U Street’s A-Changing

This one is pretty much only going to resonate with the DC people, but you readers in other areas may also find it funny. Either way, continue to read the blog. If you don’t get the jokes, laugh anyway, then call someone from DC and get them to explain it to you later. If you don’t know anyone from DC, my Yahoo IM is HustlemanL77…just don’t abuse it.

I was speaking with a friend of mine while having dinner on U Street a few weeks ago, and as we sat near the street at 7PM, we saw sights that would have been unfathomable at that very spot about 5 years ago. We saw a lot of…White people! With their kids!

You used to be able to count the white folks you saw out there on one hand. Now, thanks to all the new luxury condos and trendy lounges popping up in the area, white people no longer have that healthy fear of DC. Crackheads and black youth no longer make them cross to the other side of the street.

The funny thing is, the only place in the city where I’ve seen that “Oh my God this n*gger is going to rob me” instinct come in lately was on an elevator with this lady the other day. She was old, but still, it made no sense. I was wearing a suit and tie. Furthermore, we were going up, so I didn’t even have anywhere to run if I really were going to take it. I gave her the meanest look I could, knowing that it would put the fear of God in her, just for my own personal enjoyment.

I’m not 100% complaining about gentrification, because there are a few aspects of it that do make me smile. I’ve found a bunch of nice little chill spots to go to on dates, or just to chill out by myself. The latest one that I’m giving free press to is Mocha Hut on U Street. I just found out that it’s black-owned, so I’m showing some support despite the fact that I don’t really drink coffee like that. Another selling point is that the number of fine ass women that can be seen daily. If I were not the upstanding gentleman and fine pillar of the community that I am, I could be a motherf*ckin’ pimp! I choose to serve the people instead, by merely flirting, and not spreading my seed across the city, leaving behind an army of little bastard Leons running around.

To sum everything up, with the good, comes the bad and vice-versa. Poor folk and old people are being driven from the city they’ve lived in all of their lives…but it’s easier to hook up with someone hot and enjoy some coffee afterwards.

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26 Responses to “U Street’s A-Changing”

  1. Mahogany Brown 12. Jun, 2007 at 2:51 pm #

    You are horrible!!! I’m so mad at your reasons for liking gentrification lol!!! And I appreciate you not spreading your seed across the city and instead electing to just flirt. I don’t know how the women can resist though lol.

  2. kofro 12. Jun, 2007 at 3:32 pm #

    I remember, maybe three or four years ago, walking with an SO at the time past that high-end furniture and housewares store by the gator store (somewhere near there) and asking, “Who round here can afford $5000 couches and $100 plates.” I guess you sell it, and they will come.

  3. Divyne... 12. Jun, 2007 at 3:53 pm #

    I am absolutely loving some of the results of gentrification of the city. Although they may sound selfish… #1. I love the fact that the property values are going up, that means more equity on our owned properties. #2I love the chill spots you are beginning to find everywhere. Especially on U st! I can’t wait until they get to the Benning Road area. I have a condo over there right around the corner from some projects, and near that nasty Shrimp Boat. However, with the Capital Gateway Project coming up on East Capitol St. and brand new homes called Glencrest that will be built off of Benning Rd. it shouldnt be much longer before the crackies are driven out. I just saw a man that looked like White Jesus walk up my street to go to the Benning Rd. subway the other day! Yaaaaaay! Slowly but surely, a change is a coming!

  4. Mingy 12. Jun, 2007 at 4:00 pm #

    OKAY this is going on in NORTH PHILLY right now!
    Like you said, it has it pros and cons, nice little spots, they are cleaning up the area, laying down new sidewalks, new traffic lines in the streets, isht that WE didn’t get in the past 25 years. White folk move in and BAM!
    Its ticks me off because I can not afford property in my own neighborhood. Kinda isht is that?
    anyhow. LOL
    What to do… “they” are stretching “Center City” more north and call it the hip NORTHERN LIBERTIES… yeah okay! in my eyes, its still NORTH PHILLY and where are “we” suppose to go? They are raising taxes on everyone that’s been living there for generations, yet, these new residents get 15 year tax abatements. OH OKAY!
    okay I’m done my rant!

  5. Honest 12. Jun, 2007 at 6:06 pm #

    About 8 years ago I rented a house off of U Street with two other ladies and when my dad came to visit he was all up in arms to the fam that I lived in the gheeeeetooo I took him to U Street last summer so he could see the “gheeeeto” I could no longer afford to live in. Now if they can move some of that magic over to H Street NE I’ll be set.

  6. Hostess 12. Jun, 2007 at 6:25 pm #

    Another good spot (Black owned–I think) is Creme. They have good shrimp and grits.

  7. Jelani 12. Jun, 2007 at 7:01 pm #

    You aint lying bro, there are a lot hot chicks out and about here now! Just wait till Target and Best Buy get here(ColHi). Target is always good for home accents and pretty ladies.

  8. Jeremy 13. Jun, 2007 at 8:23 am #

    Thoughts from a Jewish White Guy:

    I grew up in Canarsie, Brooklyn. 40% Jewish. 40% Italian. 10% Irish. 5% Asian. 5% Other.

