Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Integration & Gentrification

Posted late because I've been trying to tone it down.

Courtland Milloy of the Washington Post has an article in today's paper about the price of races and classes not being truly integrated outside the workplace and schools. In Milloy's article the price for white living in segregated neighborhoods is paying too much for substandard housing and the price for African Americans is the lack of economic development. In DC whites congregate in areas west of the park and blacks, the rest of the city, with the odd integrated neighborhoods in the middle. My part of Shaw is one of those odd somewhat integrated neighborhoods.
My version of events of why my little corner is integrated causes great concern on my part about my corner's ability to remain integrated. Gentrification and the crazy housing prices are why I'm concerned. I can't say that Blacks are being pushed out, as I have written before, people move around a lot on their own and when one set moves out they can get replaced by a different set. What I will say for Shaw is that you have some people moving out, and new people moving in as the natural ebb and flow of how people live. In addition you have vacant properties and new higher density development coming in, which may increase the numbers of one racial group over another. With higher numbers, when there used to be fewer, if any, it could give the impression that the new group, middle class whites, is pushing out the older poorer and middle class Afro-American residents and changing the complexion of the neighborhood. Whites are not pushing out Black residents, but they may overwhelmingly outnumber the Black residents who weather the gentrification.
I see new developments popping up like mushrooms around U Street, down Florida Ave and all around Shaw. My first thought is "ohmygawd traffic is going to be a nightmare." But as I write this, I realize that those developments will be typically filled with non-Blacks. Typically. For some odd reason middle class Blacks tend to flee to PG County, so part of me doubts they will fill more than 50% of the mid-rise developments. For poor African Americans, these new developments, unless specifically made affordable, not an option.
I'm afraid Shaw will not be an integrated neighborhood in the future, should Black residents continue to move out (besides voting rights and bigger yards what does PG Co, have that we don't have?). There should be a balance. The different races should be balanced in that we see each other on a daily basis and get to know each other on a human level. Yet enough of ourselves, no matter who we are, to be ourselves in our own homes.


At 11/10/2004 11:34 PM, Blogger onlineguy said...

Maybe it has something to do with where the people come from? So many Black people have lived in the city for a long time, maybe "moving up" still means "moving to the suburbs." And so many white people come here from somewhere else, usually the suburbs of another city, especially if they're young, that maybe "moving up" means "moving into a cool inner-city neighborhood." I know it did for me when I moved into DC 25 years ago...

-- Andy

At 11/10/2004 11:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who in her right mind would suffer though all the problems that plagued Shaw throughout the 80’s and 90’s, just to leave when the community is on the upswing?

What you are seeing isn't natural ebb and flow, its economic survival of the fittest. Poor and working class people (mostly minorities) who live in Shaw are being displaced by relatively wealthy (mostly white) folks. These folks are not fleeing to PG because they like it better, PG has nothing to offer when compared to the NEW & IMPROVED Shaw, they are moving there because it’s the closest place to DC that they can afford.

Whatever integration you perceive in Shaw is just transitional.

At 11/11/2004 8:09 AM, Blogger Mari said...

Oh I'm not leaving, I just got here. Besides the deal with the devil I made to get this crumbly pile of bricks kinda binds me to the house for many more years. I have pondered PG County, only because of my employment and family in the region. PG is also improving, go up RT 1 and see.
Wealthy is relative. One person's wealthy is another's middle class.
I do like some of the new improvements of Shaw, I'm just a bit aprehensive about the impact that these new ventures will have on the demographics of Shaw.
So Anonymous will Shaw still have a healthy population of middle class African Americans? Will I still be able to walk down the street and feel like I still belong?

At 11/11/2004 2:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That depends on what you consider healthy. Will there be as many AA’s in Shaw as there are now? No. As affordable housing leaves so will the poor, rising property taxes will push out marginal and even some not-so-marginal middle-class folk. And since Shaw has been an African-American neighborhood, most of the people being displaced will be AA. Unless AA’s can get in on the ground floor of the development in Shaw, most will be priced out of the market. You picked an excellent time to move into the neighborhood. You are going to get an outstanding return on your investment in the next decade or so.

Feeling like you belong depends on what you’re comfortable with. Ten years ago, I would guess that Shaw was 80 percent or more African-American. Ten years from now I estimate it will be less than half AA. Twenty years from now Shaw will look like Georgetown. New York/Mass. Avenue will be Shaw’s M Street and the only AA’s you’ll see are Howard U Students and NY Avenue shoppers.

aka Anonymous in previous post


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