Joaquin Phoenix (center) and Dr. Omekongo Dibinga march Jan. 10 against the war in Iran at a rally where notably only a few African Americans attended. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)
Joaquin Phoenix (center) and Dr. Omekongo Dibinga march Jan. 10 against the war in Iran at a rally where notably only a few African Americans attended. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)

On Jan. 10, anti-war organization CodePink hosted a nationwide protest to rally against sending U.S. troops into the Middle East. Though protesters converged on Capitol Hill in droves, there seemed to be a lack of African Americans in the crowd, begging the question: Do Blacks have the same interest in international affairs as their fellow citizens?

The nation’s capital is a melting pot of citizens, many of whom are transplants from various countries and cities. The city’s diversity includes the vast difference in socioeconomic standing, safety and lifestyle within the District. Some residents trust in the security of the current administration, while others have never truly felt protected.

“I feel pretty safe in D.C.,” said a man only identifying himself as Spencer, who formerly worked on Capitol Hill for six years. “I feel like we have a strong military. I think our foreign policy is not as it should be under our current administration, but I feel like we have a lot of bright minds working for the State Department, and I think that they’ll make the right decision inevitably.”

Other residents of varying cultures, some with strong veteran backgrounds, also express confidence in the country’s decisions.

“I personally feel pretty safe, I feel like we have a well-rounded government,” said Goseph Alvarado, who works in the District. “It’s not like just one person can say something and that’s the way it goes. We gather intelligence and based on what we have gathered, we consider how large the threat may be and whether we should take action on it or not. Us not taking action against a real threat, really ends up us placing ourselves once again, against like a 9/11 situation.”

Numerous D.C. natives have quite a different perspective than Alvarado’s, however. Many residents live just miles from Capitol Hill, but weather violent circumstances on a daily basis in their neighborhoods. The city saw six murders in just the first six days of the new year.

Northeast resident Emerald Dunkin does not share the same interest in foreign relations, but rather what immediately affects the well-being of her community. Dunkin said the recent trials of impeachment against President Trump have been of much more concern to her than the proposed war on Iran.

“I feel some type of way about the impeachment. I feel more about that than the war,” she said.

Dunkin recalled the government shutdown of December 2018 and how it affected residents in their daily lives. She referenced several domestic issues, including the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, that captured her attention more than the war debate.

“People were stealing groceries from other people because [Trump] shut the government down,” Dunkin said. “Now this war, with all the International things, honestly, Black people don’t even care. They don’t even care about each other.”

Evidently, the D.C. experience strikes differently for transient Washingtonians than for natives. Alvarado encourages individuals to keep an open mind when considering these political issues and to research broadly.

“We need to kind of pay more attention to what’s currently going on in our community,” Alvarado said. “I feel like political parties are really carrying out their own agendas and it’s up to us to go ahead and make sure we keep an independent mind state and really look at all outlets of media. That way, there is no bias in how you feel based on how somebody else feels or what their agenda may be. I think it’s really important to be independently-minded and not always be influenced by what others portray things to be.”

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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