Washington, D.C. is beautiful.
It’s strange to be in back in a city after being absent for a few months. Everything is familiar, but in a slightly disjunctive way. Last time, I was speeding past the empty gardens along the Red Line during the winter, but in May, the gardens are lush, flowering, and full of bushes and branches that obscure my view of D.C.’s street paintings and more.
I’m highly conscious of how I don’t belong — like how I tried to start an actual conversation with my Uber driver from the airport, mentioning the great warm, humid weather and the terrible on-ramp design off National (seriously, who thought one lane from the airport to the city was a good idea?) before remembering, oh, yes, this is the East Coast, people don’t talk here.
I’m aware of how my presence here is an individual contribution to the mass displacing of low-income residents out of the city. I’m aware that I’m in a city where gentrifiers — a group I belong to — have tried to silence the music and treated one of the country’s most historic Black institutions as a local park.
What should I do? How can one take individual responsibility for what is, by definition, a society-wide phenomenon? What are the realities of accepting and acknowledging that effects from my actions belong with a group of other’s?
I’ll let you know if I ever figure it out. Until then… time to ride the Metro. Again.