Annotated Bibliography 3&4

Castaneda, Ruben, and DeNeen L. Brown. “4 SLAIN, 2 HURT IN NW CLUB.” The Washington Post, 25 Feb. 1990.,


In their article for the Washington Post, Ruben Castaneda and DeNeen L Brown are furthering the argument that encompassed the Shaw neighborhood during the crack epidemic, in that the area is a place full of crime and drug related violence. Through this report on a shooting that took place at a nightclub called John’s Place, Castaneda and Brown are rightfully adding to the idea that Shaw was a place to be avoided. In their article, they point out that John’s Place used to be a place for more elderly people, but in more recent years it has become a spot where drug related people go. This fact provides a sense of what kind of place John’s Place was, but then reinforces the idea that even a modest and neighborhood friendly place like this is ridden with violence. To the audience, it gives off the impression that all of Shaw is like this, which provides it with an identity that started with the idea that only parts of Shaw was bad, to the idea that now even a place like John’s Place is bad. It sort of personalizes it for outsiders if they know what kind of place John’s Place was, and I think this was Castaneda and Brown’s intention.

This article will prove to be a very important article for my purposes because it touches on so many different angles. I can connect what I learned in this article, even if it’s a small amount of information about what John’s Place was like, and make inferences and maybe even contact the Pastor of the church across the street to find out more. The idea that this article adds to the stigma of Shaw is interesting because the only information that the outside audience is receiving about Shaw are articles like these that hit on the facts of drug related violence, therefore the only thing that people are going to think about when they think of Shaw are bad things. This is going to be extremely important for my purposes because I plan to talk a lot about how people perceive Shaw now versus how it was perceived back then, and give rise to the fact that all people knew was the bad and I’ll hopefully find a lot of good to counter the bad.


Woods, Alan. “Shaw DC: Up-and-Coming Neighborhood on the Cusp of Change – Movoto.” Movoto Real Estate, Accessed 26 Mar. 2017


This neighborhood website article by Alan Woods is catering to prospective Shaw inhabitants, and is arguing that the Shaw neighborhood is a thriving up and coming area with a rich history and great place to live do to the convenient mix of commercial and residential life. This article attempts to talk about the history of Shaw in relation to the modern day Shaw. It breeds the idea that the modern day Shaw is great today because of the rich history and culture it has. However, the history that is discussed has nothing to do with the crime and violence that took place in Shaw during the crack epidemic in Washington DC. It is as if this fact is purposely being hidden from the general public. This is a common trend amongst articles that talk about the modern day Shaw. People want to talk about how there is an abundance of African American history, but they don’t want to talk about what really happened.

For my purposes, I am going to use this article to strengthen my argument about how Shaw is seen today as this place to experience African American culture. This to people is seen as this trendy thing to do, when in reality no one is talking about the horrible things that happened in Shaw. I think it is a strange thing to talk about Shaw in a way where it seems people like to leave out the honest truth about its history. This source is definitely catering to a very specific audience of people – people who could potentially purchase property in Shaw or just spend their money in Shaw with it’s many amenities, so the person who wrote this is careful to not include any history that could sway people to not spending money. The language shows that they are very cleverly hiding the truth by saying there is an abundance of culture to immerse yourself in. This is going to be useful for me because it will help me prove that people really are trying to brush aside what it was actually like now that they are making lots of money.


Reading Analysis 4

In chapter 3.8 of David Fleming’s City of Rhetoric, one of the most prominent and all encompassing arguments that Fleming makes is the idea that “place” in relation to where we live and the environments that we occupy influence our futures in multiple ways.  We therefore need  commonplaces where people can participate in healthy “conflict” and “discourse,” which is imperative if there is to be a highly functioning and striving neighborhood, however, Fleming points out that our current neighborhood rhetorical situations are not capable of created spaces like this (181). The suburbs don’t work because these areas are usually comprised of people who are more or less the same, so there is no need for conflict (Fleming 181). Additionally, the more inner city areas tend provide much lower quality education, so often times public discourse and social interaction was not possible because people were not provided with the resources to successfully participate in healthy collaborative discourse (Fleming 181). Fleming makes the point that in both suburban and city living induce isolation, fear, and silence for the inhabitants, which are all created as a result of the rhetorical situation. In this sense, place matters, but the feelings of isolation, fear, and silence come about in very different ways depending on where you are.

This idea of “place” is also important when discusses success in people’s lives. Fleming touches on the fact that we are often told that our success is indicative of how hard we work, however, a lot of the time people gain success because they find themselves in the best situation, and in the best place to achieve what they want. For many people they may never find themselves in a place where they will have the interactions they need, or they didn’t have adequate education to get them where they could be if they had grown up somewhere different (Fleming 185). As Fleming puts it, “…where people live, work, and play – the geographies they negotiate, the situations they find themselves in, the physical and human environments in which they think, act, and interact – these influence, directly and indirectly, subtly and forcefully, the experiences they have the people they know, the skills and habits they develop, the values they acquire” (185). “Place” matters more than we realize, but it is how we “organize” it that will hopefully prevent disparities in happiness and success when it comes to where we live (Fleming 194).


