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Baker on Being an Endangered Species

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Baker - 400

“I’m 76-years-old. I was born in this neighborhood and lived here all of my life. I’ve seen a lot of changes on H Street, some for the better and some for the worse. But, I have lived with them. I just go with the flow because I know I can’t do nothing about it.

“In my days, I’ve seen a lot of good changes, but a lot of wrong changes too, especially now. I’ve seen people forced out of their homes so others can move in. Since they rebuilt H Street, we basically lost our rights and now we have to fight for them. And why? We grew up here. Basically, everybody here is struggling, except the owners of those establishments on H Street.

If I am out here at night as a black man, I am like an endangered species. It don’t bother me, but that is the change that I see.

“These clubs, restaurants, and places for carry out, they don’t help the neighborhood at all. They should have opened restaurants where anyone can enter, a place that fits the old and the new. But, it’s not like that, we can’t afford these places. You know what I’m saying?

“And, the police are coming around all of the time now that these places are here and harassing us. We ain’t doing nothing but hanging out, been doing that for 30-40 years with no problems. We around every day, some of us work and some of us don’t, but we don’t bother nobody.

“At night time, the streets are flooded with nothing but white people. I guess we get our time during the day and they get their time at night, except that we get harassed during the day by the police, too. At night, I go in the house and let them enjoy the street. If I am out here at night as a black man, I am like an endangered species. It don’t bother me, but that is the change that I see.”

Read more about the development of H Street NE here.

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Topics: All Stories,Atlas District,NE,Neighborhoods — Tags: admin @ 9:00 am

2 Comments »

  1. wow! the sentiments of many dc residents, or african american residents…it almost feels uncomfortable reading it even though it’s true!!

    Comment by kia — August 2, 2011 @ 3:58 pm

  2. i’ve lived on the north side of the H street corridor for 3 years now. I rented a house on the 1300 block of Florida Ave NE for 2 years and recently bought a home on the 800 block of florida. In both of these locations, i’ve been among the only “white persons” on my block.

    Having lived in Foggy Bottom for 4 years before that, I can say that the H street area has more of a sense of community then anywhere else I have ever lived in my life. It is very mixed ethnically, and racially and everyone, white or black, says hello to eachother in passing on the streets.

    while I understand the fears of gentrification, I do not agree with the sentiments expressed by Baker. I feel that development in the area has successfully blended the new and the old. Most of the new restaurants and bars are reasonably priced and can be enjoyed by all.

    Recent grants given to existing businesses by the Gray Administration (to Stans clothing, cat walk boutique etc) ensure that older businesses can remain a force in the neighborhood. “White people” are not the only ones who stand to gain economically. Almost every business on the street offers local residents a discount and many hire locally (star and shamrock, atlas vet etc).

    Everyone I have talked to expresses their joy and satisfaction in the fact that the area has become safer and more walkable. Crime in the area has decreased significantly (compared to adams morgan, columbia heights etc.)

    I love H street and hope that it keeps its character and remains a friendly place to new and old residents.

    Comment by Daniel Schwartz — January 19, 2012 @ 10:32 am

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