In “Shaw’s Main Drag” by Arthur Delaney (9/23), Johnny Howard, chair of Shiloh Baptist Church’s Board of Deacons, in an August 9 letter regarding Vegetate wrote, “The very idea that rampant restaurant, lounge, bar, nightclubs are what are [sic] youth need to see is a total insult to this historic African American Community.” Obviously, Howard has been living in the safe harbor of a community well outside the borders of Shaw, because he failed to also note the other total insults taking place every day in this historic African-American community:
•The nearly dozen abandoned buildings that serve as neighborhood dumpsters and squatter residences,
•The corner liquor stores serving singles in paper bags to clearly intoxicated individuals,
•The rampant and obvious drug dealing and the violence that stems from such activities that occurs within in Shaw,
•The use of alleyways for trash dumping, prostitution, and drug use, and
•The lack of local businesses that residents want to patronize.
•Did I mention trash, everywhere?
These bullets are what the children of Shaw see in the morning when they go to school and in the evenings when they walk home. To me, that’s the insult. Why? Because it sends the message to these children that that’s what an African-American community looks like.
Is this the message we want to send, or do we push ahead toward the future, take an active role in revitalization, and not hold back those entrepreneurs attempting to revitalize and establish anchor businesses in this Shaw corridor, those attempting to create some job opportunities, and those whose efforts will add to D.C.’s highly needed tax receipts?
I would suggest to Howard that he sit down and re-evaluate what children in this historic African-American community need to be seeing: progress or stagnation?