Editorial

EDITORIAL: Blacks Living East of the River Deserve an Equal Playing Field, Not More Platitudes

Last weekend, prominently featured, as we say in the print media industry, “above the fold” — that is on the top of the front page — The Washington Post published a news story titled, “We’ve Been Suffering.” Its focus was on Ward 8 with a subhead that read, “For a D.C. ward beset by poverty and violence, the coronavirus adds a new layer of pain.”

The article was well-researched with extensive data about how those living in the ward have been hit the hardest among the District’s population by the coronavirus. But it was also personal for some D.C. residents including D.C. Council member Trayon White, Sr. who recently announced the death of his grandmother who after contracting COVID-19 had died just days earlier. White, upon being questioned by the reporter for more details about her life, changed the direction of the conversation insisting that the struggles his family has faced are commonplace.

“We’ve been suffering from people dying in Ward 8 for the last 30, 40 years,” he said noting a legacy of health challenges that disproportionately impact Blacks that include diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, suicide and homicide.

“It’s always people of color dying in the city. It’s nothing new,” he added.

As the writer continued, we’re told that there are other obstacles which routinely hinder many Black men and women in Ward 8 from successfully navigating through and away from communities plagued by the “inner city blues” — challenges like unemployment, violent crime and drug addiction.

The coronavirus, we’re told, has only added more layers to the pain in lethal dosages.

Now what? How will life change for the better for today’s or tomorrow’s generations of Blacks who live east of the Anacostia River given this latest report which shows the great divide for those who reside in Ward 8 versus those who hail from Georgetown? Will this be the spark that levels the playing field?

We doubt it. Trayon White’s agitated response and the statistics highlighted in the article are reflective of what’s been talked about and lived for decades. We know the monsters that plague our community.

But we similarly know the monsters who prefer to maintain the status quo.

Let’s change the trajectory and begin to have some pointed conversations that allow for true equality in the District — justice for all one might say. Let’s see those who are in power put the money and investments where they’re needed the most. Maybe then the stories about life east of the river will be dominated by successful tales instead of woeful fables filled with platitudes.

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