Some of you may not know this but I live in DC's most undesirable quadrant, SE. SE itself isn't so bad - and includes Capitol Hill, which could be considered undesirable to some - but my part of SE, Ward 8, is. When speaking to the locals of "east of the river" (as in east of the Anacostia River, a trash-filled cesspool on its own), one is referring to the area where no one but the boldest white person dares tread (that might be me). I believe the official demographic is 97% black - but I grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood of Milwaukee so racial weirdness is nothing new to me and, in fact, I prefer living among "real" people than some carefully-crafted, planned neighborhood like the one I worked in up in the Maryland suburbs up until a few months ago.
Believe it or not, it's actually been a great experience. My neighbors say good morning and we catch up on gossip at the mailbox when we can. My landlady is just a text away if I have any issues - I haven't - and dollar for dollar, I get far more in this town than most do. Not sure if you heard but DC rents are quickly approaching NYC-level craziness, and we can only blame the fact that most in DC have no idea there is a such thing as a recession. Go figure.
On the surface, Ward 8 is the run down, forgotten bastard child of thriving DC. While even the most violent parts of NE have been taken over by gentrifiers looking to rip off hipsters with theme bars and bike shops, Ward 8 remains undeveloped, cut off and ignored. According to School Board representative and activist Trayon White, unemployment in Ward 8 is the highest per capita in the entire country and I believe it.
But for some reason, Councilman Marion Barry - who most of you know as the former DC mayor busted by the FBI smoking crack on camera - continues to be reelected by his loyal constituents on this platform that he has brought jobs and prosperity to DC's armpit. He's DC's most loved politician - which doesn't say much.
The funny part is that it's been exactly 4 and a half months since the April 3rd election and his large, graphically-challenged sign is STILL blocking the "Welcome to Washington DC" sign on Southern Ave and S Capitol. I've tweeted repeatedly about this and each time I drive past it hope that maybe this time he's sent his minions out to pick it up but nope, still there. And there. And there. It really makes me wonder if the guy thinks his face is more important than a proper welcome for everyone coming down Indian Head from PG County down into DC.
Speaking of the "Welcome to Washington, DC" sign, maybe if Marion Barry really cared about his peeps in Ward 8 he'd send some money our way to fix the big ass dent in said sign? It's not classy.
Don't believe me? Here it is a few days ago:
And here it was two months ago:
And now he's harassing my mailbox asking me to join the Liberation and Transformation Movement, whatever that means. I assume he isn't handpicking these mailings and blindly assumes anyone with a Ward 8 address must automatically be on his side since they've reelected him to City Council all these years despite the whole crack thing, a small issue with paying his taxes, a propensity for riding dirty and all manner of pretty lame racist and anti-gay views that he has no problem throwing around. Way to keep everyone back in the Stone Age, there, Mayor for Life.
You've got the wrong girl, bro, I'm not buying your bullshit and know you've done little for your Ward 8 constituents. Unemployment is still up as are rents, gas and everything else you're supposed to magically be able to fix as long as the Asians stay out of our side of town. Isn't that the line?
I love Southeast and wouldn't trade the time I've spent in this part of DC for anything (like I said, at least it's real and not swollen with Midwestern bros who make up job descriptions to make their Hill coffee-fetching sound way cooler than it is) but I want no part of Marion Barry's supposed revolution. I'm willing to bet even though I got the mailing I'm not invited anyway, which sucks as I'm as much a part of our vibrant community as anyone else and respect it like the home that it is to me. But I guess that doesn't matter?
It begins thusly: "We in Ward 8, under my leadership, have made tremendous progress in providing countless job opportunities..." Oh, you lost me there, bro. Where are these jobs? Tell me. Point me to them. I'll be waiting. Most of my neighbors work somewhere but Ward 8 overall continues to struggle despite Mr Barry's leadership.
"Webster defines liberation as an act of liberating, the state of being liberated, a movement seeking equal rights and status for a group." That's really funny coming from the guy who fought gay marriage in DC, wants Asian storeowners out of his hood and uses racial slurs when referring to Polish folk. I guess I know what specific equal rights he's after.
"Liberate us from the corner grocery stores where owners take our money to Virginia and Maryland," he whines in his liberation manifesto. And where exactly does he want them to take it? Such is the nature of the DMV, money flows in and out across DC, Virginia and Maryland.
Meanwhile, he continues to say really silly things. Word is he won't be seeking reelection once his most recent term is up and that's probably a good thing since he's ancient and obviously a joke to almost everyone except those who keep electing him. I always hear "he's done great things" but very few of those saying that can tell me what, exactly, those great things are. Oh well. Fight the power, Marion! AND COME GET YOUR FUCKING UGLY SIGN!