In Chapter 7 of City of Rhetoric by David Fleming; he talks about how the majority of society see thoses that live in public housing projects and the assumptions that are made about the communities and the people that live in them. Fleming uses the the example of Chicago’s Cabrini Green Homes to further elaborate his point as to as how the residents of public housing in this country are denied basic rights and they aren’t even given the choice to decide as a community how they want to develop their environment. The people of Cabrini Green, a public housing project in Chicago, are constantly “othered” from the rest of society in three ways. The first way people in the community are othered is by them being represented as people that are lesser than the majority of society, secondly, the neighborhoods in which they live are depicted as unruly and out of hand, and thirdly, the residents are denied stay for long periods of time in these neighborhoods.
The conditions of a lot of public housing communities such as Cabrini Green went very bad due to the lack of care from the government. A high level of crime and violence went on in these neighborhoods and eventually because self governed by the residents themselves as tension grew with the Chicago PD. In an effort to try to prevent urban revitalization of this particular building residents proposed that the building be turned into a co-op where they are homeowners and they work together democratically. This was the best option for the current residents due to the fact that the building then wouldn’t be demolished and they wouldn’t have to move out and find another place to live or yet worse, be without a place to live entirely. Sadly, the proposal was rejected by the City of Chicago Department of Housing and by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) and the Cabrini Green Homes were demolished to forward the city of Chicago’s mission of Urban Renewal and revitalization . The last residents were finally forced out in December 2010.
What happened at Cabrini Green is an all too typical narrative that Fleming details in chapter 7 of his book; residents of public housing neighborhoods are already seen as less than the majority of people and then when they try to stand up to protect one of the few things that is theirs, it gets taken away from them. Public Housing Projects such as Cabrini Green Homes and those alike are neglected by the government just like the people that live in them are and the residents are left to try to survive there without any assistance or care. Despite being isolated and neglected by the government Cabrini Green residents and other public housing residents would rather rehabilitate the area in which they live, rather than being forced out on the streets and have their building be demolished. Through urban revitalization not only are people’s communities and homes being taken away that live in public housing but so are their basic rights, their voices and their sense of humanity.
Washington DC is full of many attractions, historical landmarks and fun site of entertainment. In fact, the nation’s capital is home to one of the most well known sites of entertainment, affectionately referred to as “The Jewel on U” or The Lincoln Theatre. Anyone not familiar with the Washington DC area such as a tourist is going to want to take to the internet to look up fun and entertaining things to do while they are in the nation’s capital. The Lincoln Theatre’s website uncovers the the type of entertainment that would attract a tourist or a newer resident of Washington DC. The Lincoln Theatre’s website displays all of the upcoming events and performances booked at the venue for the remainder of the year. This essay aims to analyze and consolidate what the website is displaying in comparison to what the Lincoln Theatre is and once was, whom the website is trying to attract, and lastly what this means for a person viewing the website.
The Lincoln Theatre is not only a long standing staple of U Street it is a long standing staple of Washington DC; because of this, the changes that this theatre undergoes have been reflective of the changes going on in Washington DC as a whole. When one goes on Lincoln Theatre’s website, the viewer is met with a warm inviting color tone of a background. The navigation menu displays contact information and information about how to get to the venue and then a scheduled list of plays, acts, and performances taking place in the upcoming weeks. “Lincoln Theatre” is posted at the very top of the webpage in a white, classic style font that matches the regality of the physical structure itself. Immediately under the navigation bar is the running list of acts coming up in the next days, weeks and months.
In my observations, I noticed every single one of the acts that are posted on the face of the Lincoln Theatre website up until December 5th of this year are white people. There are actors, comedians, musicians and other artists scheduled to perform, yet, every single of them are white. This pattern quickly stuck out to me because the Lincoln Theatre, a huge part of history of a jazz music and black culture has been standing on the corner of 1215 U Street Northwest, Washington DC since 1922. The greatest of musicians and artists such as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Cab Calloway and Billie Holiday performed at this every location. This theatre historically, was home of performance to many black artists and invited people to celebrate black art. Looking at the Lincoln Theatre website site homepage today, this rich history of African American artists and musicians, is not only not reflected, but it is nowhere to be found.
