Thoughts and photos from the gilded ghetto | Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City, by Derek Hyra

2016.07.12 Shaw, DC Washington, DC USA 07073-Edit
2016.07.12 Shaw, DC Washington, DC USA 07073-Edit (View on Flickr.com)

I had been reading about this book in several venues (who have used my photographs in conjunction) and feel extremely fortunate to live in a place that has whole books written about it. On a regular basis. Across generations. Because there is always something to learn, and I am always learning something, especially here.

2017.08.29 Shaw Neighborhood, Washington, DC USA 8315
2017.08.29 Shaw Neighborhood, Washington, DC USA 8315 (View on Flickr.com)
2017.08.29 Shaw Neighborhood, Washington, DC USA 8319
2017.08.29 Shaw Neighborhood, Washington, DC USA 8319 (View on Flickr.com)

“There are only four stories: a love story between two people, a love story between three people, the struggle for power, and the journey. Every single book that is in the bookstore deals with these four archetypes, these four themes.”

Paulo Coelho, in Ferriss, Timothy. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers (p. 511). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

The book has been widely discussed in other places, with rich and passionate conversation, some on the hostile side directed at the author. It’s about the conversion of this part of Washington, DC to a “gilded ghetto,” which attracts people of different backgrounds to a very deprived place that’s “Black Branded.”

I’m in this place and have met some of the scholars (see: Dog Parks & Coffee Shops + Leadership Networks doing work here) and respect what they are teaching.

What I’d like to add to this work are some images from this most important learning lab in our nation today.

Micro-segregation

  • I see it. It’s the dog park that’s next to the soccer field, next to the basketball court, next to the skateboarding park. On the day I went to take photos, volunteers were spending time cleaning the dog park. There were no volunteers cleaning the skateboard park or soccer field. The groups of people in each section did not mingle.
2017.09.01 Scenes from Shaw, Washington, DC USA 8375-HDR
2017.09.01 Scenes from Shaw, Washington, DC USA 8375-HDR (View on Flickr.com)
2017.09.01 Scenes from Shaw, Washington, DC USA 8367
2017.09.01 Scenes from Shaw, Washington, DC USA 8367 (View on Flickr.com)
  • At the same time, there are connections that can take place, over longer periods of time. I still remember this interaction I had in 2014:
S and 7th Streets, Washington, DC USA 50493
S and 7th Streets, Washington, DC USA 50493 – She asked ” Are you a photographer? Because I want to be one” (View on Flickr.com)
  • I have planted Vermont Avenue with Frank Smith
2017.04.29 Vermont Ave Garden-Work Party Washington, DC USA 4144
2017.04.29 Vermont Ave Garden-Work Party Washington, DC USA 4144 (View on Flickr.com)

Like many people here (and most humans) I was raised in a place intolerant to people of different ethnicities and sexual minority status and bathed in a media environment that promoted those same attitudes. I went to a medical school and joined a profession that harbored homophobic attitudes. My implicit bias testing shows the result. I will forever be working to modulate and eliminate the biases that were wired into me. I came to Washington, DC, in part, to accelerate that process.

The LGB community (See more about ‘T’ and ‘Q’ below)

  • I was impressed and felt respect to see the inclusion of the LGB (see comment below about excluding the “T”) component of changes happening in this neighborhood.
  • The story of the death of Tony Raldolph Hunter, a gay man beaten by a 19 year old, semi-penetrated my soul, because I remember it. Sort of. I have been to BeBar, (which is now gone) a few times. Several of the web sites that chronicled what happened are no longer online. There is no memory of his death on the street today. There is also no memory of the death of a 15 year old and 8 other people who were wounded at the City Market shooting in 1994, just a few blocks away. These things are forgotten. There’s an empathy gap – it’s a microcosm of our country.

