Georgetown’s Hidden History

This article could not have come at a better time.  While some people in main stream America do not want to confront true history, there are still some who find it necessary, and I thank those who understand.  I am a 30 y/o black professional who is trying to live the “American Dream” or the perception of the dream.  I am beginning to believe that the “dream” is something that was made up or created to exclude certain people for various reasons.  To fully understand me, main stream America must free their minds.    

For the past month or so I have read message boards and blog pages about the increase of violent crime in the Washington, D.C. area.  The latest crime that comes to mind is the murder of the young man from Great Britain.  The media has decided not to focus attention on the other murders this month because the crime was committed in an “unusual” area of the District.  Crime is unusual in Georgetown because it is an affluent area of the District. 

According to the police officer assigned to this area, it’s unusual to see black people in Georgetown.  Contrary to popular belief, there are hard working law abiding black people are also concerned by the recent increase in crime.  We get frustrated with crime just like our white counterparts.  We are college educated, raise families and have the same concerns (probably more concerned because of how we are stereotyped) as the next main stream American.  But for some reason I have been categorized as “unusual.”  

I found this odd, because the last time I checked, black people visit and live in Georgetown.  We shop and dine in the historic district on a daily basis.  You can walk down any street in Georgetown and see a diverse collage of people.  So how did my existence and presence all of a sudden become “unusual?”

Historically, main stream America has been the cause of many social ills in this country because of this unusual complex some people have.  I can tell you what was and is not unusual.  It was not unusual for main stream America to enslave and socially break down descendants of African’s in this country.  It was not unusual to whip, brutalize and loath black people because of the color of their skin.  It was also not unusual for these very same people, some who were the framers of our government including Presidents, to own slaves.  And it was not unusual for main stream America to fear black people so much that they segregated themselves from us. All of this because some felt that black people were unusually different because of the color of our skin.  Now if I were to base my opinion of white people based on the past events in history I would be totally out of line.  I fully understand that not all white people are racist.  I would never judge or assume that all white people are racist based on the actions of some. 

One would think that main stream America would have become familiar with black people by now.  Well maybe after reading this article some of you will understand that there is really nothing unusual about me or my people.  Some may prejudge and assume that since the majority of violent crimes in the District are being committed by black people, that somehow we are all violent people.  Some white people have made that quite clear by messages I have read this month.  I wonder how they would feel if black people assumed that all young white male teenagers were psychotic unstable kids since the majority of shooting sprees in suburban high schools in this country (columbine and countless more) were committed by white male teenagers.  Can you imagine making that kind of prejudgment?  Actually I can because I experience it everyday in some shape or form.  You want to hear something else unusual?  This article in the Washington Post discusses just how USUAL it was and is to see black people in Georgetown….

Georgetown’s Hidden History

By Andrew Stephen

First, it was a slave port. Later, it was a thriving center of black life. Today, it’s a virtually all-white enclave. Why?

Great Side piece to read along with the above article 

This is a great side piece for history of Georgetown editorial.  As I read this piece, I completely connected with the interviewees.  Especially when they talked about people approaching them at their doors asking to speak to the owner of the home, assuming they were hired help.  This perception and attitude still exist in the work place and in the daily lives of black people. 

Those of us who are educated professionals know the feeling all too well.  Some people at work second guessing you, or treating you as if you are not educated as they are so they doubt your ability to perform the full functions of your job.  Let me clarify that it is not all of main stream America that foster these attitudes, but there is huge amount that do.  

‘We’re Still Here’

There was the good — the closeness of family, community and church. More starkly, there was the bad — segregation, discrimination, second-class citizenship. Over five generations, the Jacksons of Georgetown have experienced it all. They’ve watched the face of the neighborhood change as black…

7 Responses

  1. The Post article was certainly timely, and your context for it is very good.

  2. Great Article!!! Interesting that we STILL are plagued with the race question.

  3. There may not necessarily be an increase in crime so much as an increase in reports and arrests. With the onset on gentrification i areas such as Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, and Mount Pleasant, you have a lot of people moving in from the VA and MD suburbs who are having people arrested for such things as loitering, which, when I lived in that area, was just considered hanging out.

    (21/DC currently attending UVA)

  4. well said.

    especially
    “One would think that main stream America would have become familiar with black people by now.”

    it’s mind boggling really.

  5. Excellent post. Marc Fisher’s column in today’s Post expresses some of the other side to the coin of the crime in an “unusual” area making the news: less affluent communities have been under assault from criminals for a good long time but rather than getting support they get stigmatized.

  6. Good to hear. And what is not so unusual is that Andrew Stephen is a Brit, not American. If only more Americans – and especially white Americans – would express such curiosity, insight and honesty. Stephen comments that “… so many white Americans choose either not to know or to forget: the roots of racial animosity and why their legacy persists to this day.” I think it is because white Americans don’t want to know or can’t really grasp it (yes, there are exceptions to the rule), just as they don’t really want to know or can’t grasp what is happening in Lebanon, or Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere around the world where U.S. policy and intervention has led to suffering and fear and – in some extreme cases – hatred. Ergo the root cause of 911. But back to DC and Georgetown and what is or isn’t “unusual”. It is unusual to find someone who views others, whether they be black or white or from any ethnic background different from their own, as a living being, as a miracle of life. It says something about how we view ourselves too. Maybe someday this won’t be so unusual.

  7. […] What does it mean when a crime is committed in an “unusual” area? Native Son writes: Some may prejudge and assume that since the majority of violent crimes in the District are being committed by black people, that somehow we are all violent people. Some white people have made that quite clear by messages I have read this month. I wonder how white people would feel if black people assumed that all young white male teenagers were psychotic unstable kids since the majority of shooting sprees in suburban high schools in this country (columbine and countless more) were committed by white male teenagers. Can you imagine making that kind of prejudgment? […]

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