Works Cited

Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. SUNY Press, Albany, 2008.

Commonplace 8

After Your Death

By Natasha Trethewey


First, I emptied the closets of your clothes,

threw out the bowl of fruit, bruised

rom your touch, left empty the jars


you bought for preserves. The next morning,

birds rustled the fruit trees, and later

when I twisted a ripe fig loose from its stem,


I found it half eaten, the other side

already rotting, or—like another I plucked

and split open—being taken rom the inside:


a swarm of insects hollowing it. I’m too late,

again, another space emptied by loss.

Tomorrow, the bowl I have yet to fill.


Natasha Trethewey had an extremely difficult childhood, and something that I really respect about her is she writes a lot of her poems as sort of a way to cope. Here, she is writing about the death of her mother. I do not usually enjoy poetry, however, this is a poem that I read and it instantly stuck with me. I really admire Natasha Trethewey; just the way that she has moved on after a lot of horrible things that happened to her, and write about it in her poems. I like being able to make connections in her work that parallel with times in her life. I think it makes it much more relatable. You definitely feel a lot more when you read it opposed to if you were to just read it and not know anything about her.

Reading Analysis 3

In David Fleming’s book City of Rhetoric, Fleming argues, through analysis of several different angles, that the North American suburban model lacks the ability to incorporate inner city families and low income housing to create a more heterogeneous and thriving community. In looking at the meaning of the term “suburbia,” the definitions vary in the sense that there is no one type of suburb. The level of affluence and range of income can vary, yet there exists this single word that encompasses all of these different variations of a place. Fleming uses the city of Chicago as a way to demonstrate attempts that have been made to create a successful integration and relocation of inner city dwellers into the many suburbias that surround Chicago. According to Fleming, Chicago has developed, like much of America, on the basis of decentralization, fragmentation, and polarization (98). These three negative repercussions of the development of cities are responsible for the utter inequity, which is the cause of polarization, and as Fleming says, is fueled by decentralization and polarization (99). Together they create the separation between “well situated” areas with low crime rates and high end education and low income, and high crime areas. The more “attractive” areas continue to be attractive, and the less “well situated” communities continue to be “unattractive” with no hope of change (Fleming, 99). The primary example suburb that Fleming uses to demonstrate attempts to tackle this issue is a Chicago suburb known as Schaumburg. Fleming uses this suburb because it represents a seemingly perfectly functioning society that was “intensely planned” (106).  Although Schaumburg prides itself in being family oriented and full of highly educated people with a vast amount of employment options, it represents a place that is unwilling to share these attributes with low-income families (Fleming, 109). The Gautreaux program, which was developed to provide relocation of voluntary low-income families into suburban areas has been tested in many suburbs, starting in the 1980’s. There have been positive factors that have resulted in many cases, such as improved behavior of children and a sense of improved safety for single mothers, however, there have also been reports of severely negative results. There is such a foundation of racial prejudice in this country that when these primarily minority, low-income families relocated, they were met with racial slurs and violent threats from members of the community (Fleming, 116). It seems as though there is no solution. As Fleming makes clear, the North American suburban fantasy cannot rightfully exist, while also including all people of any race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic standing.


Works Cited:

Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. SUNY Press, Albany, 2008.

Commonplace 7

“Some people are like clouds. When they go away, it’s a brighter day.”


This was an anonymous quote that I saw on a bumper sticker. I just think it’s really clever and functions well because it’s so simple. I think of clouds and the sky in general as something more babyish. (This could be because when I think of clouds and suns I think about the baby face that was the sun on the teletubbies) So, I like how it’s actually pretty mean, but it’s also really light so the cloud and sun metaphors are sort of making it seem less mean!

I typed this quote into google and this is what I found. To the right of the quote is the sun from teletubbies for reference.