    Right after I moved out to CA, things started to change. African American families started moving into Canarsie. At first there was resistance. I bottle half filled with Vodka, a rag lit on fire, mysteriously found its way through the window of a local real estate office. It was an office that was showing houses to African American buyers.

    As the neighborhood began to show some color my old neighbors started to run to NJ, Long Island, and Staten Island for a safe haven. These places were considered safe, with promise of little or no diversity. The quick exit lowered the value of Canarsie real estate, or at least halted any increase that was happening everywhere else. Soon a bad element settled in, suddenly the local schools lost its reputation as one of the best in the city. Streets that were safe were now streets you were told to lock your doors and put up your windows while driving down.

    A stranger from a public forum complained about this and proclaimed “These N*G***S ruined Canarsie” I calmly responded with a message to him that explained “In 1996 when families of color started moving in, we had a very special window of great diversity. It was the fear and prejudice of the people living there, that ran away, selling their house at any price in panic, which lowered the value of the area. If you think you are mad, think about those first wave of African American families that worked their asses off to live in a better school district for the sake of there kids (I hardly think they enjoyed our bland BBQ’s that consisted only of Hot Dogs and Burgers) only to have people run like they had some kind of disease. These are the people who should be angry. Of Course his response was to call me a “N**G*R lover”.

    I just moved in to Columbia Heights and I love the diversity. I love going to Columbia Heights Coffee (Ethiopian Owned) and getting on the computer to blog. I hope the diversity remains, and that DC can be one of those few places that show all Races, Religions, and Cultures living together is what makes for a great neighborhood.

  9. Eddie Nicole 13. Jun, 2007 at 11:35 am #

    I’m all for diversity, but not when it’s moving my people out of their homes and into shelters and horrible living conditions. I know because it happened to me. You could once rent out a studio in a brownstone for no more than $700 a month, now it’s like $1050. I had to move to the Bronx temporarily, because Harlem, now called SOHA or NOHA depending on the area, got way too expensive. Now they have these programs where they offering low interest rate loans to help black folks buy property, but it’s really a scam that gets them into more debt, later down the road. All of you see white people jogging with their dogs on some of the worst blocks. They not even giving us enough time to pack!

    Gentrification is spreading like wildfire across the nation, especially Harlem.
    That’s why I moved out and into Jersey with all the Mexicans. They are cool working people and they’re fighting for affordable housing as well. And of course, they support their people to the fullest. I don’t know what’s wrong with us. I’m just happy I can get a decent meal for less than $10, and the rent is affordable. Who wants to live in what used to be the projects, with even smaller rooms, paying $900 month when you only make 30k? That’s bull shit and I ain’t fallin for it.

    Oooh, but I miss Harlem so much. Especially may favorite Bodega friends, and crackheads that give you the same compliments everyday, and 5 seconds later ask you for some change, the block parties, the IHOP on the corner of 135th and 7th. I miss all the hip styles of the Harlem kids and the old ladies with the big hats…listening to the old men on the sidewalk complaining about the white folks moving in..
    Look at Apollo, it’s so lame now. You can’t even booo anymore, it Wop! Wop! or something like that. We aint got the Sandman anymore. Now it’s some cat tap dancin! It’s all structured for the tourist, when it was supposed to be for our people. I heard the Apollo was not black owned, I’m not sure about this, but if that’s the case, the lack of realness makes sense. So it’s not just DC, it’s everywhere!

  10. GirlBlue 13. Jun, 2007 at 1:06 pm #

    Wow, Leon, some really insightful comments.

    But Ima keep it ignant

    You mean to tell me your high yella ass scaring old ladies? That’s sad, man…real sad..LMAO!

  11. Candace 13. Jun, 2007 at 4:45 pm #

    @ Honest
    H Street is next, they have already built the Rock & Roll Hotel and all those other little indie bars over that way.
    I love to see the city being cleaned up, but I do not like to see affordable housing go away.

  12. Kia 14. Jun, 2007 at 2:31 pm #

    This is going on everywhere. White folks have been moving backinto the cities since the tech boom came and went. They went to the suburbs to get away from us with color and realized that the commute aint cheap and time consuming. This so called gentrification is killing the working/middle class. The tax abatement, cool lounges and coffee spots be damned. Where will those that cannot afford the inflated rents go? I live in Harlem and see more than enough white folks on my commute home than I am comfortable with. Can’t Black people have something of our own without whitey acting like he discovered it ? Damn…

  13. reuben 15. Jun, 2007 at 9:14 am #

    i appreciate your candor concerning the “g” word… too many people soft peddle their views-whether they are secretly glad some elements of the community are changed, or acknowledging the still alive and well tension between-ah-blacks and
    whites….. more candor is needed. thanks for your contribution!

  14. Gil 15. Jun, 2007 at 11:36 am #

    Mingy..I’m assuming you are referring to Broad St?

    Eddie..Yes, it is unfair to many who have been there a long time, but I have to wonder why our own people did not take care of what they had and own more property? I ask myself this all of the time. Yes..things are changing, but should we really be mad a whites who are doing what WE should have done years ago?

