January 18, 2018
I\’m a native Washingtonian and I have lived in Ward 5 for nearly 30 years. I have left the D.C. area on a number of occasions but have always found my way back to Ward 5. Whether West Virginia Avenue, Meigs Place, or Owens Place – Ward 5 has always felt like home. We\’ve dealt with drugs, crime, police abuses, gentrification, neglect, being the dumping ground for all the services other wards didn\’t want to handle, lack of investment, etc. You name it and there\’s a good chance we have dealt with it in our ward.
We\’ve even dealt with graffiti. After the Presidential election in 2016, it didn\’t take long for the walls to become emblazoned with F*** Trump. That\’s Ward 5 for you. However, what was spray painted on the driveway of Shalom on Brentwood Parkway should bring a pause to all Ward 5 residents. Amidst the rapid renovation and makeover of Ward 5 let\’s take a minute to realize what this might portend. Jexit is a recently crafted slur against Jews. It mimics the term Brexit which is the combination of \”British\” and \”exit\”. This term refers to Britain removing itself from the European Union. That being the case Jexit implies just what? From that block? The city? The DMV?
Ward 5 started asking questions back in 2015 with Gentrification Never Sleeps. We even looked a little deeper in The Changing Demographics of Ward 5. But I think we said it best in \”An Open Letter to Ward 5 ANC Commissioners, Councilman McDuffie, and Mayor Bowser\”.
With all of this rushing towards some predictable end, the questions I’m left contemplating are who’s going to bridge the gap between the residents who’ve waited for generations for change in Ward 5 and the newer residents moving in to the District? Who’s drafting the neighborhood integration plan…
A neighborhood integration plan would have predicted that, left unchecked, there were going to either be new elements coming into our neighborhoods or existing elements feeling preyed upon. At some point, it was going to manifest in some form of hate speech. No one seemed to be taking time to ensure that everyone understood that diversity makes any neighborhood better. It enriches the lives of everyone. Whether these words were scribbled by a passer-by, a long-term resident, or a new arrival to the community we must come together to protect ourselves from the vermin that would espouse such nonsense. As a journalist, I am one of the first to support the First Amendment right to free speech. However, I\’m less protective of those that slink in the cover of darkness or under hoods.
If this is the path forward where we can expect racial tensions to escalate or someone is expecting long-term residents to adopt this mentality – count me out. If the ANCs, the Mayor, and our Councilman can\’t come together and start carting a path forward to deal with the changing demographics – count me out. If we can\’t prove that we\’re not the one – count me out.
If we don\’t stand up and flush this out or drive it so far underground, it never sees the light again then don\’t be surprised when \”Nexit\” shows up.