  • Vigil for Tony Randolph Hunter 9/27/08

    2017.08.29 Shaw Neighborhood, Washington, DC USA 8287
    2017.08.29 Shaw Neighborhood, Washington, DC USA 8287 (View on Flickr.com)
    2017.08.29 Shaw Neighborhood, Washington, DC USA 8301
    2017.08.29 Shaw Neighborhood, Washington, DC USA 8301 (View on Flickr.com)
    2017.08.29 Shaw Neighborhood, Washington, DC USA 8294
    2017.08.29 Shaw Neighborhood, Washington, DC USA 8294 (View on Flickr.com)

    Bringing back in: People who are transgender #TransVisibility

    • Hyra focuses on “sexual orientation” and doesn’t discuss gender identity.
  • Part of the modern transgender rights movement was born in Shaw, with the death of Tyra Hunter in 1995 at the hands of DC EMS (see my blog post on this topic). As much as there is discussion of gentrifiers and non-gentrifiers, there’s the significance of the rebirth of U street as the home to other defining civil rights movements of our time, such as Capital TransPride, in the same spaces where the city was once smashed to rubble after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. The populations coming together here all share historic vulnerabilities in different life stages.

  • RePhotography 14th and U Street  00777-HDR-Edit
    RePhotography 14th and U Street 00777-HDR-Edit – 1968-2015 (View on Flickr.com)
    2016.04.25 Vermont Avenue, Washington, DC USA 04390
    2016.04.25 Vermont Avenue, Washington, DC USA 04390 – The shuttered Grimke School, at one time the home of the DC EMS, held responsible for the death of Tyra Hunter in 1995 (View on Flickr.com)
    1900Vermont 00001 160402-Edit
    Vermont Avenue, then and now. The original photo shows the presence of DC EMS vehicles parked in front of Grimke School (View on Flickr.com)
    DC People and Places 54033
    DC People and Places 54033 – The Reeves Center – Born at one of the epicenters of Washington, DC’s destruction in 1968. Later, the home of Capital TransPride in 2015 (View on Flickr.com)
    • The discussion about why existing residents don’t go to meetings led by new entrants makes the modern transgender rights movement even more significant in my mind. We have Ruby Corado, who doesn’t miss any meeting when it comes to making the city a better place.
    Chosen Family  00777
    Chosen Family 00777 (View on Flickr.com)
    Community Pioneers Awards and Reception 2015 Rainbow History Project 55234
    Community Pioneers Awards and Reception 2015 Rainbow History Project 55234 (View on Flickr.com)
    Community Pioneers Awards and Reception 2015 Rainbow History Project 55254
    Community Pioneers Awards and Reception 2015 Rainbow History Project 55254 (View on Flickr.com)

    Winners and Losers

    • In the book, there’s a kind of establishment of winners and losers, within the confines of U Street and Shaw.
  • Is the dichotomy between new and existing residents of this part of the city, or is it between this part of the city and the rest of Washington, DC, where the obesity rate is 7% and the number of people without health insurance is less than 3. Not less than 3 percent. Less than 3 people. Every map shows this disparity.

  • Obesity by Ward, Washington, DC USA 51195
    Obesity by Ward, Washington, DC USA 51195 (View on Flickr.com)
    • Back to Ruby for a second, she is not a winners and losers leader. This one of my first exposures to her
    "Until everyone has what they need, we can't say we are one city." casarubydc #health #equality #dc
    “Until everyone has what they need, we can’t say we are one city.” @casarubydc #health #equality #dc (View on Flickr.com)

    I really enjoyed the book and I recommend it – it made me think. The process used to create it is one I respect, embedding in the community and observing – it’s the way to avoid pitfalls in what is a very nuanced discussion.

    When to put away your moral compass “Our point is, if you try to approach every problem with your moral compass, first and foremost, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. You’re going to exclude a lot of possible good solutions. You’re going to assume you know a lot of things, when in fact you don’t, and you’re not going to be a good partner in reaching a solution with other people who don’t happen to see the world the way you do.”

    Stephen Dubner in Ferriss, Timothy. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers (p. 575). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

    I came here to learn and I haven’t been in any other place in the world where I learn more than here about health and life. While what’s happened here has happened, there are several other parts of Washington, DC where what’s happened is about to happen (NoMA, H Street, and eventually Wards 7-8). Washington, DC is the best learning lab for the future if there ever was one.

    Comments always welcome.

    More scenes of Shaw below. I like to say that it’s being destroyed for the third time now – the first time in 1968, the second time in the late 1980’s, the third time in this century. All photographs are @CreativeCommons licensed, feel free to use.



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