Thursday, May 29, 2008

Columbia Heights Forum Mixer Love

The Columbia Heights Forum participants organized themselves into a mixer tonight at the Wonderland. Someone said the "more controversial" members stayed away. But, those who attended exposed their handles and their faces to each other, and The Heights Life camera.

You can visit the forums on the web by clicking here.

And on an unrelated note... on the way home, we caught something you don't see every day... a bus being towed:


Anonymous said...

Since the Heights Life has its finger on the pulse of CH, I figured I would ask you. Any idea how far off Five Guys is from opening? I was looking for a quick, cheap burger for take out the other day and came up short.

Jimmy D

Anonymous said...

Wow. It's really great to see such a representative group from the community: I think I see half an ethnic face in there!

Normally I'm pretty tolerant of the crowds of white folks that dominate the CH restaurant/blog scene but, seriously, if you're going to call yourself the "the Heights Life" and "a one stop snark shop for all things Columbia Heights," dontchya think you ought to maybe interact a little with the 60% of this community who don't look like the people in this picture. They don't bite, I promise.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 8:30,

I was not at the meeting shown above, but I live in Columbia Heights. Therefore, I would like to thank you for your tolerance of groups of people of my (our?) race in Columbia Heights.

Personally, I only go out in groups of two (or fewer!) white people when in the neighborhood to keep from offending my less melanin challenged neighbors. However, as shown above, occasionally three, four or even more white people gather in one place!

Perhaps some gathering quota system should be put in place, but until it is, I hope your tolerance can be maintained as the non-biting long term residents become scarcer with the inevitable invasion of the white barbarian horde.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11:15,

I don't take issue with groups of white people gathering in Columbia Heights. I take issue with the way many white people in Columbia Heights have come to think of this neighborhood, including the two following characteristics.

(1) There are a growing number of websites, blogs and forums called "Columbia Heights ___" or "___ Columbia Heights" which are written and read nearly exclusively by white people and which completely ignore everyone else (except for the occasional complaint that the black girl at Pete's messed up someone's drink order).

(2) Those same sites have started having "mixers" which, no surprise, are dominated by white people.

In both cases, the use of "Columbia Heights" and "mixer" suggest a spirit of inclusiveness that, sincere as it may be, has not translated into inclusive social interaction. Many of us, myself included, are easily caught in this paradox - we love the diversity of CH, and yet we hang out with a pretty non-diverse crowd. While I think everyone ought to try to be a little more aware of this dynamic, I think it is an imperative fir any group branding themselves as a voice of Columbia Heights, in any sense.

I am white, and I have lived in Columbia Heights for less than two years, so I'm NOT arguing from a place of nostalgia or bitterness; rather, it simply makes me sad that, while living in a vibrant, diverse neighborhood, I see so many people - especially newcomers - put so little effort into embracing their neighbors.

Obviously, it's not just the white people -- everyone in this neighborhood tends to cluster into racial groups. However, the recent "invasion" of relatively privileged white people into this neighborhood has been facilitated, in part, by the history of neglect that was shown to this neighborhood for decades prior to the opening of the Metro stop in 1999. As in many other cases of systematic racism, I think the white people in Columbia Heights have a certain responsibility to understand the history of the area, embrace ALL members of this changing community, and consider the impact of all of these changes on the existing residents, instead of simply cheer-leading for more development and drinking with other white people at so-called "Columbia Heights mixers."

My first post was, perhaps, inappropriately sarcastic, so I appreciate your equally biting response. However,

Anonymous at 8:30

Anonymous said...

Ha... posted before I was done. Does that mean I lose the argument by default? ;)

Anyway... My first post was, perhaps, inappropriately sarcastic, so I appreciate your equally biting response. However, I think that the history and demographics of this neighborhood are such that people really need to put a lot more thought into these issues.

Cheers, again,
Anonymous at 8:30

Anonymous said...

This is Anonymous at 11:15,

I didn't think your post was inappropriate or that you lost anything. I guess for me, I have never been convinced of the abstract value of diversity nor my individual responsibility for everyone living in the vicinity of my residence.

I have also only been here for a couple of years, but from what I have heard, after the riots and prior to the present gentrification, Columbia Heights was a warehouse for poor people with rampant crime and other social ills. Much of what is good about living here, for me, and I assume others, is close proximity to work because of the Metro Stop and a neighborhood that is improving, in part, because of the growth in businesses, including restaurants that I would like to frequent. I didn't move here for diversity and I won't leave when it lessens or disappears.

I agree with you that the websites you refer to are largely written and read by more well to do whites that are new to the neighborhood. While much of the discussion is about restaurants, gentrification, etc. there is also discussion about the issues you wrote about above (see especially Prince of Petworth). I don't think the authors of these blogs or forum posts presume to speak for the whole of Columbia Heights, but are just people who live in the neighborhood with Internet access. While, very few long term residents have this access, I don't think they would be excluded from discussion if they did. So, when there is a mixer of fake Internet friends, it is not surprising, and I don't think purposefully racist, to find that most of the people there are relatively well to do whites that are new to the neighborhood.

I can only speak from personal experience, but I have not "embraced" all of my neighbors because many do not speak English and/or deal drugs and engage in other criminal behavior around where I live. I have nothing in common with them and wouldn't embrace them regardless of their race or new/old residence status. While I get along with a tiny minority of my neighbors, I certainly do not realize any duty to get along with most of them, and do not blame myself for the actions they do that I find off putting. I think their lives will be just as full and rich without knowing me and vice-versa. I also do not see why I have any particular duty to long term residents because the neighborhood was neglected for decades. Certainly, many of the Salvadorans have moved into the neighborhood since the riots. Do they have a similar duty to the longer term residents?

Again, I don't think you've lost any argument, I think we just come to the neighborhood believing and expecting very different things.

shannke said...

Actually your point was lost. The group is more diverse than most. (1) African American (CH native), (1) Egyptian (1) Bulgarian, gay and straight, and if I dug a little deeper I'm certain I'd uncover additional representations. Sorry, even if I tried I won't be able to find any native Americans so I'll save you the trouble of ranting about their exclusion from our group as well. Clearly you had a canned rant just waiting to open at the first opportunity. BTW, where are you from? I pray Columbia Heights (like myself) else your point is truly without merit.