Together We Stand
Mar 10, 2013

Understanding the power of the company you keep

As DC becomes ever more gentrified, it will be harder and harder for me to explain to younger generations what kind of environment nurtured me in my youth. Chocolate City, baby. The Nation's Capital of the 70s and 80s, for middle- and upper-class Black families, was probably as close to Utopia as most of our ancestors had ever seen. Even if you weren't engulfed in the system, you reaped some tangential benefit from living in its shadow. Top-notch educational institutions. The seat of American government and, for many, lifetime employment. Home ownership. Elected officials from the community. And a deep-abiding sense of cultural awareness. I mean, where else in the world could you have found an ex-con named Petey Greene who had a weekly talk show where he could chastise niggers for being scared of eating watermelon in front of their white friends? Locally-produced network television, mind you. And today, he has a post office named in his honor.

I am well-aware that DC--like so many other predominately-Black cities of its era--also choked under the weight of its contradictions. Drugs and poverty. Violent crime. Corruption and selfishness. And intra-racism and classism. The individual stories or legacies remind us that so much more could have been done if a sociopolitical agenda had been crafted that made room for everyone. My mother was a 5th grade public school teacher in Anacostia, who would come home at night and cry over her students' homework because they were so far behind grade level. And in that same moment, she and my father invested in private school education for me, trying to push me far enough in front of the pack that my success could be measured by a different standard.

Philadelphia now stands on the same precipice. Our town isn't as chocolate as Chocolate City once was, but with majority Black leadership in elected office; a majority Black public school system on the verge of dissolution; one of the nation's highest rates of poverty, unemployment, and poor health of any major metropolitan area, it is absolutely time to put up or shut up. To find solutions or fade from view entirely. Change has to be made in the now, or the next generation will collapse under the weight of its own perceived inadequacy. Radical, life-affirming revolution is upon us, WURD Family. We've got to mine the treasures of Black intellect and combine it with the might of the Black fist. Once, and for all.

Here is last week's playlist: