The Massive Gentrification of D.C. Will Surprise You

People's Climate March 2017/DCpeopleandeventsof2017/WikiMedia/CC BY-SA 4.0

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Chocolate City, no more! The Black population in Washington, D.C. has shrunk from being the overwhelming majority, to less than half. For a city so rich in Black history, it is hard to digest this statistic. Yet, the numbers don’t lie.

As Black Americans, we typically find the idea of gentrification cringe-worthy. That’s because too many of us know the drill.

First: new developments spring up, leaving the neighborhood unrecognizable. Next: prices rise, forcing many long-term residents to pack up and leave. And last: those of us who were fortunate enough to withstand the changes must welcome the influx of new residents who have no ties to our community.

Often, the newcomers treat us like strangers in our own neighborhoods.

This is what it must have felt like in 2015 when unfounded reports in D.C. newspapers consistently accused Black people of suspicious and illegal activity.

The most heavily reported incident involved Jason Goolsby. He was the subject of a 911 phone call, when a woman claimed she was afraid of being robbed after Goolsby simply held the door for her while leaving the bank.

What makes the shift in culture even more unsettling is that D.C. has historically been progressive. For example, D.C. outlawed slavery well-before Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Additionally, D.C. was the first public school district to integrate their segregated public schools. Yet, as it stands, even in Georgetown, the Black population has dwindled from 40% in the 1800s to 3%, today.

It's time to look into how to reclaim our city and reserve the chocolate, so that every time we visit it feels like home sweet home!

If you’re interested in learning about D.C.’s Black history, check out Black Men Built the Capitol: Discovering African-American History In and Around Washington, D.C.

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