In the past years, the Lincoln Theatre reflected what Harlem looked like many years ago for black artists: it was lively and proud. Although U Street as a whole hasn’t been gentrified much like the majority of Washington DC, one of the biggest staples of this street, The Lincoln Theatre, has been gentrified immensely. I wonder how is it that one of the blackest areas of Washington DC that host right in the very center of it an iconic building that is now everything but a celebration of blackness? Anyone that is new or unfamiliar with the Washington DC area that went to the Lincoln Theatre website to get an idea about exactly what this historic place was about would have no idea of the beautiful, rich and important significance this theatre had to black culture and black people as a whole. Overtime, a space for black art and the support of black young and thriving artist had now changed into a place for young up and coming white artists and that in itself to me is disappointing given that fact that U street is a staple of black culture and this theatre means so much to the black community.
Ironically enough, after going through The Lincoln Theatre’s website today there’s a tab under the “Venue”option about the history of the venue and they insert a short statement about the history of the theatre and they name the famous black musicians that used to perform there when the theatre was first opened. In the history of the venue description of the website is the only part of the website where I saw not just black people but people of color at all. The theatre’s website barely featuring any people of color is beyond bothersome because a venue that was initially built as a haven and space for black artists has now turned into a place that is a common space for white people much like the rest of Washington DC. Looking through the Lincoln Theatre website reminds that people love black culture, but not black people. It’s easy to love something that seems fun and entertaining but this country never truly loved black people, simply only what black people produce; this is exactly what happened with the Lincoln Theatre on U Street . U Street is one of the blackest places in Washington DC, but I’ve also noticed that its “trendy” its the new place for people to go hang out, eat, and observe “culture” and be entertained but of course the biggest entertainment draw on U Street, that been turn into a theatre that is primarily white and only host white artist because its about the culture, the draw and the trend of being on U Street that is “cool” it was never about the people because if it was, the Lincoln Theatre would have black people still performing and doing shows there.
One of the possible reasons for this drastic change in culture of the Lincoln Theatre could be due to the change in management. A company called I.M.P Production is the parent company of the Lincoln Theatre and has been the parent company since June of 2013. I.M. P Productions is owned by Seth Hurwtiz and Richard Heinecke, they started the private entertainment company years ago. When interviewed by Billboard Music Magazine, Seth Hurwtiz was asked about the appeal of the various venues that he and Heinecke owns and he gave the following response, “Our strategy with all our venues is make them so good that artists feel that’s where they have to play. That’s our strength.” (Billboard Magazine).
The term “good” is relative to Hurwtiz’s perspective and I have to wonder in his eyes what exactly does he mean by “good,”. Perhaps Hurwitz means “good” in a sense of making it appealing to the exact audience he wants to attract to the area, but I question if it has to be at the unfortunate cost of the historical prominence artists of color fading away? In this analysis its important to also ask whom sees it as “good” the local people living on Ustreet or people from out of town looking to perform there or see a show at Lincoln theatre.
In terms of how ownership of The Lincoln Theatre came about, Seth Hurtwitz was granted ownership of the theatre in 2013, through a bidding process governed by the then -mayor, Vincent C Gray and the Department of General Services.
The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) saw the need to develop a plan that invested in the longevity of the theater, “The DCCAH’s primary role was to continue operating the theatre while developing a sustainable long-term business strategy for the theatre” (dgs.dc.gov). The Commission received a few Letters of Intent to include Hurwitz’s; the decision of ownership was based upon “economic terms”, “vision” and “business model”. After a secondary deliberation between the Commission, Mayor Gray, and The Department of General Services, Hurtwitz of I.M.P Productions, was selected as the new operator of The Lincoln Theatre. In the announcement of the theater’s new operator Mayor Gray stated, “I’m delighted that we can now move forward with I.M.P and being revitalizing this immense cultural asset”.The Mayor and the DC Commission saw as a need for “revitalization” of the theatre in the same way other political officials saw a need for “revitalization” of many other parts of DC as well. The changes in operator and changes of the theatre as a whole is just a reflection of the same change going on around the entire District.
I won’t say that I am surprised that this has happened but I am without a doubt disappointed because this country has a habit of taking things away from black people, whether it is music, culture, fashion styles, space, or simple freedom. The taking, stealing and reclaiming of black culture and turning it into something other than that is nothing new but still hurts the community time and time again. Then we get places like the Lincoln Theatre website that barely have a trace of the true history of the theatre displayed.
