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May 14, 2005

hot rugby weekend

Joe Tresh is a local photojournalist and bear. You could call him a "cub photographer" if you must. He takes good pictures, and took a lot of shots last week at our practices. Check out his photoblog and a short piece on our team. He took this picture below:
let's play dress-up
On Saturday we had a rugby tourney over in Aberdeen, Marlyand. The weather started out promising but got pretty hot and humid. I got to play wing in the first 40-minute match, and then did pretty well as scrumhalf in the second. We lost both matches but not by too much. While the other team placed an incredibly hot shirtless touch judge on my side of the pitch while I was playing wing, 5 years of Bene Gesserit Sisterhood training allowed me to keep my mind on the game with a little mantra taught to me by Paul "Muad'Dib" Atreides, which I converted for my own uses during matches against particularly hot opponents:

"I must not lust. Woof is the mind-killer. Lust is the little-death that brings total lack of focus. I will face my lust. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the lust has gone there will be nothing. Only the winger will remain."

Gay rugby fans are invited to our last match of the season against our guests the Philadelphia Gryphons Saturday the 21st. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at Heurich Park (driving directions, also Metro accessible from Prince George's Plaza station on the Green Line); All Renegades will be at the pitch by 11:30 a.m. for warmup. There will likely be A- and B-side matches, and Jimbo will be playing for sure. Apply sunscreen at least an hour before exposure. Social to follow at Hamburger Mary's probably around 4ish.

Friday's Margaret Cho concert at the Warner Theatre was so funny my head hurt from laughing so hard. "Cessna! CESSNA!" she screamed, making fun of the recent freakout about the harmless, hapless plane that approached DC last week. It looks like her sketch focus is about 90% gay in content, which she doesn't seem to mind. And damn she is MAD about the current creature in the White House!

My long post on local double-standards on race and real estate is linked below. It's too long to add to a typical daily entry. Read on...

Another annoying incendiary article in the Post last week about "gentrification" and "white flight," which in many circles seems to translate to "white people are bad." I'm not sure if the Post, and in many similar cases the Washington City Paper, is actually reporting what most people think or is just playing the race card as is typical for the DC region in order to sell papers. In a nutshell, everything in DC, from politics to public utilities, has to be associated with race in some way or another, and you cannot criticize the rhetoric or you'll be called a racist too. It is why Marion Barry is still in politics successfully. This area is obsessed with race. And usually the finger is pointed at white people as the source of all evil in any case where there is disagreement or conflict. One editorial in Saturday's edition of the Post agrees in my critique of local "Acceptable Bias."

The double-standard I keep coming across regarding demographic change (which always happens over time in either direction in any neighborhood) is this: when black people move into a white neighborhood and the white people complain, it is called racism. But here in the DC Metro region, when the reverse occurs and white people move into a historically black neighborhood and the blacks complain and are quite vocal about the whites "taking over," no one cries racism in the least. At least that's how the media interprets the phenomenon. I don't get it.

"It's almost like there's a hidden landscape, a hidden geography of the county that many whites don't see," said Kirsti Uunila, the county's historic preservation planner. "People who are moving in, they really don't know where they've come."

Translation: white people are dumb, insensitive, with no regard for history. But no one dares call that out around here.

The article also confuses difrerences between class and race:

"The fact is that property values and the job market largely preclude them from moving in." The average home in the county sold for $350,000 last year.

The influx of whites into Calvert also has coincided with the rise of the Republican Party in a county that for decades was a Democratic stronghold. In late 2003, when the local GOP claimed more registered voters than Democrats for the first time in recent history, the party chairman said the success was due to Prince George's politicians whose policies had driven Republicans to Calvert.

Translation: white people are all rich Republicans. Excuse me? Not quite ready to invest $350K here, and still voting Democrat. Eeew, I'm offended.

