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B.J. on the White People Moving in

Friday, September 17th, 2010

“Man, I can talk about Washington all day. I have lived in this city my whole life. I have seen this place change in a way that I don’t like. Let me talk at you for a minute about it. My neighborhood used to be all black. A white person would never, and I mean never, come passing through.

“For 30 years or better, we lived how we lived. We hung out on the stoop because we couldn’t afford air conditioning. We had cookouts in the backyard with music. We dealt with problems our own way and didn’t need no police. We lived in neighborhoods where you knew everyone on the block, and could rely on them. Then, the white people started moving in.

“I am not trying to sound racist, but everything changed after that. When the neighborhood started to become more white, things became less neighborly. White people mostly stayed in their houses and didn’t do much to meet the neighbors. That doesn’t create a neighborhood, it creates nothing but a series of houses next to each other. Maybe they stay in because they are scared. Thing is, if they are so scared, why’d they buy the damn house to begin with?

For 30 years or better, we lived how we lived. Then, the white people started moving in.

“Now, when we hang out on the stoop, the cops roll up on us and give us a hard time. Come on man, the police didn’t even show up when I got shot four times around the block from my house when I was 17. I learned not to need them then, and I sure as hell don’t need them now. Now, they roll up in two cars over a noise complaint. Are you kidding me? That ain’t right.

Twenty one years later, B.J. still has the scars from his four gunshot wounds.

“You can think what you want about what I am saying, but I see everyday how my neighborhood has changed, and how blacks and whites are treated differently. My neighbors, these white kids, threw a party with music until four in the morning with a hundred bikes locked up on the street that blocked people’s driveways and made a big mess. Didn’t no cops show up. I had a cook out with my friends in our backyard and the cops stormed through the alleyway and broke it up because we were being loud. How am I supposed to understand that? Tell me that I shouldn’t be angry about what I see. I’ve been living in this place my whole live and now some new comers tell me how to do what I do.

“When you step into a neighborhood, you need to step correct. If not, you can’t expect no one to respect you. A lot of these white people need to learn a thing or two about respect and how our neighborhoods work before they come in and try to change things. I ain’t being racist, I am just being real. You know what I am saying.”

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14 Comments »

  1. As a white person, I find this offensive. We don’t all ruin black neighborhoods. Many of us work to make them better. B.J’s comments are insensitive and I would go so far as to say, racist.

    Comment by Carter — September 17, 2010 @ 9:52 am

  2. Carter, If you are so ignorant and closed minded that you can’t see any legitimacy to his story then I pity you. While I don’t like when people speak in generalizations, BJ makes some solid points. Maybe you just need to open your eyes Carter.

    Comment by Dr. J — September 17, 2010 @ 10:02 am

  3. How do you find this remotely offensive? You can disagree with what he’s saying but I don’t think there’s anything offensive about it. It’s just a different perspective from what you’re used to. I don’t agree with some of the things BJ says – I definitely wouldn’t want to leave my house if people are getting shot four times on the street. But he’s absolutely right about the police double standard. We hear all about gentrification but never from the perspective of the people who were there before. I’m glad to read BJ’s post – hope for more insight from him.

    Comment by DSG — September 17, 2010 @ 10:48 am

  4. Thanks for the honesty BJ. I am less friendly that I should be in my mostly black neighborhood, but if it makes you feel any better, I am a pretty anti-social person to everyone! Will make a point of trying to be more neighborly moving forward.

    Comment by Chase — September 17, 2010 @ 10:59 am

  5. I’m with Carter, this guy is out of line and offensive. I am tired of black people telling me that white people make neighborhoods worse. We make things worse by making things cleaner, quieter and less dangerous. Wow, sounds like a horrible place to live. I pity BJ.

