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.
I’ve been listening to the go-go outside of this store since I was a student at Banneker HS in the early 2000s. How dare they move into their luxury building and try to sue people who have been here doing the same thing for decades? Gentrification at its finest. #DontMuteDC— Kara Danielle (@KaraDanielleDC) April 8, 2019
(1/3) I talked to activist and radio host @guerillartist, who was kind enough to share his insights on the meaning of Go-Go music to the black community in DC, the rapid gentrification its experiencing and the political forces behind the push to shut down the local gem pic.twitter.com/5dQ81ZYyAL— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) April 9, 2019
Notallofus. This older white lady moved to U in 2009. When my new husband wants to close the windows on weekend nights, I inform him that the noise and music are how we know we live in the city. (Of course we are asleep by midnight....)— Naomi Paiss (@NaomiPaiss) April 8, 2019
I wish gentrifiers would get over themselves. Nobody wants you and your lack of cultural sensibility. https://t.co/oLtH4U12RH— Brittney Cooper (@ProfessorCrunk) April 8, 2019
Just left Georgia Avenue and there was no Go-Go playing (due to new resident complaints) but there was a lot of other loud music coming from shops with mostly white patrons. This is the quiet violence of gentrification. #DontMuteDC— Renee Scott (@_nishawn) April 7, 2019
“Without go-go...Washington loses part of its soul and continues its steady march toward becoming richer, whiter—less funktified.” #DontMuteDC Ronald Moten: Don't Mute DC's Go-Go Music and Culture - Sign the petition! https://t.co/OYULNNj0YM via @Change— Sasha CooperMorrison (@sashirpcv) April 8, 2019
CULTURE CLASH: Protesters are demanding the Shaw Metro PCS be allowed to bring its outdoor Go-Go music back after @TMobile reportedly reacted to a neighbor's threat to sue. More at 10 & 11. @fox5dc pic.twitter.com/dssuTXeX1w— Evan Lambert (@EvanLambertTV) April 9, 2019
Here’s a video I made near the Metro PCS store @ 7th & Florida NW with the DC go-go crankin back in May 2018. A resident of the Shay luxury apartments that opened in 2015 threatened the store w/ a lawsuit, although it had been airing go-go since 95. Now the go-go is stopped pic.twitter.com/TWWxtCaW3w— Steve Kiviat (@SteveKiviat) April 9, 2019
A couple years ago, The Shay had a giant billboard with a blonde, blue-eyed woman’s face and the slogan “She has arrived.” She was literally staring down at the Black folks at the the bus stop. Trying to find the pic I took. #DontMuteDC— Carimah Townes (@CarimahWheat) April 9, 2019