Black Lives Matter
BLM is not only about racism in policing. It is also about legal, political, and social systems that perpetuate racial inequity throughout American society. The Southwest Voice has sought to raise issues of social justice in our dozen issues and feel no need to issue a statement of self-reconciliation. Our editorial board is made up of community leaders who actively seek to promote social justice in housing, health, and community. We encourage you to join our efforts in Southwest DC Action - a racially diverse coalition of parents, students, educators, retirees, and those with disabilities. Last month, we issued our report, "Promoting Social and Economic Equity in Southwest- Waterfront". Readers are encouraged to endorse this statement.
The murder of George Floyd and the countless Black Lives before him is the tip of the iceberg. The US has chronic and deep inequity.
What We See
The protests in DC and around the country are responding to the most vile, blatant forms of racism - lethal violence under the guise of legal authority.
What We Don't
Racism exists in many other forms. For example, gentrification is shown to consistently displace African Americans where it happens.
Let's Look at SW and Ward 6
20024 Zip Code
Blacks, Poverty - 31%
Whites, Poverty - 5%
White income has seen gains, but Black income has decreased in DC. Prosperity is not widely shared. Read More
The SW Neighborhood Plan dictates that development should be a "model of equity and inclusion". The preponderance of new expensive, single person housing is anything but.
Only 23% of New Residents are Black
% of new residents in SW from two periods ('09-13 & '14-18) that were Black, but that only tells half the story because the shift of low-income African Americans continues to be pushed eastward (Ward 7 and 8). SW is experiencing acute Black displacement due to gentrification. Black people have a right to the city.
Buzzard Point Residents Left Behind
The Buzzard Point areas including Syphax, James Creek, and other communities experience poor health attributed to industrial plants. Construction and increased vehicular pollution are worsening health. Read More
The CHASS recommendations to monitor community health were never implemented. Read More
Ward 6 is the most gentrifying ward in the most intensely gentrifying city in the US. It has been represented by Ward 6 councilor and Alabama-native Charles Allen since 2015. According to DC Lines, "Allen judges the use of $300 million in incentives for the construction of luxury condos and a new waterfront at The Wharf a worthwhile public investment." Read More
Wharf Leading to Inequity
DC initially required the Wharf to be 30% affordable units. That was lowered to 10%. The Wharf has not recruited an adequate number of Black businesses (scroll below to read their justification). The total direct and indirect public subsidies totaled more than $240 million, including $95 million for public land, which the Wharf paid $1.
DC Housing Authority Consistently Displaces
On top of the daily stresses associated with poverty, raising a family, and maintaining health, Greenleaf residents deal with the looming threat of displacement with Greenleaf redevelopment. Build First poses major threats. Read More
"Once again, the city is preparing to demolish the homes of public housing residents before new units are ready for them."
Public Land Sold Cheaply and Leads to Gentrification
Mr. Coy McKinney, JD, and SW residents, mostly African Americans, are appealing the proposed development at 4th and M St. Public land was sold for $20. Plans barely meet the minimum for affordable units (IZ) - 50 of out 598 units.
Poorly maintained public housing
The conditions in public housing can be unlivable (picture from Greenleaf). Nearby land excavation brings rodents. Mold and infrastructure problems are commonly cited. Yet, redevelopment poses major threats to breaking up a community and social support networks.
Mainstream Reporting Shows Bias
Andrew Lightman, author at Hill Rag, initially ran this photo on the front page of a story of "Community in Crisis". We took issue with the use of this image because it is in a out-of-the way part of Greenleaf. This is the only part of Greenleaf Gardens that was tagged. Hill Rag is not the only source.
Opportunity Zones Program is Missed Opportunity
Buzzard Point property owners get hefty tax break and do not have to meet affordability requirements - hardening gentrification - because they own by right. They are getting major tax relief for what they were planning to do anyway. Read More
Violent Summer in SW
Southwest experienced a violent summer in 2019. Rather than corporate welfare in the form tax relief, public subsidies, or affordability waivers for the rich and well-off, DC needs to invest in community strengthening and asset-making. It should follow examples like the city of Los Angeles to divert funding to communities.
