City Paper is not for tourists
Last night, Lydia DePillis attended a panel on gentrification in Ward 8. The meeting, convened by Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry, was less about race (white people aren’t moving to the ward in meaningful numbers) and more about the long game—-whether displacement of older residents was inevitable. Lydia pulled out four major takeaways; of particular interest to me was number three:
The most raw split is between those who see poverty as something that’s almost impossible to escape and in need of substantial government investment, and those who focus instead on the need for residents to bootstrap their way up. ANC Commissioner Ab Jordan, frequently referencing the deterministic Markov chain, excoriated fellow commissioner Darrell Gaston—a younger guy who’s after Barry’s seat—for calling black people lazy after Gaston argued that gentrification could be a good thing and that the government makes it too easy for Ward 8 residents to live off public assistance.
This is fascinating to me because it speaks to an internal struggle the black community has faced since the Antebellum period. Though outsiders tend to lump blacks into one (liberal Democrat) group, there’s always been a economic and social conservative vs. liberal argument happening. And in the context of gentrification, it’s especially notable, since both sides of this very contentious fight truly believe they’re arguing for the best interests of the whole.