The funk sub-genre of gogo music is the heartbeat of Washington, D.C.
Strolling through the historic Shaw neighborhood - once a thriving arts center with nightclubs and concert venues welcoming Black artists in a segregated city - you could hear the bass-heavy music pulsing through speakers outside a Metro PCS store that has done so for decades.
Until one day, the music shut off.
A new neighbor in the now heavily gentrified area called the corporate office to complain about the store’s “noise,” which forced the owner to pull the plug.
Immediately the void of culture and joy at the iconic corner of 7th Street and Florida Avenue NW sparked outrage from natives already displaced by the rising cost of living.
But gogo lovers refused to be silenced, and the #UnMuteDC campaign was born.
Online petitions collected over 64,000 signatures, while protests and concerts created such a stir that T-Mobile, Metro PCS’s parent company, changed its mind and let the gogo play on.
Yet even with this single win, preserving the culture of Chocolate City is going to take a continued dialogue between natives, politicians, corporations, and newcomers.
The rights and needs of Black residents to freely exist must be respected rather than be silenced and shut out by hostile policy enactments that force us to vacate spaces where we once felt welcome.