Thanks so much to Klav for posting his response to the Paul Schwartzman article in the Post. I really wanted to mention this (Klav had mentioned his interaction w/Schwartzman to me), but I didn't want to reference a private communication. I too have spoken with Mr. Schwartzman (but not on this present article) & I feel (after having read this article) that he probably wanted to write a story about H Street that would play up the race angle regardless of whether the facts really justified such a view point. While the topics of race & class certainly hover over H Street & the surrounding neighborhoods, I can't possibly believe that anything is really as simple as Mr. Schwartzman's article makes out. We have lots of things going on within the H Street Corridor. We have issues like:
-trash (includes not only litter, but also illegal dumping)
-inappropriate conduct (public urination, public drunkenness)
-noise (amplified speech at 8th & H Street)
-public safety (muggings, harrassment)
-how to support the businesses we have
-how to attract new businesses.
I think that most residents are interested in attracting & retaining a variety of businesses for the corridor. As I've stated before, I do not believe that it is at all impossible to have in the same corridor a variety of businesses that primarily cater to different socio-economic groups.
I don't believe that the ANC is motivated by racism or classism on the fast food issue. I think this is about DCRA & enforcement of zoning regs (making & enforcing zoning rules on things like locations of fast food restaurant are within the government's historical role & are partly based on considerations like those I've listed above). Each of us may, or may not agree with the proposed changes in the zoning definitions, but obscuring the issue by pretending the divisions fall strictly along racial lines (as I feel this article largely does) is not useful. ANC 6A holds committee meetings that are open to the public & where anyone can speak up and voice opinions about the issues listed above (including zoning issues).
Mr. Schwartzman could have written a lot of other things about H Street that would not have supported his thesis here, but he chose not to do so. He chose to give us an article that barely skims the surface (because to go any deeper would expose Mr. Schwartzman's cherry-picking of the facts & quotes he uses), and relies mostly on vague quotes from an African American business owner saying he sees racial motives behind the ANC's moves (Clifton Humphries has stated that he was misquoted, or his words were taken out of context), & from a white business owner saying he likes Georgetown. Mr. Schwartzman's article is simplistic & sensationalistic. I don't think it captures what's going on here very well at all. I'm not personally offended by this piece. I just think it expresses an overly simplistic view of the situation (a stereotypical knee-jerk reaction). I would expect better work from a journalist trying to really capture the feel of what's going on on H Street.