Charles View, Tone P, Wanda Henderson, Sam P.K. Collins and Senghor Baye at Lamond-Riggs Neighborhood Library on April 14 (Courtesy photo)
Charles View, Tone P, Wanda Henderson, Sam P.K. Collins and Senghor Baye at Lamond-Riggs Neighborhood Library on April 14 (Courtesy photo)

The #DontMuteDC movement demonstrated go-go’s hometown appeal and sparked conversations about gentrification, particularly how a collective lack of ownership allowed outside forces to silence the music emanating from the MetroPCS on 7th Street and Florida Avenue in Northwest.

The dialogue continued last weekend during a panel discussion at Lamond-Riggs Neighborhood Library in Northeast that featured award-winning producer Tone P, Shaw-area businesswoman Wanda Henderson, and local realtor Charles View. In reflecting on their professional experiences, each panelist touted the importance of ownership and a communal economic system.

“Economics is a big conversation. Most Black people don’t want to jump into this realm until their late 20s and early 30s,” Tone P said during Sunday’s panel discussion, titled “Thinking Beyond #DontMuteDC.”

Throughout most of the 90-minute conversation, Tone, who carved a niche in the music industry by mixing the go-go and hip-hop sound, explained how today’s go-go artists should embrace lyricism and originality.

Later, he, Henderson and View spoke about methods of circumventing the banks, including investor and vertical integration, when launching an independent venture.

“We need to start taking ownership of our kids so this conversation becomes easier,” Tone P said. “We live in an entire system and go to schools where white people teach us one way and they [do something else]. White people don’t run to the bank.”

The D.C.-based members of the Pan-African Federalist Movement (PAFM) hosted the even as part of an effort to unite individuals and groups in D.C., nationally, and across the globe around the political unification of the African diaspora in less than a generation.

The economics-focused forum fulfilled one of eight goals specific to PAFM’s local arm, known as the Banneker City Super-Local Initiating Committee. On Sunday, PAFM members Sam P.K. Collins and Senghor Baye explained how gentrification parallels the issues affecting people of African descent across the globe.

Later during the discussion, View, well on his way to fulfilling a goal of placing 35 people on a path to home ownership by the end of the year, walked nearly audience members through the home-buying process. Along the way, he stressed the importance of planning years in advance and repairing one’s credit.

In reiterating View’s point, Henderson, owner of Wanda’s on 7th, located a few doors down from MetroPCS, emphasized how her reputation as a businesswoman allowed her to return to the Shaw area after changes along 7th Street between Florida Avenue and T Street pushed out other businesses over the course of a decade.

“I was blessed to have some investors see what was going on with me,” Henderson said. “I was fortunate enough to have an architectural group to make sure we came back to our space. They couldn’t pressure a sister to move out. Networking is powerful. Everyone has a skill. If we don’t have our banks, we have our investment groups to help each other grow.”

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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