City Desk

Alleged Swagger-Jackers to Swagger-Jack Concept of Talking About Swagger-Jacking

Almost a month after Root DC contributor Stephen A. Crockett accused U Street area restaurants like Busboys & Poets of "swagger-jacking" black culture, the V Street NW restaurant is holding a panel on the concept of swagger-jacking this Sunday at 5 p.m.

U Street restaurants like Busboys & Poets and The Brixton are swagger-jacking, Crockett argued on the Post-run site, by draping themselves in the trappings of black culture, even as the area's poorer black residents are driven out by rising property values.

"We kind of thought that it was a little bit of a swipe to lump all of the restaurants together in that way," says Busboys & Poets events manager Pamela Pinnock. In a letter to the Post earlier this month, Busboys owner Andy Shallal also denied swagger-jacking.

Shallal will speak at the panel, which is part of Busboys' A.C.T.O.R. (A Continuing Talk On Race) series. Others on the panel include Georgetown professor Maurice Jackson and Sheldon Scott, another accused swagger-jacker and the general manager at U Street's Marvin.

One person who won't be there is Crockett, who Pinnock says declined to speak at the discussion. Crockett didn't respond to a request for comment from City Desk.

Photo by Daquella manera

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  • Jay

    My grandparents grew up in the Jewish neighborhoods of Brooklyn that shifted into becoming African-American and latino neighborhoods in the 1950s and '60s. There were many who stood up and decried the shift in demographics as destroying the cultural feelings of the Jewish neighborhood that had been in place from the 1880s to the 1950s. And those who stood up and decried that shift were racist.

    How is it any less racist for the African-American community to complain about DC become "more white"?

    Is gentrification changing a neighborhood? Changing a culture? Maybe. But arguing this should not happen is arguing for a form of segregation. It is appalling when white neighborhoods complain about minorities moving in, and it's equally apalling when when minority neighborhoods complain about white people moving in.

  • Remote

    "How is it any less racist for the African-American community to complain about DC become "more white"? "

    Perhaps because many of the Jewish people you reference CHOSE to leave, whereas many of the black people now are having to leave more or less against their will (getting priced out).

    Just off the top of my head.

  • Um

    You're all dumb.

    It is not racist to suggest that white people moving into some of these neighborhoods is causing problems of gentrification and forcing out minority communities in unfortunate ways. But it IS racist to say that it is BECAUSE THEY ARE WHITE. It's also over simplified and not useful (i.e. dumb).

    Here is this logic applied to another example:
    It is not racist to suggest that, in general, primarily black schools perform worse than primarily white schools in DC. But it IS racist to suggest that the the problem in poorly performing schools is BECAUSE THEY ARE BLACK.

    Again, the CORRELATION is not the problem. But the CAUSE you have identified is both wrong AND racist.

    Perhaps the problem we have here is stupid people, not race.

  • Um

    Oh and Remote, that is not what happened to Jewish neighborhoods. Saying that Jews "chose" to move when black families moved into their neighborhoods is so overly simplified that is almost completely untrue. It's no more accurate than saying blacks chose to move when white people moved in. Again, you are focussing on race (and in this case ethnicity) when really social and economic factors are at issue.

  • Northwesterner

    The first weekend I moved into my DC neighborhood I got harassed by some kids who threatened me. Then the next morning the air conditioner was stolen out of my apartment window.

    It's certainly true that African-Americans are disproportionately priced out of communities. But there's a phrase in the black community for the rampant daily crime that pushes people with the ability to live anywhere out of those neighborhoods- "That's why we can't have nice things."

    I toughed out the sometimes weekly harassment until our neighborhood was gentrified enough that the harassment stopped.

    Remote- this is your community, deal with the fallout when people reject you for good reasons.

  • Mike

    Spot on Northwesterner. Why is every neighborhood in this region diverse on integrated with many races except for African American

  • Frank Lee Mahdear

    I grew up in a neighborhood that until the '70s was mostly white ethnic, blue-collar types. Then the whites started moving out to the 'burbs because they wanted bigger houses and yards and better schools, and the Puerto Ricans started moving in.

    Then, in the '90s, the Puerto Ricans started moving to the 'burbs and white people started moving in, except these weren't the blue-collar folks who had moved out, or even their kids. It was artists and hipsters at first, then yuppie scum.

    So, which was more racist and classist and all those things we're supposed to get mad about -- when the white folks moved out in the '70s, or when the white folks moved in in the '90s?