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I was sitting in my living room when I read Herbert A. Sample’s article, “Why I Can’t Live in the ‘Hood No More” (2/9). My living room window looks out at Sample’s former house on the corner of 12th Place and Florida Avenue NW. It is not every day that you get to read about your street in the paper. I read Sample’s whining about kids leaning on his fence and the supposed drug dealing on the street that caused him to leave the neighborhood, and I wished him good riddance.
My wife and I bought a two-bedroom house and moved here from a top-floor apartment on 16th Street with a view of the White House and the Washington Monument. We wanted to be near the vibrancy of the U Street corridor and get out of the overly white Dupont area. In a very frustrating sense, we are a part of the thing we are fleeing. We wanted to find a diverse neighborhood, but the housing market that makes it possible for us to move here also threatens the diversity that we seek.
Our first night in this house was the night Sample and several others got bricks thrown through their windows. We thought it was done as an angry expression against the gentrification that was changing the face of this neighborhood. Because we were the newest white faces on the block, we wondered why our windows had been spared. Thanks to Sample’s letter, we now know it was done in retaliation for petitioning the police to arrest individuals on our street.
Though I hear the neighborhood has changed a lot in the past five years, we have had the opportunity to observe all the actions that bothered Sample so much. People do stand on the street corner, generally talking and laughing. Every once in a while, I get a whiff of burning cannabis on the way to my car. But other than that occasional olfactory sensation, our lives are little affected by the alleged drug dealing. There are no dangerous kingpins rolling by in pimped-out Cads with tinted windows. We have no worries about anyone getting shot, because there hasn’t even been a fistfight.
As for Sample’s worries about the future of the “black underclass”that’s their own business. But the young adults whom Sample accuses of “caustic social behaviors” can often be seen sweeping up other people’s trash along the sidewalks up and down the block.
I appreciate the friendliness of the black families on our street; we moved here for the diversity of the neighborhood and will regret the day any black family moves out, especially those accused by Sample. However, we don’t regret that Sample moved his attitude out.