  15. Bill 15. Jun, 2007 at 2:15 pm #

    “but should we really be mad a whites who are doing what WE should have done years ago?”

    Bingo. Where’s the personal responsibility?

  16. DCMovieGirl 17. Jun, 2007 at 2:24 pm #

    Hey, I’m a native Washingtonian to.

    I remember when U St. used to be the place to get crack and pick up prostitutes…But I also remember Sistaspace and Books and the non-co-opted poetry slams around there that spawned the likes of Saul Williams…

    It’s a Catch 22. The area is cleaned up, but the culture that the gentrifiers are coming for is also being lost precisely because they are there…It’s a slower-working and far less devastating Katrina, people.

    I think it’s a damn shame that it took, money and paler skin for things to get “cleaned up” around there.

    I’m not going to just cop it out to us not being able to get ourselves to together, because I remember folks doing what they could to makes things better. I just don’t think the city really listens unless there’s money to be made and/or paler skin to be seen.

    As far as I’m concerned, it may be cleaner and safer, and the in-process gentrification does make things appear to be incredibly diverse, right now…But I wonder how long it will be before the culture of U St turns into one giant suburban mall with only those DC history plaques noting the unique culture that used to be there.

  17. Gil 18. Jun, 2007 at 7:57 am #

    I agree Dcmoviegirl, I agree..I hope that doesn’t happen either, be it here, Harlem, Philly, etc.

  18. RAZE ONE 18. Jun, 2007 at 11:20 am #

    Kaffa House spot is now a Starbucks! I will never forgive those motherfuckers.

  19. Jason 20. Jun, 2007 at 8:29 am #

    Im a gay white gentrifier under 40, living in Eckington, who is happy to see gentrification of the city. A lot of people claim racism and “skin” politics, but the truth is it is the result of a more educated, informed, tolerant generation drawn to the urban village and the CAPITOL of the United States. Most white people under 40 that I know who live in the city are not RACIST. We do get offended when people are behaving in a trashy way that is demeaning to others around them. Lets also remember that racism works both ways. When I walk down the street I purposely try to say hello to everyone, and many black people just look at me like I am crazy. I have been called “fag” as I walk down the street by young black kids. Guess what though, we aren’t going away this time. We just expect some personal responsibility from everyone. All of this new tax money helps support schools that many of us DO NOT have children in, and btw we spend the most money per pupil in the country and still kids are not learning. Its time for personal responsibility. Clean up your street, your house, and your attitude, and the rest will follow.

  20. Jeremy 21. Jun, 2007 at 2:31 pm #

    Personal Responsibility is essential. But there are external causes for the problems inner city people have experienced. I think it will take a combined effort to solve the problem.

    1. Every individual must take responsibility for there actions, their life, and their children.

    2. Everyone must be sensitive to the disadvantages and challenges inner city people have faced, and understand that there was a contributor to their situation that goes well beyond personal responsibility. This is why it is so important to communicate, and be willing to listen and consider each others positions.

    “We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. And that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man. (Yes)” (Martin Luther King Jr.,”How Long, Not Long”)

  21. tihopilik 08. Jul, 2007 at 1:24 pm #


    I can’t be bothered with anything these days, but shrug. I just don’t have anything to say recently.


  22. emily 15. Feb, 2008 at 12:49 am #

    Love Cafe on U Street is also a Black-owned business…

  23. Ayo 30. Mar, 2008 at 1:42 am #

    As a prospective DC condo buyer I am generally excited about neighborhood turnabout. BUT, as one who considers herself to be an original U Streeter, I am dismayed by the drastic change that has overtaken my favorite section of Choco-City. Nothing against diversity, or White folks for that matter, but U Street now feels more like Georgetown than the heart of Black DC. It makes me feel homeless in a way. Like one of the last bastions of thriving Black DC culture, lifestyle and sociability has ebbed away. Four years ago even, U Street was like fried chicken, your Uncle Rome and gospel music on a Sunday afternoon. No more. No more. My hot joint has lost its flavor and it makes me very sad.

  24. ceramic kitchen floor tiles 08. Oct, 2009 at 1:03 pm #

    Great article! I’m amazed I didn’t hear the band last night. I really like what you’re saying about how the Annex has a ‘good mix’ of people and is always slightly changing. It not being “scene specific” is what really attracted me to the area – sometimes it’s fun to put on a ‘cool t-shirt’ and hit the Green Room’s garden-patio, other times it’s nice to leave on grubby work clothes and go relax on Kilgours’ patio. And within a 3 minute walk, I can get fresh fruit and veggies, sushi, burrito, Indian, Korean… even ‘North American’ (chicken fingers, burgers…).

  25. DIY WIndows and Doors 22. Oct, 2010 at 2:37 am #

    U Street’s A-Changing

  26. long beach water damage 06. Jan, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    I dont speak on many websites i always come across but THAT I felt I couldn’t pass by the opportunity with gas 4 free :. Nice post. I can only wonder should really be writing in the destiny.

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