This website is evidently trying to draw to a very specific crowd of people and entertainment. There are no superstars such as Taylor Swift and the Zac Brown band scheduled to perform but more specifically, young, and up and coming and white artists that make alternative music such as Stephin Merritt, performing later next week or Yann Tiersen scheduled to perform at the theatre in December. After being under new management it is evident that the Lincoln Theatre is also trying to appeal to a specific group of people, that do not necessarily reflect those people that live on U Street, which has gone from 52% black, 35% white, and 13% other races to present day, 60% white, 24% black and and 16% other races (Statistical Atlas). Despite the location; the target audience is apparent based upon the website in comparison to what the theatre was initially constructed for.
Another noticeable part of the website is the social media insertions, on the face of the website to the right it says “Join our emailing list” , “Like us on Facebook” and “Follow us on Twitter” with the respective icons for each social media platform. This social media segment of the website is in an even bigger font than the theatre’s phone number and address; this displays the urgency to keep up with the times and heighten their social media presents on the interwebs to attract a younger, more tech friendly audience that is constantly on social media. Additionally, being the powerhouse company that I.M.P. Productions is, it owns more than one venue in the area, not just the Lincoln Theatre; so I can can understand one’s initial confusion logging on the the Lincoln Theatre website and seeing on the left side of the screen, ads and promotion for two completely different venues. On the Lincoln Theatre’s website there are ads posted of shows at the Merriweather Post Pavilion and the 9:30 Club, two other concert and live performance venues. I.M.P owns all three venues. The Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland is a giant concert venue that has indoor and outdoor seating and host large festivals such as DC’s Trillectro, every year. The 9:30 Club formally known as Nightclub 9:30 was opened in 1980 and then relocated in 1996 to its present location, on U Street about two blocks from the Lincoln Theatre.
On the Lincoln Theatre’s website a viewer can see that the website is designed to grab the attention of a younger, whiter audience than the theatre’s historical talent and audience has once reflected. The website is designed in a way that appears to be holding onto the the classic look of the theatre’s ambience but still trying to remain relevant through various social media platforms and promotion of other concert venues in the area. The website as a whole is reflective of the acts that perform at the Lincoln Theatre today as well as the ownership of the theatre. A person discovering the Lincoln Theatre for the first time and looking at the website, will see a new, modern, less diverse, and classy place to enjoy entertainment rather than the culture filled, fun, celebration of black culture and talent that the Lincoln Theatre once was. It must be acknowledged and addressed when there begins to be a recurring habit of erasing a certain history and at what point does that mean the certain person or people that created that history are erased too? This is the Lincoln Theatre’s website of today, an eraser of what the theatre once was and a display of what it is becoming, a mirror of a “revitalized” Washington DC.
When Samuel Beckett writes, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better” in Worstward Ho! Beckett is saying that in order to achieve progress, we must fail. Looking at this superficially, one may feel as though that this is counterproductive to what it means to progress but in fact it is not because every time we fail we learn something and learning is always in the direction of progress. What Beckett has to say about failure matters because society has put this stigma on the concept of failure as being “bad” or something that is not suppose to happen or that failure should be avoided and this in actuality isn’t the case, we should all try and fail and try again and fail.
Samuel Beckett would use such simple structures in his works, to deliver his point in a focused manner. He’re trying to prove a single point, why is it necessary to add things to the sentences that are just going to take away from this point or cloud his position? The saying is true that sometimes less is more and this structure absolutely affects how we read this. If Samuel Beckett were to use question marks after the first two sentences I think that it would certainly grab the reader’s attention but it would also leave the reader to answer the questions in their head about if they’ve ever tried and if they’ve ever failed. Answering of these questions in one’s own head is leading the reader to be caught up in his or her own thoughts of these memories rather that focusing and continue reading Beckett’s point which is what having a period mark forces one to do; same thing with an exclamation point it almost doesn’t leave any room for the reader to mentally “wander off” in his or her own thoughts. For these reasons, I think the simple structure that Samuel Beckett uses to deliver his point is highly effective.