Gentrification has many forms. The most repugnant is physical displacement, but cultural displacement warrants attention. The Wharf minimizes African American history with an easily missed plaque, unlike Old Town Alexandria (statue above). The selling of Randall Junior High School without any mandate for a SW art exhibit is a major diss.
Black Southwest Speaks
Directed by Chris Williams, MPH, part one of this documentary highlights struggles in SW DC to combat gentrification, displacement, and redevelopment. The community is fighting a once-in-a-century struggle for economic and racial justice. Video features community leaders and ANC6D commissioners.
Our Kids Are Being Affected
Those who work with our children at school and in the community commonly hear concerns from our children about their changing community. Greenleaf children are especially sensitive to talks of their property being redeveloped. Within the last six months, Amidon-Bowen Elementary School was seeking to recruit a gentrification specialist.
Longstanding Organizations Are Silent
SW's longstanding community-based organization has not been vocal in the gentrifying effect of neighborhood change. In fact, we feel it sponsors a community newspaper that has silenced minority voices opposed to over-development. It has published more stories about social justice since Southwest Voice came on the scene.
The penetration of the business improvement district into the daily lives of SW residents creates conditions for a new type of neighborhood under the influence of corporate interests - a "corporatized neighborhood". Usually, this is limited to commercial districts, but we see unprecedented involvement that prevents the rise of new community organizations.
Wharf Removes Heritage Trail Signs
The Wharf removes SW Heritage trail signs for neighborhood that has been historically African American and white ethnic. This behavior is reminiscent of colonizers and points to the attitude of the Wharf toward the Southwest community. We demand immediate restoration of these signs.
DC sued over gentrification
Washington DC is being sued for gentrification. The 82-page class action lawsuit, filed by Aristotle Theresa, brought grievances against the city for its alleged discriminatory policies favoring creatives and millennials at the expense of the city's historically African American, low-income residents. Read More
DC Fails to Spend Grant Money to Protect Poor Children from Lead Poisoning
"District officials failed to spend $3 million in federal lead remediation grants, rendering the city ineligible for additional money and forcing D.C. to shut down a program to protect poor children from lead poisoning." Read More
Wharf Representative Blames Lack of Black Businesses on them not being "able to pay the rent"
A Wharf representative responded to an inquiry about the lack of Black businesses by stating, "They have to be able to pay rent". Her remarks were so insensitive. Turns out, this standard was not applied to all businesses, as most businesses on the Wharf failed to pay rent in May 2020. The Wharf is working with banks and asking for EVEN more tax relief.
Wharf Filled Window Storefront Signs Predominantly with Whites
Before community leaders expressed outrage, the Wharf 's empty storefront windows were filled with large groups of only White and some Asian representation.
SW DC Re-traumatized
Southwest DC experienced the worst form of community erasure. In a famous Supreme Court decision (Berman v Parker), the Court greenlit the wholesale demolition of Southwest."Urban renewal projects displaced more than 300,000 people between 1955 and 1966, and the burden fell disproportionately on people of color."  .
Redevelopment Planned at 4th and M St Displaces Farmer's Market
The 4th and M St development plans were approved, but plans do not address where the farmer's market will be relocated. The Zoning Commission did not address the adverse effects of the loss of vouchers for residents receiving forms of public assistance.
Randall Junior High School History Overlooked
There are no plans to preserve the historical and cultural significance, aside from the building itself. Randall School is one of the surviving pre-urban renewal buildings and was central to African American life. The fate of the school was threatened first after urban renewal displaced thousands of families, then sealed in the following decades.
DC Attorney General Sues
DC Attorney General Karl Racine filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA). The lawsuit focuses on the drug and firearm-related issues around the city's public housing.
SW DC Rally Brings Out
Southwest Voice co-sponsored the "Rally for Racial Justice in SW DC". Supported by area churches and Southwest Action DC, the event attracted over 200 residents.
Black Lives Matter DC
Following a march on the 395 interstate, part of the BLM march stops traffic on Main Street in SW.
Copyright image credit: