Is Race a Factor in Georgetowners' Dislike of Wisconsin Avenue Stores?
Washington City Paper blogger, Lydia DePillis, claims race implications are obvious in Georgetowners' views of several small businesses on Wisconsin Ave.
At a meeting to discuss the future of Wisconsin Avenue Tuesday, Council member Jack Evans joked with audience members about the suit shops on Wisconsin, asking "who buys a $15 suit?"
Lydia DePillis, the Housing Complex blogger for the Washington City Paper, says Evans' comment demonstrates the racial implications of the efforts to revitalize the center part of Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown.
"Wealthy white Georgetowners don’t shop at those stores—where suits go for $99, not $15—and they think they don’t contribute to the neighborhood," she writes.
DePillis suggests that these stores are remnants of Georgetown's Black community.
She is not alone in noting the inconsistency in Georgetowners' demand for local retail and their distaste for these small shops.
"If you run around in Georgetown everybody is griping about the middle of Wisconsin Ave. They're all local retailers," said EastBanc, Inc. developer Anthony Lanier in an interview with Patch in 2010.
Georgetown Metropolitan blogger and the moderator of the event Tuesday, Topher Mathews, took issue with DePilis's implications in a comment he left on her post.
Though the stores are remnamts of a bygone time, he writes, they belong to the 1970s, he writes, not the 1950s when there was still a Black community in Georgetown.
"These stores and buildings are owned by immigrant families that came here in the 1970s mostly. They weren't around when the Georgetown Black community was still thriving and they aren't really related to that population," writes Mathews.
Since Mathew's comment, DePillis corrected her post to note the incorrect time period, but she continues to assert that race is a factor.
Mathews said he is open to discussing the possible racial undertones of the general discontent for the various clothing stores in the middle of Wiscosin Avenue, but said there were more questions to ask than just that.
"Do people dislike these stores because they're tacky, run down, and don't sell anything they want, or because the people that do patronize them are from a different race or SES? I can't say. It's something worth talking about," he wrote.