Practice makes Perfect (commonplace 5)

Part 1: Template

We often walk around without giving the things around us much thoughts. For example, people my age are more invested in their social media or their social status with their friends to take a step back and notice the societal issues we are putting ourselves in. However, if they did notice their slight selfishness, they most likely wouldn’t think it was a big deal. Furthermore, it seems to me that my age group doesn’t prioritize the current events and how it will affect our daily lives in the near future. What is more important is a number of likes, views, and popularity. Whether they notice it or not, however, every decision and action made can easily influence the stereotypes put on our group. As a result, by being so caught up with our own personal validations we lack empathy with the problems going on around us, we think we only have to think and fend for ourselves when that is not the case at all. Thus, it seems that our group lives in this cloud of nativity and self-righteousness, to no fault of our, it’s simply because we don’t have any real obligations to anyone else. As this essay will detail, although many scholars of generation Y have addressed the idea of this learned selfishness due to having no real responsibility set on us, these ideas have rarely been discussed in the eyes of individuals that our part of this very generation.


Part 2: Rhetorical Analysis AU

In their main website page, American University’s main goal is to attract prospective students and their families through visuals. By taking a minimalist approach focusing more on pictures to AU’s website portrays this institution as one that is all about helping their prospective and current transform into successful career driven individuals. As a political school in the heart of Washington D.C American made sure to choose particular things such former President Obama speaking to well-dressed students and staff. A lot of visuals of students studying in several of the building on campus and of course a backdrop of the nation’s capitol. Visually appealing American’s website consciously picks information and visuals that bring the attention of an audience with a political and social justice interest. As one scrolls down the page such words as “Top Employer” being international and political organizations such as the  Peace Corps and Teach for America and Deloitte. Such organizations are world renown and well-recognized companies and organizations. Their names are purposely placed right next to big font percentage of 91 and 89% showcasing the success that someone will receive if they were to come to this school with the internships, school, and work. The creators of this website made sure to motivate, inspire and showcase their students and their family. It seems to be made by the students and staff for their students and staff. There are very welcoming pictures of students lounging in their dorm rooms. There are two videos of students sharing their experience not only in this institutions but their experience in the capitol. Overall American University gets her job done.

Part 3: Common Splices (not sure how to do this, still a little confused)

“The sun (IC) came up a baleful(DC)  smear in the sky, not quite shapeless, in fact able to assume the appearance of a device immediately recognizable yet unnameable, so widely familiar that the inability to name it passed from simple frustration to a felt dread, whose intricacy deepened almost moment to moment . . . its name a word of power, not to be spoken aloud, not even to be remembered in silence.”

The sentence, not a comma splice because all these clauses are dependent.

Annotated Bibliography 1 & 2

Annotated Bibliography 1

Johnson, Jenna. “Warring Gangs in District’s Shaw Neighborhood Declare Truce.” The Washington Post, June 9, 2007, sec. Metro.

In this article, Johnson’s main argument pertains to commenting on the two infamous gang in the 5th and O and 7th and O intersection of the Shaw Area. Though they are intersecting the crew’s rivalries are one with long history and tension going back to the beginning of the cocaine epidemic in the nation’s district if not earlier. With such background information, what Johnson brings to presents is the result of the warring gang violence between the 5th and 7th that has been going on for decades, the older members of opposing crews with the help of their community leaders are trying to find a truce. Johnson interviews a crewmember with the name of Rufus Youngblood that describes such atmosphere of the area when entering it as a “war zone.” Johnson shares the heartwarming shift of feelings on both sides, where what is more important to them at this point is keeping the “peace” and as a result the safety of everyone in the area. As the veteran crew members state in the article, “As much as people want to blame the youth, it really is us taking the lead and steering them in the right direction..”

This article gave me an entryway to think about this upcoming essay to go into the 5th and O area and look at this intersection as more than just a “war zone” as Castaneda and some veteran crew members described. At the end of it all, Shaw is an area with families full of children running around during the Spring and Summer enjoying themselves and walking to the nearby library during the school year for their afterschool programs. The ideology of the Shaw Area being a ghetto with gang violence is just one side of the story. The only way to break such stereotypes that individuals have fed into for so many years and as a result has inclined them to stay away from is to first-hand experience it and ask questions.

Annotated Bibliography 2

Samuelson, Ruth. “Truce and Consequences.” Washington City Paper. Accessed February 17, 2017.