    Comment by Just me — September 17, 2010 @ 11:05 am

  6. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Manmeet Mehta and HubDC, Danny Harris. Danny Harris said: New PD Story: B.J. on the White People Moving in http://peoplesdistrict.com/b-j-on-the-white-people-moving-in [...]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention B.J. on the White People Moving in « People's District -- Topsy.com — September 17, 2010 @ 12:02 pm

  7. Well, this is bound to be a controversial post.

    As much as black people moving into a predominantly white neighborhood doesn’t “ruin” that neighbhorhood… the same is true for white people moving into a predominantly black neighborhood. Black neighbors aren’t necessarily more friendly, white neighbors aren’t necessarily more quiet, clean, etc.

    If there is a problem with police response, than that needs to be addressed. Police should definitely break up a loud, disruptive party at 4 in the morning whether or not it’s white or black folks. If anybodey wants to hang out on their own stoop and they aren’t harrassing passersby or being disruptive in any way, they should be free to do so.

    My neighborhood is equal parts white, black, brown, yellow, etc and I LOVE it. Some people are always scowling and never make eye contact, some people stay in their houses only leaving for work, some people strike up conservations at the mailbox, some people smile and open doors. It takes all kinds.

    Comment by Grace — September 17, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

  8. In DC there is a large class divide along racial lines. The culture of working class black people and middle/upper class white people is vastly different and this is a source of a lot of the tensions. White people are buying in Columbia Heights for several reason which include beautiful housing stock, once cheap houses, and walkiblity.

    Also this person talks about respect, what kind of respect does the black community in columbia heights have? These people burned and looted the neighborhood during the MLK riots which sent the neighborhood into a death spiral for 30 years. The neighborhood became terrible – yeah what a great sense of community where your fellow neighbors would shoot you 4 times. how about building a community park in the interior of the block like white people are doing now? The way “your” neighborhood worked was dsyfunctional.

    Comment by jonny — September 17, 2010 @ 12:16 pm

  9. [...] District, which is probably my favorite DC blog in the history of ever, interviews “B.J. on the white people moving in.” Unsurprisingly, the narrative goes a little something like this: “I am not trying to sound [...]

    Pingback by To make up for this week’s insufficient roundup… « GOOD HOPE — September 21, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

  10. I can see his point. I moved into a mostly black, but gentrifying neighborhood. I don’t think our neighbors expect that we’ll be best friends, but they really appreciate when you at least give a smile and hello. In these types of situations, a little effort goes a long way.

