labor Heritage Foundation
The DC Labor Chorus presents “Carry It On: a Celebration of Pete Seeger" on what would have been his 100th Birthday. With Special Guests Joe Uehlein and Anna Grace Uehlein. Be prepared to sing along. Tickets are $25.
Click here to purchase tickets

 

When the Mountains Tremble: Film Screening & Discussion
Friday, May 17 - 7:00 PM
Eaton Cinema, 1201 K St NW
Hosted by the International Mayan League
Join the International Mayan League for a special screening of When the Mountains Tremble to recognize the history of genocide in Guatemala and to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the murder of 20-year-old Maya Mam woman, Claudia Patricia Gómez González, by U.S. Customs & Border Patrol. Her murderin May 2018 remains unresolved and we continue to demand justice!
More info @mayanleague │ info@mayanleague.org


Improv Playshop for Bystander Intervention

Saturday May 18th, 1-2PM Potluck, 2-4PM Skill Practice
Maitri House Intentional Community, 251 Manor Circle, Takoma Park MD 20912
(Parking is available; Buses drop off nearby; 12-15 minute walk from the Takoma Metro Station)
Hosted by The DC Peace Team
Join our advanced nonviolent skills building improv play shop for bystander intervention scenarios, which translates to situations when we unexpectedly encounter conflict, harassment, or violence between other parties. An opportunity to do work with various role-play scenarios that we create, including, for example, incidents of discrimination, micro-aggression, conflict escalation, cat-calling on the street, at the workplace, in the metro, etc. FREE and no prior experience necessary.
Register Here!

 

6th Annual Rodham Institute Summit
Thursday, May 23rd, 8:00 AM - 3:30 PM
Southeast Tennis & Learning Center - 701 Mississippi Ave, SE
Hosted by George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Incorporating the Arts to improve Health and Wellbeing in Washington, D.C. 
Click here for more information


ONE Bit of Good News - ONE DC Intern Sinclair Blue Selected as Truman Scholar!

We're excited to share that our former intern, Sinclair Blue, has been selected as a Truman Scholar!

Sinclair is a D.C. native, currently studying Science, Technology, and International Affairs with a concentration in Global Health at Georgetown University. In addition to working with ONE DC, they serve as Political Action Chair of the Georgetown NAACP Chapter, and Community Outreach Chair for Georgetown University Women of Color. Their hobbies include reading, watercolor painting, and going to see live music. Sinclair hopes to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a joint master's degree in public health and urban planning. They are interested in eventually working on food education, access, and policy; as well as racial and socioeconomic health disparities more broadly in D.C. We are lucky to have them serving our city and can't wait to see what they do next!


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