Whiteness and entitlement in local development

While a large portion of my work is with clients who work internationally, I spend a significant amount of time engaging in community advocacy and local politics in Washington DC. Over the years I have learned that I can have the greatest impact on social justice by acting locally. This is especially true given the fact that I do not have much influence in my national government because I am a resident of Washington DC, which is not recognized as a state by the federal government; I therefore do not have voting representation in the United States Congress.

I write about one issue with which I became involved in this article, Who gets to decide how to preserve African American history in a gentrifying neighborhood? The article tells the story of my neighbor, Karen Smith, who I met through a heated NextDoor debate about whether the neighborhood should be officially recognized as a historic district. Karen, who is African American, is the grandchild of two of the original homeowners in the Kingman Park neighborhood where I live.

The article is obviously about race. More specifically - and perhaps less obviously - it is about whiteness, and the sense of entitlement that comes with being white. I am white and my whiteness is an issue on which I am trying to explore at a personal level on a regular basis. This article is an outcome of that reflection.

~ Lindsey

Photo courtesy of Karen Smith