Dog walking at Howard, attempt to mute Go-Go music emphasize the struggle.
They’re trying to make Chocolate City vanilla.
The privilege that fuels some white people’s motivation to bogart their way into black spaces has reached a new level in a city that was nicknamed for the complexion of its residents.
Howard University has called D.C. it’s home since it was founded in 1867.
But according to Sean Grubbs-Robishaw, a white man that resides near the school, Howard should just move their campus if they don’t want random people walking through their yard, as some white people have decided that the historically black campus is the perfect place to let their dogs use the bathroom.
For the last few weeks, Howard has been in the news dealing with these issues as gentrifiers have tried to turn Howard into a dog park.
They don’t realize that HBCUs have yards, while predominantly white institutions simply have campuses.
Campus is where you go to school.
The yard is your home.
“That yard is a place where we hang out, lay down and spread a blanket out with a book. We should never have to share our space with dog pee and dog poop,” said Michelle Carthen to the Shadow League. Carthen is a D.C. native, who received her Bachelor’s 1990 and MBA from Howard in 2001. And as you can guess, she’s not too pleased with what’s taken place at her alma mater.
“I don’t like to do the race thing, but for any individual to believe that they can come to Howard University, The Mecca, and try to change what it is just because they’re here now, is very disrespectful,” she explained.
On April 19, Howard’s president, Wayne A. I. Frederick, issued a response to the situation in which he mentioned taking action to make sure Howard’s sacred yard will remain “pristine and symbolic.”
This isn’t the first time that Howard has dealt with something like this. In 2017, two white girls from Union City High School in Pennsylvania showed up on campus in Make America Great Again hats and Donald Trump t-shirts and decided to snap some photos only a week after Charlottesville happened.
A Howard student reportedly snatched one of the MAGA hats off one of the girls’ heads.
“I think that’s what’s happening in the local situation with the dogs on campus, or the MAGA hats from a few years ago, are part of a broader kind of awakening of our students and who they are and what they believe what Howard is, and what DC is,” Howard’s Assistant Professor of Political Science Dr. Keneshia Grant told the Shadow League.
What’s happening at Howard is just another example of what’s happening to D.C., as gentrifiers are steadily trying to disrespect the university and erase the city’s culture.
The best example of this is taking place less than a mile away from the campus as gentrifiers complained about the Go-Go music that’s been blasted for decades outside of a Metro PCS vendor on the corner of Seventh Street and Florida Avenue NW.
Complaining about loud Go-Go music in D.C. is as insane as getting irritated by hearing jazz or Bounce music while sightseeing in New Orleans.
After being temporarily silenced, the music returned as natives threw Go-Gos in the middle of the street in protest.
“I’ve looked into this issue myself and the music should NOT stop in D.C.! @TMobile and @MetroByTMobile are proud to be part of the Shaw community – the music will go on and our dealer will work with the neighbors to compromise volume,” wrote T-Mobile CEO John Legere on Twitter.
In January, the D.C. Council resumed its mission to cut down on noise in the city, which was targeted at the black and brown street musicians that D.C. has always been known for.
From private campuses to public streets, to franchised businesses, and even in local neighborhoods, gentrifiers are doing everything they can to whitewash Chocolate City.
“There seems to be a sense of it only going one way, and that’s their way. And those are the individuals moving into the city,” Carthen explained. “On the other hand, I also look at it as an opportunity for two cultures to come together and speak more in the space of diversity and inclusion.”
“There’s an opportunity to educate white people on what D.C. is and what it was. And there’s also an opportunity for white people to say, ‘Here is what we can also do and add to, without taking away from who you are.”
Cities like D.C., Detroit, Oakland, Chicago, and even places like Brooklyn and Harlem are experiencing situations like this at a rapid pace, as black people are getting pushed out of their neighborhoods, while gentrifiers are continuously looking to enjoy the perks of these areas, but only on their terms.
America loves our culture, but not us.
Despite what took place at Howard, as of last week, it seems like the message that the school sent to their new neighbors was received loud and clear.
“Today, it feels great. It feels like it’s supposed to feel,” said Grant about the vibe on campus. “People are hanging out and sitting on blankets and chilling. I think that is in part in reaction to the things that have been going on. And I believe that people who might not have hung out on the yard are participating in that sacred space this week in ways that they might not have done.”
If gentrification can happen in a place named Chocolate City, then it means that no place is safe.
D.C. has been one of the more prominent examples of how negatively gentrification can impact communities of color, but the city has also shown us how to fight back.
From white flight to gentrification, white people have tried to get rid of us for a long time. Which is why it feels so good to see students and residents in D.C. take a stand.
Sooner or later, gentrifiers in the nation’s capital will learn that chocolate is very hard to remove.