    Comment by Chuck — September 22, 2010 @ 9:35 am

  11. Jebus – did we really need to pubic hair shot?

    Comment by Jason — September 23, 2010 @ 8:15 am

  12. What do you want to see happen?

    Comment by John — September 7, 2011 @ 8:34 am

  13. To: Johnny, Carter,& All Other Whites Offended by B.J.’ Truth–

    Deal with it because it’s the absolute truth. A portion of Johnny’s comment “These people…” says it all and well more than validates all of B.J.’ points. I am a native born life-long African American D.C. resident and former local government public official who well knows every inch of the District my hometown and its history. And, I can tell you that new whites moving into formerly predominately African American neighborhoods (middle-class to working-class / formerly low-income) naturally assume their white presence has improved the neighborhoods as if there was no community, residential and civic pride, and a way of doing things according to African Americans’ well understood culture, close-knitted communities, familiarity and friendly behavior among themselves across the board regarding different levels of education, occupations, income, and preferences. Contrary to whites’ ignorant beliefs, black people enjoy living among themselves with no need, desire, or demand that whites live among us in our neighborhoods. This is not racism, but is instead natural and true. Also, the fact is that so many African Americans in D.C. have all experienced and spoken to one another about problems they’ve experienced with whites having moved into their communities, how cold and unfriendly they are, and also how they immediately begin trying to recommend what changes or improvements black people should consider making to their homes or how they should live and entertain, as if white people have the right to dictate such to blacks or anyone else for that matter. Whites moving into D.C. neighborhoods also immediately look to find out blacks that own homes versus rent in an effort to determine those black neighbors, either elderly on fixed incomes or struggling due to unemployment, could possibly be pressed and also forced into selling via weekly harassment of some kind. I’ve heard so many stories from black homeowners about receiving white strangers knocking at their doors asking if they would be willing to sell their homes or who have received letters in the mail from whites asking to buy. Usually these inquiries come from the friends and family members of new whites that have moved into black neighborhoods. Their motive is not to get to know their black neighbors, but rather to remain isolated from them and determine ways to get them to move so that the entire neighborhood becomes white. Low-income and lesser educated blacks in D.C. have more problem with handling inconsiderate whites and harassment from police because they are not automatically used to contacting the mayor’s office and city council members about such problems. If they did do so, a lot of this would cease. African Americans such as myself and others with far more education, professional knowledge, experience, and important contacts are not at all easily harassed by new white neighbors and they know it. Thus, they prey on and create trouble for those blacks they know are less likely to take them on big time. And I’m one of them so they don’t even try it with me at least not overtly given I know the local and federal government system, officials, politicians, and laws quite well. Also, white D.C. resident newbies don’t even know the District’ history as evidenced from some of the comments on this thread. WASPs and white Jews had long begun moving out of the D.C. prior to the 1968 riots following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and most of them did so as a result of increasing numbers of existing African American D.C. residents and continuing influxes of African Americans moving into the city. Second, WASP and white Jews moved out of D.C. to Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Takoma Park, Silver Spring, Rockville, Potomac, MD, and so on given new civil rights legislation made it illegal to discriminate against blacks regarding rental housing, home purchase, home and business loans, employment, education and so on.As blacks became educated and prospered via local and federal government jobs many sought to and did buy homes in white D.C. neighborhoods. As they did so, they also challenged white racist redlining in residential real estate selection and mortgage bank lending. White Jews and WASPS not wanting to have black families as neighbors nor their children attending city schools with black children rapidly sold or rented out their homes and moved out of the District before and after ’68 riots. Yet, what most didn’t take with them were their retail, commercial and other businesses in the District for which they were of course more than happy to and had long accepted blacks as paying customers purchasing products and services. The major difference between white exodus and black exodus out of the District is racial and economic discrimination. Whites many of whom were native D.C. residents left because they didn’t want blacks as neighbors or their kids in public schools with black kids, black teachers, and most had money to buy larger homes in the suburbs. While many blacks moved to MD for larger homes, cheaper apts, and better schools, the past 13 years onward the vast majority of blacks were deliberately forced out of D.C. via being fired from government and private jobs and not rehired and stripped of small business space, among many other tactics. There is no “Post-Racial” America. It’s a complete farce of ridiculous deception white America is stupid enough to promote and expect all black people to believe when in active reality it is far from the truth. African Americans have long been and still are subjected to deliberate white racism and economic terrorism across the board in D.C., nationwide, and worldwide. Fortunately, there are millions of black people who do not lie to themselves or others about this, very well know it, and are not afraid to speak or write about it.

    Comment by DAD — December 24, 2012 @ 2:07 am

  14. B.J.–

    Great story brother. Stay strong right where you are and absolutely do not allow new white neighbors or D.C. MPD to push you around. Call D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s Office of Constituent Services, your Ward council person, and D.C. City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson who previously and likely may still have oversight over the D.C. MPD and, even if he doesn’t anymore, his office will tell you which D.C. City Council Member does. Also, fight fire of unfairness with an inferno. If your white neighbors continue harassing you and other blacks in your neighborhood, whenever your white neighbors are disturbing the peace, blocking sidewalks, alleys or whatever else, immediately call D.C. MPD, the D.C. Department of Public Works (DPW), D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) whichever one may handle the problem or just dial 311 to reach the Mayor’s / D.C. Government’ Call Center, tell them your problem and they will let you know exactly who to contact. Again, don’t allow new neighbors to bully or harass you. Kick their butts via government authorities. Also, get use to using your cell phone camera and documenting dates/times of incidents. Peace!

    Comment by DAD — December 24, 2012 @ 2:35 am

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