In this article, Samuelson’s doesn’t necessarily have an argument. Moreso it humanizes the individuals seen on the news about another killing in Shaw in the process shedding light on the experience of a crew member among others, in the 5th and O intersecting area. Specifically, Samuelson shares the story of Deon Peoples a young man that was murdered in 2007 by gang-related violence. One of his acquaintances, a man called Ben Barringer, Barringer gives voice to the issues at hand in the O st intersections and tells the readers about a man whose life was taken too soon but was a man with a family, friends, and life nonetheless. Samuelson gives Barringer the platform to explain and shed light on the fact that even crew members and their families have a life besides what is shown in their neighborhood on mainstream media. Something that Samuelson put in her article about People’s and his family is this, ““They are very nice,” says one woman familiar with the relatives. “They’ll give you whatever they have. But they’re close. Their family is very close. If you’re in their circle, you got to stay in their circle and don’t try to cross them.”

This article gave me an entryway to think about this essay as the ability to humanize what Castaneda among other authors and media branches stereotype 5th and O as. By focusing on the individuals and their stories, it recreates the narrative of such places. It adds dimensions to the ideology of the area, though this is not a happily ever after’ story that ended in a positive way it sheds light that though there are major issues in this neighborhood it these “thugs” and “gangsters” have a life that should be valued and respected like everyone else’s. For me personally, I connected with it because coming from my background (native of Haiti) I know that the impact of negative stereotypes of where an individual comes from, and how misunderstood an area and the groups of people that live there can feel.

#5 Green and Clean in Combat Zone

What that I found interesting is that 5th & O have an “Adopt-A-Block” sponsorship. A strategy that in the 1990s would have never been thought of as the people living there at the time. Back then, making sure that the block stayed clean and green was the not the first priority for the neighborhood. What could have been important is making sure the 5th and 7th crew stood out of each other’s way, drugs were being sold, and strawberries were being picked up from the way Castaneda explained Shaw during that time. Especially with Baldie just two streets over what was important to the notorious “neighborhood leader” was not having the blocks like 5th & O adopted by the Minor Football League to enforce cleanliness.

#4 The Original Corner Store

Despite all the new mom and pop businesses, there are  still corner stores that remain in their place since opening up in the 1980s. One of the customers that I spoke to from the Liquor stated that that particular liquor was there since the late 70s. Though the store hasn’t gone anywhere, everything else around them seems to be changing. As I talked to the man  who I didn’t get a name from there was construction happening behind the corner store building for new luxury apartments. It seemed to me the more young professionals and families looking to not be in the rustle and bustle of downtown come to live in Shaw, the less natives of Shaw that were once labeled as “gang members” there are. The more apartments and new restaurants being built, the less able natives of Shaw like that man I talked to outside the liquor store are able to afford living there.

#3 Government Housing?

Sponsored Housing complex in Shaw.

Another kind of house that I saw that does not fit the criteria listed in the previous post was cooperative homes. As I was walking farther down 5th street I found a cooperative homes complex. After researching what cooperative housing was I discovered that the purpose of these homes is to give families the ability to own their homes and set a leasing agreement signed by the family and the company that owns the home. This way they are able to afford to own their own space without the threat of eviction. This cooperative home was just a couple of feet down the street from the same black and brick luxury row homes. The people that lived in the cooperative homes looked very different from the those living in the newly renovated row homes surrounding it. As I stood there observing the street I saw little kids coming out of the cooperative housing complex playing among themselves and not even 15 feet away little kids whose parents/guardians owned the renovated homes playing among themselves as well – not acknowledging each other whatsoever.

#2 Luxury Living in the Heart of a Combat Zone

When I finally got to the 5th & O intersection I saw three types of houses. Houses that have been there for decades, that had little to no renovations to them, the ones that were under construction to become renovated, or luxurious homes such as the one attached here. After doing more research, I discovered that a house like this would go for about 1.5 million dollars because of this renovation. It is very ironic that not even 10 years ago in 2007, people were being killed, and there was gang tension between 5th & O and 7th & O crews. But now, row homes go up to the millions and more of them are being constructed.

# 1 From Ghetto to the New Brunch Spot

Main Street of Shaw

(Click link above for video)

Walking the main street on my way to 5th & O I saw a bunch of small owned businesses mostly restaurants with a bunch of young professionals or couples with young children eating brunch. Most of these individuals were caucasian with a few of Hispanic and black among other minority groups sitting in the same area as them enjoying their early Saturday afternoon. Though there was music in the cars passing, it was quiet and peaceful walking around the area. As I made my way to 5th and O almost every other car would stop and wave to the person walking the sidewalk – a gesture that represented a sort of acquaintance or friendship between those groups of people. Something I realized with those interactions with the people in the car and those walking greeting each other was that they were mostly African American individuals. Though 5th & O (as I later found out) is now filled with newly renovated apartments and row homes the group of individuals that continued to live after such changes, were friendly and had a sort of family-based community.

From Combat Zone to Family Friendly: 5th & O St NW (Shaw)

Street sign for 5th & O intersection in Shaw.

