An apparent wannabe colonizer was willingly filmed on video trying his best to justify why he thought he had a say in trying to end something that became a tradition in a historically Black neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
The unidentified white man’s comments came against the backdrop of Black residents protesting Monday against a local store being told to stop publicly playing go-go music, which is a homegrown genre created in Washington. It was also a sign of the unabashed and alarming rate of gentrification that has seemingly worked overtime to erase the city’s Black culture.
For more than two decades, a Metro PCS store on the corner of Florida Avenue and 7th Street in the Shaw neighborhood has played go-go music from speakers outside the business. But a new resident, living in a luxury apartment in the community, reportedly complained about the music. Consequently, the company decided to bring the speakers inside the store.
In a 28-second video clip filmed Monday at the protest, the white man said he believes the loud music was “disrespectful.”
Another man, who appears to be a longtime resident, said he was angry about gentrifiers coming into the neighborhood and trying to eliminate the culture.
“I’m not trying to eliminate the culture,” the white man whitesplained. “I’m just saying playing the volume…”
He was then interrupted by the other man, who pointed out that no laws or noise ordinances have been broken.
“Many things are not illegal but that doesn’t mean it’s respectful,” the white man fires back.
Here’s a look at their exchange.
Go-go music, which is typically described as funky percussion-based instrumentation, is many times compared to a junkyard band (in fact, one of the top go-go groups is called Junk Yard Band). Protesters fear that the muting of the speakers at the mobile phone store is just a first step in an attack.
“Gentrification is cultural genocide, and this is an example of that. If people wanted to move in and respected the culture, this kind of thing wouldn’t happen,” said Kymone Freeman, one of the organizers of Monday’s protest.
Gentrification in the nation’s capital reached a grim milestone around 2011 when the Black population of the former “chocolate city” fell below 50 percent. The influx of young white millennials had changed D.C.’s racial makeup. African-American residents in the historically black Shaw-Logan Circle area plummeted from 65 percent to 29 percent between 1990 to 2010, according to census data.
An online petition to keep the store playing its go-go-music was nearing its goal of signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.
Scroll down to see some of the debate from the protest around this issue.