EDITORIAL: A Painful Silence

The nation’s capital has witnessed an enormous comeback reflecting many urban cities that have become magnets to a younger, more affluent, professional and predominately white demographic. This part is not news to those who have been threatened by the idea of gentrification and who now are living with its reality. And, honestly, it’s not all bad because as one former D.C. politician once said, “When ‘the people’ come, businesses and development will follow.” It is clear ‘The People’ are here and so is a more vibrant city than many residents who call themselves ‘natives’ have ever seen. Cranes continue to dot the city’s skyline and development has reached every quadrant and ward, including areas east of the Anacostia area. But all is not good either, and despite the silence about issues affecting the poor, the elderly, young people and families, the sound is nearly deafening to those who work with the city’s affected communities every day.

At a recent community gathering, individuals shared their concerns that many D.C. seniors are struggling to live on less than $150 a month and they are silently starving in their homes unaware of free programs that can help to feed them. Children are silently living in households with adults who are breaking the law by engaging in sundry drug related activities and who do not require them to attend school. Evictions and displacements are on the rise silently pouring more families and children into homelessness with nowhere to go in the DC area. And the quiet, but notorious, distribution of illegal guns end up reaching the hands of young people who shoot and often kill and then disappear because of the community’s silence.

No, all is not good in the nation’s capital.

With the return of the D.C. Council this week following its summer recess, legislators must do as promised by making sure voters are heard on issues included in their legislative agenda beginning on Sept. 20. There are several pieces of legislation on the agenda that will help the District’s most vulnerable residents but not enough. On Nov. 8, new members will be elected to the Council and sworn in on Jan. 3. They, too, will have to show that they listened to the voices of the city’s silent sufferers who elected them.

With all of the District’s new glitz and glamour, the lights still need to be focused on those who have fallen and need a hand up.

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