In his book S Street Rising Ruben Castaneda described 5th & O Streets Northwest in Shaw as a “combat zone” an area whose reputation involved a murder, drugs and little to no press attention on the intersecting streets. As I continued to do research, googling 5th & O I discovered articles that were written a decade or so after Castaneda’s stories in the book, that played the same tune. In article Warring Gangs in District’s Shaw Neighborhood Declare Truce and similarly in Truce and Consequences authors Johnson and Samuelson describe 5th & O as gang filled, murdering spree atmosphere that was finally in the midst of trying to find newfound peace in the area after too many lives lost in the streets.

After such narratives and ideologies being written about the Shaw area, I decided to visit 5th & O to see if these same stories would fit what 5th and O is now. When I got here I was presented the opposite, the first word that comes to me to describe Shaw is – Gentrified. Here are some of the things that I observed…

House sign showing appreciation to Shaw.

The Pretty Side of a Third World Country – Pétion-Ville, Haiti (Commonplace 4)

In the midst of our class starting research and going out to our chosen locations to certain parts of the D.C. area and immersing ourselves for our upcoming paper,  I started to feel a bit nostalgic in thinking where I came from. To start I should say that I’m Haitian, born in General Hospital in Petionville and raised in Delma 71 a cute quaint little residential neighborhood in Port-au-Prince. I have always had such pride and love for the country in which I came from. Even as a young kid, there was always excitement in knowing I could go back and truly feel at home the second my feet touched the island soil (as cliche as that sounds). However, as I grew up and started understanding how the world works I knew that not everyone had the admiration and love that I had for Haiti. Then in 2010 after the earthquake, I started to feel this great inferiority. Since it was known that I was from Haiti I had a lot of people coming up to me and asking questions that were ignorant from my perspective. Such question included, “Are there schools in Haiti?” “Do you live in a hut when you go there?” “What do you eat when you go there – is there enough food for you and your family?”

I quickly realized whether it be my friends, acquaintances or strangers their unintentional ignorance, curiosity, and questions that followed such thought processes were because of what was shown to them through media about Haiti. They didn’t know that there was more to this third world country. I won’t sit here and try to convince anyone that Haiti as a third world country does not have its fair share of problems when it comes to politics, social economic status among other things but as a native to that country, I can tell you first hand that there is more to it. When answering such questions I would roll my eyes and tell them that Haiti has schools, that I lived in a house and there was enough food to go around. But I would always follow and talk about the beautiful people, places, and sounds that are common to the island. It’s so funny to see that when it comes to third world/impoverished places – all people usually see are negative. They have don’t have the ability to truly see the entirety of such places,  because based on the pictures and stories we see – we just feel bad for that place and come in with a mindset of needing to fix and help and not truly learn and appreciate the location first.

Reading Analysis 2 – Sarah Schindler “Architecture as a Regulation”

In her, Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design Of the Built Environment, “Architecture as a Regulation” section Schindler argues the concept of individuals consciously isolating certain groups of people from a location through laws and regulations throughout history, so much so that it has become a social norm. Individuals have ostracized certain groups in some cases using means of violence among other things to mark and claim their territory as their own.  Schindler informs the reader the idea and reason behind the strategic separations of cities and towns and how as she states, “…cities were constructed in ways — including by erecting physical barriers— that made it very difficult for people from one side of town to access the other side” (1942).

The title of the section “Architecture as a Regulation” introduces to the reader the idea as Schindler proposes of our physical environment being used as a third method of discrimination. It is the perfect example of certain parts of a town having a certain reputation due to the discriminatory mindsets toward them. Schindler states, “By structuring our relationships, these features of the built environment control and constrain our behavior” (1943). The idea of “systematic social inequality” is introduced, Schindler with the validation of social scientists claims that physical architecture is used as a constraint to keep certain people that are not desirable for a certain part town away with no real reason. And over time, these landscape restrictions are just engraved in groups of people that continue on such divisions, with no true reasoning or evidence. Another concept that Schindler introduces is the idea of “choice architecture.” The individuals that control and built such physical barriers and divisions are also the ones that have the influence concerning who will inhabit such locations. There is no such thing as Schindler and her colleagues explain it as “neutral design.” An intriguing remark that Schindler states that summarizes the idea of “Architecture Regulation” is “These architectural  decisions create  architectural constraints: features of the built environment that function to control human behavior or hinder access—the embodiment of architectural exclusion” (1948).

From Schindler’s perspective, there is a common thread and sort of domino effect when it comes to geographical, political and social influence on discrimination and segregation between individuals and groups of people. In the United States specifically, Schindler states that ‘segregation, integration, and separation are spatial processes’ and so is exclusion and confinement. There is always a way to exclude and ostracize individuals and the fact that in the 21st century that is still a process being done — is no surprise.

Works Cited

Sarah Schindler. “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment.” The Yale Law Review, 2015, 1937–2023.