Essay 1

A Lost Identity: How Statistics Infringe Upon the way we see the History of the Shaw Neighborhood

     The Shaw neighborhood, a historically black area in Northwest Washington DC, has in the past ten years undergone the common phenomena known as gentrification. With this change, The conversation that is currently presented with Shaw is that of positivity and admiration for the improvements that have occurred in a previously crime ridden and impoverished area. With trendy shops and restaurants at every turn, it’s no wonder that almost every article that discusses Shaw engages in this very conversation. Everyone wants to talk about the fact that developers were able to come in and entirely change the common perception of one neighborhood. While acknowledging the reality that this change has in fact pushed Shaw natives to leave the neighborhood due to economic disparities, it is agreed that the change has made improvements that are for the better of the neighborhood. However, what is not included in this conversation is the idea that before gentrification took place, the individuals of Shaw were grouped into a collection of statistics and facts that therefore deemed them, and in turn Shaw as a whole, with an identity in need of replacing. With these facts being the only representation of Shaw and its people, it is no wonder that gentrification was so appealing to outsiders. Through daily news reports about the struggling drug infested neighborhood, the people of Shaw weren’t given the chance to display who they really were. A nightclub known as “John’s Place” existed in Shaw back in the 1980’s and 90’s. Little is known about this mysterious nightclub other than what a few Washington Post articles tell us. In this essay I will use one of these Washington Post articles to argue that John’s Place and it’s lack of qualitative information is indicative of the rest of Shaw, in that the neighborhood during this time, to the outside world, was nothing more than a collection of bad statistics. I will argue that as a result, an identity beyond these statistics was unable to form and a new era of consumerism with overwhelming amounts of organic beef and artisan coffee eagerly took it’s place.

     A Washington Post article titled 4 Slain, 2 Hurt in NW Club by Ruben Castaneda and DeNeen L. Brown reports on a shooting that took place on February 25th 1990 on the doorstep of John’s Place, which as Castaneda and Brown report was “a nightclub in the 1700 block of Seventh Street NW in the Shaw neighborhood.” This article gives a general play by play retelling of the crime that occurred. At around 1:30 am two armed men made their way into John’s Place with the intent to shoot 20 year old Robert Lee Walker (Castaneda and Brown). Four men ended up losing their lives and two men were left severely wounded (Castaneda and Brown). As tragic as this violent crime was, an important aspect to observe in this article is the idea that these are strictly facts. This report contains facts that are functioning to inform their intended audience about a shooting that had taken place in Shaw. The article points out that this is not an uncommon occurrence, yet it classifies it as “one of the deadliest outbursts since drug-related violence began sweeping the region in recent years.” This implies that the target audience of this article is the people in Washington, DC who most likely do not live in Shaw. This shows that the primary information that outsiders receive about Shaw comes solely from factual news reports like this one. And why should they not? Crimes like these are most certainly worthy of reporting, however, what is pushed aside here, is the idea that in reports like this actually inhibit the ability for the general public to understand Shaw in any other way. Ruben Castaneda and DeNeen Brown are simply doing their job, but in doing so they are adding to the negative statistics that define the area.

     The absence of information and the absence of sources and dialogue regarding the original Shaw is shocking. Along the same lines, there is so little information about John’s Place. Was John’s Place’s identity solely the place where people went to get shot? Of course not. This article by Castaneda and Brown is one of very few articles that even mentions John’s Place. When it is mentioned in other instances, it is always in reference to this one horribly violent incident that took place. In comparison to Shaw as a whole, the media similarly portrays John’s Place in this solely negative light. And, it’s no one’s fault that this is the way it is. Reporters are simply doing their jobs. The lack of sources about John’s Place is interesting in itself because it raises several questions. Who was John? What type of people went to his “place?” It cannot be that it was only a place where people would be shot. I do not accept that identity. But, this is truly all that is given to it’s name.

     My journey to John’s Place started in an uber. Pinpointing the actual address of where John’s Place would have been, as it no longer exists was surprisingly difficult. I was able to go off of where Ruben Castaneda said it was located in his report about the shooting that took place there. I also referred to google maps in order to get an exact location. My uber driver was named Dwayne. We quickly began talking.  Dwayne was familiar with the area. I asked him if he had ever heard of a club back in the 1980’s or 90’s known as John’s Place. He had not. He asked me why I was going to a coffee shop in Shaw. I told him I was going to start at the coffee shop and then go explore Shaw, specifically 7th street, where John’s Place was said to be located. Dwayne told me that if I were to go venture through Shaw 20 years ago it would be extremely unsafe, but he said I’d be safe now “after all the improvements.” He also pointed out that a lot of his friends were forced to leave Shaw in the past ten years because it has simply become too expensive to live there. As I walked up 7th Street I couldn’t help but think how interesting and fun a place Shaw is now. However, knowing a little about the history of Shaw made it difficult for me to appreciate the trendy area after knowing that many of the people who were from Shaw, and who were part of the original community didn’t and couldn’t live there anymore. It was hard to believe that Shaw had ever been such a place. At every turn there was a trendy looking restaurant. The streets were adorned with murals and cobblestone sidewalks. It truly is a wonderful area. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but think about John’s Place and think about how it used to be. I stood across from John’s Place which is now a red brick wall covered with beautiful graffiti art. There was a muffin shop to my right, and a colossal entirely glass apartment building almost directly across from where John’s Place would have been.

