Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Properly Valued

There is so much I could say, but in short, I left a meeting last Friday with community leaders, the Peacoholics and officials from DCHD and DCRA absolutely disgusted.

If the scenario where a building that once belonged to an associate of Marion Barry's is purchased at a steep discount with government funds by a non-profit group with ties to the mayor with the aim to make it a facility for ex-offender youth within a few feet of a home for battered women and children and down the street from a homeless shelter is not cronyism and extremely poor government planning, then I don't know what is.

DCRA continues to insist that is is simply and apartment building and that the use of it is incidental.

DCHD implies that opposing the facility or taking any legal action is tantamount to hurting the disadvantaged children of DC since such things would inhibit their ability to implement programs.

While they attempted a new charm offensive during the meeting ('You could be on an advisory board for the new facility.'), supporters of the Peacoholics followed us for over an hour once the meeting was over.

We fear for our safety, our neighborhood and our investment in that neighborhood.

There is so much wrong with the entire scenario, but here is one thing that struck me: the continued implications and outright accusations that we are wrong for wanting to protect our own interests.

One of my neighbors spoke at length about how she has worked hard and now feels that she is being penalized. Had she messed up, the government might be more willing to help her. I feel her. We are not rich folks preying on a poor neighborhood as some would like to think and we are not disadvantaged youth either. Being neither, we matter little.

I thought about that the next day when I read this is in Kim McLarin's book review of a novel by a African American author-

"[the author's] central focus seems to be the tension between racial solidarity and naked individualism, between loyalty to race and family and loyalty strictly to one's self."

My neighbors and I have been branded disloyal and even told we are "thinking white" because we oppose a group home for ex-offenders and because we have dared to utter the words "property value." (Although many of the renters on our street also feel the same way.)

Everyone in this scenario from the Peacoholics to DCRA to DCHD has gone for theirs and is protecting their own interests and we intend to do the same. I think with the exception of one homeowner present, everyone sitting at the table was African American. There is nothing disloyal about protesting an injustice, even if it brings you into conflict with people who look just like you.

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