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The HIVE, and The HIVE 2.0 in Anacostia
Why do I do it?
Because I know that for every positive tweet, article, and testimonial out there about the good things in the neighborhoods of Ward 8 (that includes Anacostia, Congress Heights, Bellevue, and the half dozen other neighborhoods of Ward 8) there are way more negative things floating around out there. I decided to find out from the people who were putting them out there where they based their negative perceptions on. Was it first-hand experience? Was it speculation? Was it just a joke gone a little too far?
What did I find out?
This is purely anecdotal in nature so don't ask me for hard numbers (but I'm sure someone can put them together) but about 99% of the people I have followed up with about their negative tweets about Anacostia have either 1) never been to the Anacostia neighborhood at all (or at least lately) 2) didn't know where the neighborhood of Anacostia was located. It seems that all the knowledge they had on "Anacostia" or "Southeast DC" in general was from other people or news reports. Not exactly reliable or based in fact. I don't think these people are "bad" I just think they are uninformed and the years of negative media stories (more often than not overblown and sometimes not even geographically correct) played a part in shaping these perceptions.
Please Note: All of these photos were taken IN Anacostia
With that in mind I invite my readers to take a moment every now and again to do a search of their own and try and reach out (respectfully of course) to those who opt to use our Ward 8 neighborhoods as the butt of some joke. I try to take a moment to educate them on the reality of our communities, while not perfect, there are good things here, there are good people here, and even more good things to come. The time of "Southeast DC" being a euphemism for "crime and evil" is long past. It's almost as baseless as those who still think "Anacostia" is the name of everything east of the Anacostia river. It's long past the time of using stereotypes as some basis in fact, particularly when we are talking about communities that are predominantly black. It's too easy to equate that type of geographic bias to racial stereotypes. It is literally and figuratively time to broaden our horizons.
Take a moment. Make a change.
I've said it once, and I will say it again. We have a long way to go as a city when this type of behavior is acceptable - either from people from outside or inside of the community. We need to reevaluate the message that we are sending and the message that is being received and distributed. Imagine the response if "Anacostia" and Southeast" was replaced with a different neighborhood name like "Georgetown" or "Dupont Circle" or the quadrant of Northwest. People would be fit to be tied.
Including some Twitter searches I did recently on "Anacostia" and "Southeast DC." We've made some progress but it is clear there is still a very long way to go -- let's start with a tweet and lead to a friendly and informative dialogue.
"Anacostia" Tweets (a friendly reminder that Anacostia is a small neighborhood in Ward 8)
"Southeast DC" tweets (another friendly reminder that east of the river includes NE, SE, and SW quadrants, not just SE)
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