I remember just like it was yesterday how damn good it felt to be home. Or at least what what like home to me. I took this picture standing in the ocean in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. The journey to Providenciales became quite a soul searching journey for me. A lot of terrible things happened to me when I was on the island and a lot of beautiful and spectacular things happened to me while I was on the island. Despite the good, bad and in between I got so much closer to finding out whom I truly was and who I am meant to be. I have always been proud of being black, my racial identity is something I’ve held very close to my heart and cared very much about, On the other hand, I like many other black people in America do not know my ethnicity due to the history of slavery. I could be Jamaican, Somali, Sudanese, Nigerian, Trinidadian, Native, Guyanese, Cuban, Malian, etc. but me and my ancestors were robbed of that knowledge after my people were sold into slavery. So rather than being proud to represent my ethnic heritage, I was left with the choice to be proud of my racial identity, that was socially constructed by the white man and when people ask me what I am I simply respond….. ”I am black” not because Im trying to be secretive or curt but simply because that is all that I know.
Due to this dilemma, my sister and I chose to do some research on our family history as much as we possibly could and it led us to this beautiful, stunning, miraculous place of Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. We found that more than likely, this is the place of our ethnic heritage and background. Given my last name “Tucker” which in itself is a slave name, most of the people sold into slavery and sent to North Carolina were from the Turks and Caicos Islands with the last name “Tucker” which why everyone on the Island thought that my sister and I were locals. Besides that evidence of the last name, my sister and I physically looked like all of the Islanders, the women had small, muscular frames with beautiful dark skin. The men looked just like my father, tall, broad shoulders, large eyes, strong cheekbones and dark skin. Although never having been to this place, it was ridiculously familiar to me, the people, the music, the food, the dress, the slang, everything just felt like I was suppose to be here and it was only a return rather than a visit.
When I look at this picture, I can still tasted the fresh Conch that Skylar and I would go diving in the ocean for and pull out of the water to eat raw. When I look at this picture I still remember dancing my heart out at the junkanoo every Thursday night with the island calypso and soca music and waking up to the sun hitting my face early mornings, when I look at this picture I am reminded that Providenciales, Turks and Caicos is HOME.
When I saw this ad on Facebook I was disgusted. It made me sick to my stomach. I don’t care what the heck they’re selling, this person in the ad has and Om symbol in his/her foot. How dare they? How incredibly rude and disrespectful can this company, Pura Vida be? In Hindu culture, the Om is a sacred symbol that is to be held to the highest esteem and is to be absolutely nowhere near the ground and especially NOT the feet, one of the dirtiest parts of one’s body. This image is hurtful and highly offensive, and it is evident to me that the marketing team and creators are culture competent. I did a bit of research on the team and one the creators, two young caucasian guys that are both recent college graduates. I am SO incredibly sick and tired and fed up of white people thinking its “cute” trendy” and “hipster” to exploit, disrespect and appropriate culture from people of color. This isn’t okay and there are a ton of advertisements and rhetoric like this and its absolutely absurd. There’s a difference between appropriation and appreciation. If one TRULY appreciated the culture they would know and understand that nothing about placing an Om on the foot is okay, this isn’t cool at all. I was so upset about this, I decided to give this company a call and after they chose not to pick up the phone, I decided to write a strongly worded email, to the marketing head of this company expressing my disappointment and disgust and asking them to remove this ad from all the platforms. I doubt that they’ll even acknowledge my email but I know I did something to speak out against something that I find disturbing and hurtful.
In Part II of “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Designs of the Built Environment,” Sarah Schindler outlines the various ways states and communities actively practice architectural exclusion which further perpetuate racism and classism. The methods of architectural exclusion are addressed were physical barriers, transit laws, placement of highways and one way streets, An example of a physical barrier that was used to keep a race of people out of certain area was the Long Island bridge that purposefully was constructed to hang low so that the tall public transportation buses couldn’t under them. The public transportation buses were typically used by the african american people and low income people in that area. Robert Moses, the architect responsible for the bridge actively made sure the bridge’s over pass wasn’t tall enough for buses to get through, the same way he made sure not to extend the railroad’s because all these pathways lead to Jones Beach an area he wanted to keep for only white upper middle class people and keep black people out of entirely. Moses as an architect willingly made it purposefully difficult for a specific race and class of people to physically enter a certain community.
