In November, I moved from Wedgwood to Mount Baker, city-side near Massachusetts Ave. I moved for many reasons—to be closer to work and in a more urban setting, near better transit options and with great walkability, and, yes, for a more diverse experience. Among other things, I wanted to live somewhere where everyone did not look or live like me—and to be stretched and enriched by these new relationships. My husband and I focused our home search mostly in the Central District, and by chance, landed further south. Everywhere we looked was in the midst of neighborhood gentrification—which raised many questions for us including whether we would we be making life harder for the neighbors we would chose to live among? And what was our individual responsibility in these larger demographic shifts?
As the inner city development boom shows no sign of lagging, the issues of gentrification in the Central District are on the minds of many. Writer Naomi Ishisaka wrote “Saving the Soul of the Central District” in this month’s issue, looking into the current community and city efforts to preserve “Africatown” in the area along 23rd and MLK between Union and Jackson. It’s clear much is being lost as African-American and African immigrants and their businesses are priced out of the neighborhood. Protecting what makes the area unique is a murkier enterprise.
Only a couple weeks ago, local hip-hop artist Draze debuted his song and video “The Hood Ain’t The Same” during an event at EMP. It’s a pointed and moving lament about gentrification in the C.D., where he was born. It’s long on loss but makes no prescriptions.