HuffPost, April 14th, 2019: Fight to save Black culture in gentrifying D.C. continues after Go-Go victory
Many people in Washington, D.C., are celebrating a recent successful effort to bring the sounds of go-go, a genre of music rooted in black culture, back to a city intersection. Meanwhile, efforts to protect black culture in a gentrified D.C. continue.
Members of the D.C. community have said this week that they are hoping to build off the momentum of a viral online petition to protect the city’s indigenous go-go music, which combines elements of funk, hip-hop, soul and other styles.
Community activist and author Ronald Moten and Howard University assistant professor Natalie Hopkinson created the Change.org petition last week, after the owner of a Metro PCS storefront was reportedly instructed to stop playing go-go music outside his store.
Although the music has since returned to the intersection of Georgia and Florida avenues in the Shaw neighborhood — known for decades as a hub for the sounds of go-go — Moten and Hopkinson shared an update to the campaign on Friday, noting their ideas for next steps to “empower black businesses and youth and protect black culture,” the petition read.
Their newly revised online campaign includes efforts to document black cultural businesses in D.C., create forums to bring together new and longtime city residents and fundraising efforts toward a digital streaming platform showcasing go-go music.
The initial petition came about after Donald Campbell, the owner of a Metro PCS vendor known as Central Communications, said he was directed by higher-ups at T-Mobile, which acquired Metro PCS, to stop playing go-go music outdoors about a month ago, according to local news outlet DCist. Campbell told the publication that T-Mobile had reportedly received a noise complaint from a resident of a nearby luxury apartment complex.
But Hopkinson, a D.C. resident and author of “Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City,” told HuffPost that the noise complaint in question is just one example of a larger issue.
“As somebody who lives in the neighborhood, I know that this is a daily occurrence,” she said. “These sort of aggressions, these sort of tensions, are a daily, everyday occurrence.”
She continued: “You’re faced with something that’s different — or maybe you don’t understand — the instinct is to just to try to get rid of them, erase them, and move on and continue to march toward whatever D.C. it is that you envisioned in your mind that doesn’t seem to involve black people or black businesses.”
Last month, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition released a study identifying Washington, D.C., as having the highest percentage of gentrifying neighborhoods in the U.S. between 2000 and 2013, with 20,000 black residents displaced.