Anyone who has sold their house for four times its original value at a quarter- to half-million dollars should be laughing all the way to the bank. What you do with that profit is your business, but I fail to see any victimization in this. Try crying to me when we compare savings and checking accounts - my salary for a professional position at a university is just a hair above low income here in DC. Granted, burdensome tax rates may be insurmountable and may force people to move, and we all like to live in our "traditional" and historic areas. But what is traditional these days anyway? Does one group of people "own" a region, and no one else can move in or out of it? So should the main street area in my hometown be preserved as a "Norwegian Only" area, since the earliest residents were primarily Scandinavian? No, because people would cry racism. But we can talk about preserving our black history in Calvert County and it's not racism in this case.

I have bitched in a similar way in the past by saying the breeders have also "taken over" 17th street and that our beloved gay ghetto is gone. In reality, the queens who toughed it out in the 80s and early 90s are now also laughing all the way to the bank, having sold their homes to rich yuppies in lieu of larger properties elsewhere. And most gays know that our neighborhoods move and shift. Not quite analagous to the white/black 'hood argument, but similar. We are keenly aware that neighborhoods change over the decades. In DC the gay ground zero ghetto has moved from DuPont Circle proper, to 17th Street, and now somewhere east of 14th Street. It moves, we deal, that's life. I may have to move soon too, but I deal with it. To me the recent alarmist real estate news laced with blatantly racial tones just seems like a lot of incendiary crap that stirs the waters in order to sell papers. For example, in the editorial linked above, the writer notes that Prince George's county was once mostly white, and things there have clearly changed in the other direction.

Just my two cents on an issue that I think both the local media and African American community here needs to heed: the burden of working towards racial sensitivity does not lie solely on the shoulders of white people. It strikes me as a double-standard that is blatantly ignored in this area.

Posted by jimbo at May 14, 2005 11:09 AM

Comments

Thanks for sharing the mantra. Hopefully with enough study and dedication I'll be able to deal with similar distractions, such as that photo above.

Posted by: Chuck at May 15, 2005 1:59 PM

Aww Jimbo, you look so cute!! Clean-shaven, too! LOL. ;)

Posted by: R-R at May 15, 2005 6:54 PM

heeheeheee - love the DUNE reference :). I must memorize for my workouts while at the gym.....

Posted by: Dan at May 15, 2005 7:48 PM

It was also ignored when I lived in Charles County eighteen years ago. Change, it would seem, comes very slowly. If at all.

Posted by: Jeffrey at May 15, 2005 9:10 PM

Jim,
Instead of Scandinavian insert Irish and instead of your hometown insert Boston and it becomes a whole lot more acceptable to bemoan the loss of white ethnic identity. Swedes don't have a parade or green beer or a slightly terroristic cause.
Also when your main readership population includes areas with a higher than adverage AfAm population of course race will sell papers. Also part of being a minority is seeing the world thru the prism [of race, gender, dis/ability]. At best the article could get the AfAm populace to seriously realize that it is up to us black people to take steps to preserve our history, just as it is up to the GLBT community to preserve your history. If you want to preserve some aspects of the "gay ghetto" of Dupont, it is up to you to preserve it or not.

Posted by: Marie at May 16, 2005 8:59 AM

I wasn't really arguing the importance of preserving gay/black 'hoods and history (it IS important, but not my point), I was trying to illustrate that demographics change, and that gay people are used to it as the nonbreeding worker drones of gentrification. People move and neighborhoods change. Neighborhoods decay and revitalize...it's a lot like the compost/garden cycle actually. It's just when people scream about it I want to say, "oh puh-leez can we just deal with it?"

Posted by: jimbo at May 16, 2005 10:26 AM

The issue isn't race, it's income. Race is just more convenient, easier to identify. People with far more money are forcing out those who don't have the resources. It really is that simple. It would be the same tension if wealthier black people moved into those neighborhoods. The complaints would be kept out of the press but oh boy would they be there.

If you look at LeDroit/Brightwood, which is changing, but mostly with wealthier Howard grads replacing those who are longtime residents. Look at the Gold Coast, upper 16th Street, which has historically been very rich, and the core of DC's black upper class. They have no desire to move, and they have the wealth not to.

I get to see this every day at work, since my agency is 75% black. There are some very clear lines drawn about income/historic class, and where people live.

Posted by: copperred at May 16, 2005 12:00 PM