After such narratives and ideologies being written about the Shaw area for me, I decided to visit 5th & O and 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 when I walked into the interior of some of the buildings that allowed me to do so…
5. When I was walking back to go home, I saw what I believe was a recreation center with the word “Grow” on the front. There was a bunch playground equipment which showed a sense of community that has a commonplace to come and spend time and connect in some way.
4. One of the beautifully, fully renovated houses that I wanted to go into but was not going to be able to was a white row home that was up for sale on the far end of 5th St. After some research I found the house on a upscale real estate website names Dc Condo Boutique. The house is going for $1,495,000
for 4 bedroom and 31/2 bath (a far different price than the co-op homes on the same street). The inside did not reflect whatsoever what the outside and nearby look like. Its very ironic how the exterior of the home has been here and established for decades if not century, but for the interior it seems to change ever so often depending on who is there.
3. As I was walking on my to 5th & O I stumbled across one of the family owned mom and pop restaurants by the name of Half Smoke. After walking around and researching 5th & O I had gone over there for lunch. It seemed like new restaurants that had just opened, when I walked in there were a few customers and the general manager was sitting at the bar and helped me navigate what to order from the menu. As I ordered I asked him a couple of questions about the restaurants itself and the Shaw area “make over” over the past couple of years. It so happened that the general manager and the owner of Half Smoke who I later found out were named Andre McCain had opened the as he states “casual sausage joint” back in October. The manager stated that McCain wanted to have at least one black owned business around an area that was having this gentrification makeover. He wanted to have a commonplace for folks of all ages to come and enjoy themselves and not worry what is going on in the neighborhood that surrounds them which I found very noble of him to do.
2. 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 walked in, it was just any liquor store housing hundreds of bottles all across the wall. There was a sweet older man who I am assuming was the owner of the store asked me to not take any picture but I happened to find pictures on google. As I interviewed the old man he states that he has been working here for more than 35 years. He states that inside of the liquor store nothing has changed but the people that come in buy and what they buy, had changed severely. He states that the family that he has seen grow up and has their own kids are no longer there because they can no longer afford to be here.
While walking around 5th & O for the first time something that struck me was the cooperative home complex that was tucked away all the way at the end of 5th street. As I walked past it, it automatically seemed out of place from all the beautiful newly constructed homes that surrounded it. From research essentially “Second Northwest Cooperative Homes” are part of the Section 8 Housing programs around the nation. The overall idea of co-op homes in D.C as advertise by several articles online is residents own a share of the entire property not just their unit, which entitles the resident to own a share of the unit. The “head” of the co-op homes has a board of directors and a management company, which maintains the property, screens new residents, and determines monthly fees among other charges. There are at least 120 co-ops in the DC however this type of affordable housing is not well known or advertised. As I did research, I saw that the prices ranged from 1, 500 for a studio apartment to around 4, 500 for a 4 bedroom co-op apartment.
I got a call from my uncle (seen above picture) and I sat there for 30 minutes the other day and just talked to him about anything and everything. My uncle Darwin is turning 26 this year and as a kid, he didn’t feel like an uncle, he was more so a brother because we grew up together. As the only child of my parents, I knew that I had Darwin to always be there for me to play, laugh and have fun together no matter where we were and what we were doing. As we grew up, of course, he took the uncle role being protective over me and making sure that I got what I needed and ensuring that I and the niece were doing what I was supposed to do. Darwin and I had a relationship where I could talk to him about everything whether it be politics, school, boys or family issues that we saw occurring in front of us. He was my best friend and my confidant with everything. As I talked to him over the phone catching up about everything with college I couldn’t help but become extremely homesick and just miss being a kid and having fun with my uncle (more so older brother and best friend) Darwin. As I told him that, he told me there was no need to. That I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. He motivated me and encouraged me to keep doing me. And for that, I thank you, Darwin.
your niece and best friend.
David Fleming City of Rhetoric: Toward a New SocioSpatial Dialectic
In his Toward a New Socio Spatial Dialectic chapter of his book City of Rhetoric, David Fleming explains the importance of having such a book as City of Rhetoric. Fleming introduces all these aspects of built in environments such as the “African American ghetto,” “affluent white suburbs” and “mixed-income urban village” (179) to speak of the importance of public discourse. As part of public discourse of Fleming he mentions the important questions that need to be asked and answered through a civil conversation such as, “What are the effects of these differents kinds of social space on the ways we render and resolve conflict, on our attitudes toward public argument and our habits of political language?” (180)
Throughout this chapter rings importance for public discourse such as socio-spatial, language, politics, education and collective equality on page 180 all to ask the important question of finding alternatives of how things are being executed to secure the happiness of parties involved. What Fleming seems to be calling out is the need to break the pattern of the dominant using their voice and not letting the voice of the rest of their community be heard. The pattern of ostracizing certain group to one part of the community that then has the stigma of “unappealing” need to be changed. What Fleming attempts to suggest is not to “rehash old academic complaints” (181) but rather looking into how accepting an area is to diverse people and how willing the dominant group is able to give the minority group a voice. Fleming uses the word “disattach” (185) where he explains that it is true that an individual or group of people with more resources can easily remove themselves from issues that might seem hard but at the end of the day does not concern them. However, Fleming argues that such an action can affect the “rhetorical habit” (188) of an individual where they are not able to understand the opposing side’s point of view. Hence, there needs to be the “alternative” that Fleming brings to light, where the happiness, education and overall welfare of the minority group is taken into consideration.
Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. Albany: SUNY Press, 2008.
Annotated Bibliography 3
Falcon, Elizabeth. “Cooperative Housing Thrives in DC.” Accessed March 25, 2017. https://ggwash.org/view/32376/cooperative-housing-thrives-in-dc.
In her Cooperative Housing Thrives in DC Elizabeth Falcon uses the method of background to inform the reader of the “benefits” of cooperative housing. Falcon presents the creation and background story of cooperative housing to show how “stability” and “empowerment” that assistant housing brings to their residents.Also mentioning how these co-ops are a “gateway to ownership for the residents” hence, Section 8 housing according to Falcon have nothing but positive outcome. Falcon describes co-op homes as being “tucked away” neighborhoods around the city a certain language that shows that these communities are not at the center stage of their neighborhood, which makes one question why?
As I read this article and immediately connected it with walking around 5th & O neighborhood and seeing the Second Northwest Cooperative Homes tucked away in the newly renovated intersection. Falcon truly tries to persuade the reader that there is no real stigma on these co-op homes however, the fact that it is tucked away just shows what I had discussed in the first essay with Cameron Logan’s Beyond a Boundary: Washington’s Historic Districts and Their Racial Contents essay; the history of the people that have been living there for generations are being looked over like it never mattered for at least one group of people. What is then ironic is that the group of people being looked over are the ones that were put into these isolated areas as the dominant group are attempting to “enhance community control.” I plan to use this article to explain that the African American community has always been put at a disadvantage. The co-op homes are still being controlled by the dominant groups, the fact that it then being advertised as such a great financial opportunity but in the same token being said that it is “tucked away” is why the minority group feels there history is being erased.
Annotated Bibliography 4
Kwak, Chaney. “The Washington, D.C. Neighborhood You Need to Know About.” CNT. Accessed March 25, 2017. http://www.cntraveler.com/stories/2014-12-19/washington-dc-shaw-u-street-corridor-neighborhood-guide.
In his The Washington, D.C. Neighborhood You Need to Know About Chaney Kwak used the method of exhibit to advertise the “new shaw area” that everyone must go and see. Kwak explains how the Shaw area (Where 5th & O St NW is located) has finally “come into its own” and here are a the list of things to see in the “up and coming Shaw neighborhood” which then followed a list of small business yet very modern restaurants and shops. How this article is constructed primarily focuses on the improvement of the Shaw area. In the same sense disregarding that Shaw has been a part of the D.C. area for generations before, and was not always the go to for millennials as advertise by Kwak. Better yet, not even 10 years ago, the “millennials” that business owners are trying to attract in the Shaw area would have never imagined stepping foot there if it was not for Howard University being near by.
My intention for this article was to connect it to the interior of the restaurant I will be using for my Digital Archives called HalfSmoke. Kwak’s article though intended to promote Shaw Area and invite newcomers to the area to enjoy is overlooking the history of Shaw. Better yet, it is not letting the voices of the natives that were there and now displaced share their stories and allow the readers and possible newcomers of the Shaw area understand the full story and get to know the “before and after” of their neighborhood. As I did research all I could see was consumers of the products distributed by such restaurants and shops rave about the quality but then say “pricy” but it was always worth. When then leads to to ask where are the old businesses such as the family owned liquor and the beauty supply store owners, where have they gone? What is the story about their either progress or downfall? Who is telling their story? Yes it is good to have Urban Renewal but where are the natives supposed to go when their homes are being “tucked away” in a corner and there shopping areas are being replaced by “pricy but worth it” businesses?
As a college student, I sometimes struggle with the stress and pressure that I get from wanting to make my family proud and be successful in life. Knowing the second semester of my freshman year of college is coming to an end gives me major anxiety. With the closing of my first year of college I feel and know that more responsibility is coming. I also know I will feel more pressure to do and be the best that I can be. I am in an institution where for the most, part everyone is on the same playing field, we are all smart students that got into this university based on our skills and knowledge, which in return means we have to work twice as hard than we were before. For the longest time, I didn’t think that was possible for me, from my perspective I always thought I worked pretty hard and I have the accomplishment of being accepted to this university to prove it. I always knew that part of the college experience would involve a involve a couple of things; competitive nature with my peers. I also know that there will be more night os no sleep, tears among other bumps on the road. I have dealt with that to a greater severity that I had ever imagined. I don’t say this to discourage anyone or myself as I am writing this but instead I write this, to be honest with myself and understand that college will honestly only get harder and more stressful but because of the passion I know I have and the drive and determination that is in me I know I will get through it.