The old Shaw was so very different from what I experienced on that Thursday afternoon. After seeing photographs by Michael Horsley (see figure 1) of the Shaw neighborhood in 1986, it was hard to process the utter transformation. The photograph reveals the sad state of parts of Shaw.

Fig. 1. Homeless Couple II 14th and P Streets NW. 1986.

Before the gentrification of Shaw specifically during the 1980’s and 90’s, the neighborhood was a dangerous and drug infested place. Buildings everywhere were falling apart. The amount of disorder and lack of care throughout the streets of Shaw was horrendous during this time. Again, from the outside in, Shaw consisted of a cluster of statistics: a large homeless community, an abundance of drug related violence, gun violence, high rates of poverty. Thus, gentrification was highly appealing for outsiders.

Additionally, I wonder what caused developers to intervene and turn Shaw into what it is now? It’s disheartening to think that anyone who could have made a difference didn’t seem to care about Shaw before it could be seen as a gold mine. It was known for being a dangerous and high risk area where you would most likely be shot passing through, according to people who only knew the statistics. But no one bothered to talk about anything else. I think that’s why gentrification in Shaw is a greater deal than it appears to be. It completely erased an unknown identity that didn’t have the chance to present itself to the world because the negative statistics, despite them being true and valid, overshadowed the possibility of anything good being known. Everyone thinks that the gentrification has given it a new and sophisticated identity, but what they don’t realize is that the identity it replaced was potentially misrepresented from a purely factual standpoint and this unknown identity is what I want to uncover.


Commonplace 5

Part 1:

We often walk around without giving the things around us much thought. After all, we are all so focused on our phones or in our own worlds, therefore we don’t have time to think about what is going on around us. Along the same lines, this lack of awareness prevents us from having meaningful conversations with people, conversely, people who are more aware and appreciate what is around them don’t have this problem, hence, by walking around oblivious to our surroundings we consequently miss great and meaningful things that happen. As this essay will detail, although many scholars of this area have addressed the idea that it is common for people to be unaware of their surroundings because they are far too focused on other things, however, these ideas have rarely been discussed in a way that addresses why people are so distant from their surroundings and lack appreciation.


Part 2:

University websites all emit the same general message, a message of almost guaranteed success and employment, along with motivational and optimistic sayings and success stories. The front page, the first page you see, shows the highlights, the seemingly great things that the university can provide for its students. AU’s website is no exception. The primary page highlights greats happenings at the University over the past few years, as well as the essential stats that show this that AU is serious about their student’s futures. With each click, the reader is given more and more detail, to the point of overwhelming anxiety, because there is simply too much information thrown at you at once. The website, without a doubt, consciously propagates political ideologies, which coincides with the area and primary major offered by the university.

Part 3:


“The sun came up a baleful smear in the sky (IC), not quite shapeless, in fact able to assume the appearance of a device immediately recognizable yet unnameable (DC), so widely familiar that the inability to name it passed from simple frustration to a felt dread, whose intricacy deepened almost moment to moment (DC). . . its name a word of power, not to be spoken aloud, not even to be remembered in silence(DC).”
This sentence isn’t a comma splice, I think, because the writing is so great, and the cohesiveness of it simply works. Yes, the author of this sentence could have put periods in several places, but it would have changed it. This sentence is like a ongoing thought, and if a period were to stop it somewhere I think it would make the sentence more confusing and it would emphasize one part more than the other. With just commas, it creates connections between these ideas that just make sense and work together, and they definitely wouldn’t if there were periods instead.

Digital Archive 5

These two pictures represent the newness in Shaw. You can see that the roads are nice and newly paved, and the sidewalks look expensive. Even ten years ago, this wouldn’t have been the case. Once people, developers, city planners actually started caring, that’s when things changed. Like I said in one of my previous posts, no one was interested in experiencing black history when it was violent. No one cared to help then. This makes me think more about how developers actually came in? What were their first moves? I’m going to look into that as I move along with my research.

Digital Archive 4

These pictures were taken by Kevin O’Connell, and Yi Chen. It was found on the American WAMU website. The first picture is from 1988, during the height of the crack epidemic. The bottom picture is from 2014. This is the corner of 7th street, and T street, which is a central spot in the Shaw neighborhood. The pictures really say it all; times have changed. There is such a clear difference between then and now. People are literally buying and doing crack on the side of the road. Back then, the police couldn’t really intervene, and now you would never see anything like that. It really is just truly fascinating, especially considering that this wasn’t even that long ago.

Digital Archive 3

The first picture you see is where John’s place would have been in 2009. The picture to the right is what John’s place currently looks like. As you can see, “John’s place” no longer exists. But, you can imagine what it might have been like. Was that brick wall part of John’s Place? Or, is the brick wall hiding something? The possibilities are endless. Who was John? What kind of people went there? This is what I think of when looking at these pictures. If the rest of Shaw has practically been transformed, why has this wall remained?