Arts Desk

Head-Roc’s Mouth: “Keep D.C. Walmart Free!”

An occasional feature in which esteemed D.C. rapper Head-Roc shares what’s on his mind.

Here we go, Chocolate City. To Walmart, or not to Walmart? Well, here is the answer: No!

D.C. residents do not want a Walmart. Just like D.C. residents didn’t want a baseball stadium, a new convention center, a “trolly going down H Street,” and the leveling of the Bruce-Monroe School. And they don’t want private developers’ “mixed-use” (they love to use that term) easy-profit scams, or the host of other gentrification deals that have sucked this city dry. These projects are supposed to create jobs, and stimulate and revitalize neighborhoods. Instead, they destroy or choke out local small businesses. They contribute to the displacement of longtime D.C. residents in communities where resources have been historically hard to come by.

Meanwhile, the city’s budget deficit for the upcoming year 2011 is projected to be around $600 million. That’s a lot of money. It makes me wonder about whether the $46 million subsidy for a Marriot-affiliated hotel in Adams Morgan is a part of those calculations. If so, that number should be deducted because Adams Morgan does not need a Marriot hotel that costs tax payers $46 million. It doesn’t.

And D.C. doesn’t need a Walmart either—and certainly not four of them. And get this: Here in Chocolate City, they’re being advertised as urban Walmarts! What is that supposed to be? Is that another way of saying they want to start the country’s first “black” Walmart here in Chocolate City?

After the jump: Head-Roc’s “Keep DC Walmart Free” anthem

The Walmart propaganda machine is out in full force too! Sister Michelle Obama helped launch a healthy foods campaign spearheaded by Walmart. I guess they are gonna have healthy foods at the “black” Walmarts proposed to open in long-neglected wards where the other big chain food stores pulled out of years ago. Hey, I ain’t saying Walmart is stupid.

And with those neighborhoods in desperate need of healthy food choices, since the city has shown no concern until the likes of a Walmart inquired, its gonna be quite a chess match to argue that Walmart is actually exactly what Washington DC does not want. My friends in the D.C. chapter of the International Peoples Democratic Uhuru Movement have a slogan they use that says “Forget Walmart, we need our mart!” I’m definitely on that page.

As DC resident who would like to see this city do tons more pursuing local investment solutions to our current budget and economic woes, I am opposed to the presence of a company like Walmart in DC. The strongest reasons for me being so are best articulated in the second verse of the “Keep DC Walmart Free” anthem I penned, which is streaming from the website.

The music was created by DJ Munch, and I was honored to once again have my activist partner Dr. Jared Ball, aka The Funkienst Journalist, provide scholarly commentary on the 1-2-3s of how Walmart gets down. Personally, I think it needs some monster cuts to give it that boom bap polishing. I’m working on that and will update the current version once I’m done. For now, you can listen to the song here–and enjoy!

There's a screening tomorrow (Friday, Feb. 18) of the film Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price at 6:30 p.m. at Plymouth Congregational Church. 5301 North Capitol St. NE. For more information call 202-787-5229 or 202-829-0306 or visit

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  • Alex

    If this were sarcasm or parody, it would be awesome.

    As it stands, it's more ignorant, racist drivel.

  • Lt. Hightower

    So I guess what Alex is saying is "If I agreed with your point of view I would like this article, but since I don't, I think it sucks."

    Congratulations on having an opinion - we're all very proud of you. (And since that last sentence is sarcasm, does that make it awesome?)

  • Alex

    As opposed to having an attitude of "well racism is OK, as long as I agree with the underlying point." Or, "racism is OK, as long as it is against white people."

    Wrong, jerk. There are better ways to oppose a Wal-Mart than by stoking or ginning up racial divisions in this city. This isn't a "chocolate city;" it never has been, and never will be. There is no such thing as a "chocolate city" in a country as diverse as ours. Espousing such an attitude is as hateful and ignorant as a white racist painting the word "nigger" on the garage of a black family who moved to the suburbs. Referencing the "Peoples Democratic Uhuru Movement," the hateful group that has been putting up intimidating, racist posters around the city staying "keep DC a chocolate city" just makes this whole thing worse.

    This is the attitude that empowers thugs to randomly harass and beat up white people at Metro stations, and gives others the attitude that the spectical should be laughed at and video-taped, rather than step in as a fellow human and interviene or call the authorities. Hey, those evil white people aren't human, they are just yuppie robots coming to take over a "chocolate city," right? As someone who is white, has been here a very long time, and isn't wealthy, this is incredibly offensive to me, and it should be to all humans with any shred of logic in their brains, black or white.

    In addition, just because something is called "urban" doesn't automatically mean "black." I've seen an "urban" Wal-Mart before, it simply means it blends in with an urban landscape (ie hugs the sidewalk and has hidden parking lots, like the Target in Columbia Heights that everyone seems to love).

    There are decent points in this article, all of which stand on their own without having to resort to petty racism. For instance, the question on labor practices and local business displacement; the valid questioning of the city's past endevors that didn't spur as much revitalization as promised; and the point (with which I fully agree) that we don't need to be giving tax subsidies to corporations trying to build a hotel (or whatever) in Adams Morgan, or anywhere. However that also brings up the point that Wal-Mart is wisely avoiding tax breaks or subsidies while building in underserved areas, areas which Head-Roc conceeds were long abandoned by other stores, and haven't seen any recent interest by any of them except for Wal-Mart.

    The last point that I'd like to bring up is the Wal-Mart on Annapolis Road. Any day you drive out there, you find MANY cars with DC license plates, most of which are driven and ridden by black people. Something tells me that they do want a Wal-Mart in DC, and something tells me that the tax dollars they're spending in PG County would be much better kept inside the city. Again, that's all up for debate, and the only real indicator will be to see if they succeed or fail once in place.

    I don't know if I'll even shop at Wal-Mart (I've gone to Annapolis Road a few times since it opened), but I'm willing to let them come in and try, especially without taking tax breaks or subsidies. And there are many people of different races and income levels that feel the same way, despite what Head-Roc and his hateful attitude think.

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  • cwanderson

    To Alex,

    I don't think you are part of the Wal-Mart propaganda campaign, but that doesn't excuse your imputing racism where there was none. I read the article I didn't see any racism.

  • cwanderson

    Hey Alex buddyol'pal, listen to the Head-Roc rap on Wal-mart, there's no hate in it.

    The more i think about your angry yet cloying posting, I changed my mind. you were paid to write that post. clown.