Thursday, June 2, 2011

Redistricting: Thoughts on Moving to Ward 8

Ms. Anderson shares her thoughts on the prospect of moving to Ward 8 as part of redistricting.

Here are my thoughts on redistricting. Currently I am in Ward 7. I live at Marbury Plaza. I think it is a done deal that I will be in Ward 8. I am not particularly happy about it but I am not devastated. When I moved here in 2001, I was in Ward 6. I remember asking people who in the heck was Sharon Ambrose. Not once during the time I was in Ward 6 did I ever see this woman at any event I attended. I was happy when we were moved to Ward 7. I will not believe the rumor that CM Alexander has promised to keep Marbury Plaza in Ward 7 until and if it happens.

Right now Ward 8 is the poorest ward in the city. This dubious honor has resulted in the ward being overlooked in terms of economic development. However, this is due to change. There are several major economic development projects slated for the ward that (in my opinion) will radically change the make-up of the ward (racial and economic). It may take ten years to see some of the changes but they will happen. We have already seen some of the changes along Martin Luther King, Junior Avenue. If this is going to be my ward then I want my voice heard regarding these projects as well as the areas that will be impacted by the development, such as affordable housing, education, transportation and city services.

I know there are a lot of people who do not want to be in Ward 8 (including many of my neighbors) and they tend to portray Ward 8 as totally impoverished. Just as we know Ward 7 has pockets (quite a few) of areas where people earn a decent living and take care of property (either their own or somebody else’s), there are good folks in Ward 8 also. Not every resident of Ward 8 is a thug, baby maker, ingrate or idiot. We must stand up for Ward 8. Perhaps we need to shout just a little louder to be heard.

I find the dialogue around redistricting quite interesting. Many of the comments (both on the listserv and in articles) have been well thought out positions. Others have been just down right stupid, racist, classist and elitist. I ride the 92 bus every day to and from work. As such I travel up and down 8th Street. Many of the white residents who board the bus are cool. They get on, pay their fares, grab a seat (or more likely carve out a space to stand). Others are hostile, condescending and seem to have issues with people who do not look like them. Mind you they know nothing about the Black people on the bus – who works and where, who doesn’t, who earns a really good salary versus those just struggling to get by, who graduated college versus riders who may be illiterate. In their minds we are all “them” that live across the river and not worthy of being in their space. Therefore, I was not surprised at some of the comments coming out of Ward 6. I had to laugh when one guy wrote this negative piece about Anacostia and then concluded he hopes we can all get along in the future. He painted all of the folks in Anacostia with a broad brush and then he thinks we are going to fall into his arms and sing Oh Happy Days. The comments made by some of the Ward 6 residents last night at the roundtable did nothing to dispel my belief that the bottom line for most of this is race.

Redistricting in DC is no different than congressional redistricting – it can be a highly political and often times a nasty affair. Gerrymandering rears its ugly head to maintain the status quo. If I could control redistricting I would extend Ward 8 across the river and take more of Ward 6 and put it in Ward 7. I would not allow Ward 2 to toss aside the Shaw area, keeping the ward more white and affluent.

I am sitting here laughing because we have AIN’T seen nothing yet – wait until the process starts to create the ANC areas.

I am already making plans for the summer. I know very little about Ward 8. I am familiar with the area around the big chair. I have been to other parts of the ward attending meetings but I did not stay long enough to take in the surroundings. When my sister and I relocated here in 2001 we visited some of the apartment complexes in Ward 8 and did not care for them. If Ward 8 is my new home I need to know more about it. So this summer I plan to hop on buses and ride through Ward 8 and take in the land. I plan to actually get off the bus and visit some areas. If any of my driving friends care to cruise through the ward I am game. I also plan to do some research on neighborhoods, civic organizations, and economic development projects. It is what is and I intend to make the best of it. Can it be any worst then when I was in Ward 6 and NEVER met the councilmember of get adequate responses to inquiries? I have met CM Barry on numerous occasions and I can at least say Mr. Barry is approachable.

Delores Anderson

2 comments:

  1. Ms. Anderson,
    Your article was very well put. I go by the saying (well in this case anyway) that its all about perspective. People fear what they don't know, and in some cases people would rather remain in their ignorance about other people rather than to gain actual knowledge about others that don't look like them. With that being said, I believe that there are problems to every Ward in this city, it's just that there is a perception that Wards 7 & 8 are the "epitome of evil" to those who have never ventured over here nor plan to do so. Wards 7 & 8 have alot of green spaces, different housing stock options, community/recreational centers, urban gardens, much more space than west of the river, yet these two wards continue to get a negative rap. Yes, there is crime, blight, liter and drugs here, but there's also the same negative element west of the river as well. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, especially when there's crime taking place in their ward in broad daylight. However, this negative energy about the whole "re-districting" of neighborhoods is just an eye-opener of how those from other wards feel about and perceive the East of the River Communities-which doesn't make it right, but it's displaying the true colors of these people. Not all of them are like this, but the ones that harbor this type of prejudice have basically exposed themselves, and sometimes it can be so overwhelming that it will become "contagious" and rub off on others. I've been there. However, I commend you to resisting any negativity about your prospective Ward and to find out more about your community. I also hope that you become and advocate to speak up for your community in a positive manner. Thank you for your insight concerning the meeting, I wasn't able to make it, I really wasn't aware of it taking place, but I am also glad that I wasn't their, because I tend to get so passionate about my community that words start to fly. I thank you once again.

    Charmaine
    W7C

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  2. Ms. Anderson,

    Can you provide a link to the article you mention here ("I had to laugh when one guy wrote this negative piece about Anacostia and then concluded he hopes we can all get along in the future.")?

    I'd like to see who wrote that and what the whole article said.

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