Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Chocolate City Loses Flavor
What my old political science professors, a wide selection of conspiracy theorists, and brothers on the street have been predicting for years has finally come to pass: The Chocolate City has officially given way to Vanilla. The latest demographic figures came out in today's Washington Post: "Some of the most dramatic shifts are taking place in the District, where African Americans are no longer a majority among homeowners. In 2000, 54 percent of D.C. homeowners were black, and 41 percent were white. But a decline of 6,000 black homeowners since then, and a surge of 7,000 additional white homeowners, brought the two groups to virtual parity in the 2005 survey. The decline in black homeowners in the District was offset by growth in the suburbs." (SOURCE)
A threshold has been crossed in a city full of racial and political symbolism. Those who heeded my call to invest in black D.C. neighborhoods back in 2001 are now sitting on hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equity in a much paler city. So what does this mean for the future? Just this past Sunday, I was sitting in my teeny backyard overlooking the alley, enjoying the gorgeous fall weather, flipping through the Sunday New York Times when a young black couple came to the open house on the block and wandered outside. Neither of them looked particularly impressed. For a minute it looked as though the husband looked kinda hopeful, then he sighed and then gave a helpless shrug. The pricetag for the Victorian row house was 9 times what the former owners had paid for it in 1999 as a shell. Part of me wanted to befriend the couple, chat them up, tell them how great the block is, invite them to join the Big Daddy Running Club, tell them how our block has evolved into a diverse and friendly village, but one that will soon be running low on Chocolate...But the other part of me had an attack of moral conscience. These are my peeps. How could I advocate spending that kind of money on a block where you can still catch a bullet? I smiled, said hello, then went back to reading the newspaper.