Communities also engage in Architectural exclusion through the infrastructure of public transportation design and spaces. Many cities such as Washington DC, Atlanta, and San Francisco have middle class white residents voting to keep public transportation stops out of their communities because of the fact that the majority of people that take public transportation in these cities are African American and/or low income. These communities are purposely voting again certain transit amendments to exclude people from their community based upon race and class.
The placement of highways and one way streets also are part of architectural exclusion practices, these structures are placed in ways that separate one group of people from another and both of these structures make it more difficult to enter a community. Highways are placed in between affluent communities or towns and the urban areas that are majority low income making it inconvenient and difficult for those to the low income communities to travel and get across to the suburban affluent communities because of multi-lane highway danger. One way streets act in a similar way, where it is very difficult to get in and out of a neighbor due to a long winding road that is also a one way street. This inconvenient and confusing route of entry into neighbors deters people from entering that are not from those neighborhoods. The people that typically live in these neighborhoods are non-people of color that are in the middle class or upper class.
The supporting, defending, and constructing of these architecturally exclusive structures are problematic and detrimental in a number of ways. One way streets, physical structures, highways and transit infrastructure continue to isolate and marginalize people of color and people that are poor and low income. Racially prejudice and discriminatory acts are now just being disguised through these practices rather than being confronted, dealt with, and addressed justly.
I was at this concert, front row with floor seats. This night was absolutely amazing. Daystar Peterson, known as Tory Lanez is probably my favorite new artist right now, not because I feel that he is some incredible talent but because of the way he shares his heart with others through his music in a way that touches those who are forgotten about by society. Whenever I see this photos I remember what a blast i had at this concert, but even more so than that i’m reminded of his heart. This photo was taken from Tory’s Instagram page, every show on the I Told You Tour he is known from walking on the audience and crowd surfing for more than half the show so no matter where you are in the venue you have a chance to touch his hand or see him up close! This eliminates the idea of class throughout the entire show; typically those with most money get to purchased the expensive meet and greet passes or they get front row tickets which allows them to be right in front of the artist. The people in the back of venue barely get to see the artist all all and these are also the least expensive tickets but Tory goes everywhere in the venue, so everyone at some point in the show gets a “front row” seat. Additionally, during this show he had the audience lift one of his fans up that was in a wheelchair at the show; he had the other people he was crowd surfing on move him to meet the guys so they could touch hands, this to me was so incredibly awesome. Based upon our race, social economic standing, physical disability, gender, sexual orientation or age, we tend to be forgotten about and it takes people to stand up and bring the light back our way when the rest of the world has forgotten about us in any of these identities. Tory Lanez was a hero at this show, not only did he make sure this young man wasn’t forgotten or left behind, he made sure he shared the spotlight with him.
This is another image capture outside of the Lincoln Theatre, I wanted to capture another view of the theatre but the surrounding area as well and I noticed the older building across the street that had a faded Coca-Cola logo on the side of the building that was slowly disappearing. It makes be wonder what this area of U Street and around the Lincoln Theatre was like many years ago, to have a famous theatre across from what was probably a factory probably made this one of the busiest sections of U Street but also was probably where most people went to work, either at the Coca-Cola Factory or having a job at the theatre. In this area I didn’t see much of any housing or living quarters, but around the theatre in general are a lot of eateries and stores, the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl right next door to the theatre is sure to bring some traffic to the theatre as well.
This image was taken down the street on the right side of the Lincoln Theatre. In the center of the frame we can see the awning as well as the Lincoln Theatre sign, I found this photo particularly interesting because of the bus that was stopped just feet away from the theatre doors. This is best for economic purposes of the the metro as well as the theatre; people will pay for the metro bus because it nearly stops right in front of the theatre doors and people are more willing and likely to go see a show that the theatre because it’s easily accessible, making it economically fulfilling for both entities.
These are the doors of the Lincoln Theatre, a dark burgundy red painted wood with a shapely glass window booth painted gold. Although it’s hard to see from the image captured, the floors in front of the theatre are a polished gray stone. The transparency of the doors on both sides of the theatre ticket booth are well fitted for the theatre decor but don’t necessarily allow one to see inside the lobby of the actual theatre because there is another set of doors past these outside doors which gives an appearance of inclusiveness but if one were to directly walk up to the windows to peer inside for a look, they wouldn’t be able to actually see in the lobby and evidently so realizing that its more exclusive than appears.