Howard University And The New Colonizer Mindset

Gentrification is a real socio-economic concern, but the colonizer wants what it wants no matter what.

Ever since the blockbuster movie Black Panther dropped, black folks have found a new, but actually quite old, term to use when describing aggressive cultural encroachment by non-black folks.

Though every major European and Asian nation has engaged in the practice of colonization throughout history, these days it’s used to described privileged and cantankerous white people who come into black spaces and immediately try to change things to suit their liking.

Five years ago, Spike Lee almost had a conniption when “newly-Brooklynized” white residents complained and called the police on his father and friends, who had something of a tradition of having drum circles and acoustic jam sessions in the neighborhood.

Lee’s father brought his home in 1968, yet it took until white folks complained about the police to be called. Nobody appeared to have a problem for nearly 40 years prior.

In Washington D.C., the onslaught of gentrification is accelerating at a pace not seen since Harlem in the late 90s.

Recently, there was great consternation from D.C.’s black folk regarding complaints about a local Metro PCS playing go-go music over the store speakers. Go-Go, a derived from funk and disco with elements of R&B and percussion, is an utterly Chocolate City creation and phenomenon.

It’s literally the sound of D.C. The store owner had to bring his speakers in the store after two decades because a nearby resident threatened him with a lawsuit. After public outcry, the store owner was allowed to keep playing his music.

The prior to instances of colonization are relatively mild when compared to this next instance.

Like most HBCUs, The Yard at Howard University is iconic and imbued with great history and pride. A literal Shangri-La of black thought of all kinds.

As the population of the area surrounding the campus continues to change, it is inevitable that cultures clash. But what this colonizer said is just downright disrespectful and indicative of the greater issue of white privilege in America.

It’s privilege that made some people feel they can move into black neighborhoods and change things around to suit them. Increasingly, the comforting green lawns, pebbled pathways, and soothing shade trees are being colonized by local white residents, who walk their dogs and picnic on campus.

Meanwhile, black people are traditionally accosted by campus security at predominantly white institutions even when they’re students. Yet Howard University is supposed to just be cool with this desecration? There was even #wearenotapark hashtag started by students who were sick of the mostly white, non-students treating their campus as a playground.

Imagine enjoying the facilities that your tuition is paying for, but you can’t even walk on or, God forbid, sit in the grass for fear of sitting on dog sh*t? Who wouldn’t be pissed?

However, the colonizers are now crying foul based on this letter written by a reader of the Popville after being checked by students while walking her dog on campus; “bad experience”

The person, who described herself as a five-year resident, wrote “a group of students started screaming at us that dogs weren’t welcome on campus. One girl yelled, ‘This is a closed campus, I’m going to call the cops on you.’ The students continued to scream at us and follow us for around five minutes.” The letter goes on to ask: “Is there a policy against dogs at Howard?”

Currently, Howard is an open campus, meaning anyone can walk through it. Though there were residents that sympathized with the plight of the students as far as campus integrity and the need to preserve them are concerned, the privileged mindset always rears its ugly head.

“They’re in a part of D.C. so they have to work within D.C.,” a white Bloomingdale resident told Fox 5 reporter Tisha Lewis. “If they don’t want to be within D.C., then move the campus.”

That “resident” should’ve had that same energy when he decided to live around black folk. How do you respond to legitimate cultural concerns of black folks regarding an institution of historic importance by telling them to leave? When you’re a colonizer, empathy largely goes out the door.

Imagine “Chocolate City” without Howard University? Might as well have a D.C. without black people.

Oh yeah, we’re well on our way towards that inevitability as well.

Back to top