As a native Washingtonian who has lived in Southeast D.C. all of my life and who has been living in the Capitol Hill area for the last eight years, I was personally offended by Sarah Ransbottom referring to SE’s streets as “mean” and “tough” in her article about Las Placitas restaurant (Sept. 2, p. 16). In fact, I have been reading The Hatchet for about five years now, and every time SE is mentioned it has a negative connotation. This account of SE is inaccurate, small-minded and feeds into a mistaken stereotype from those who are not from this area.
First of all, I want those reading to understand that SE is actually separated into two parts. One is Greater SE, which is across the Anacostia River and is home to some relatively tough neighborhoods such as Anacostia, Congress Heights and Fairfax Village. The other part of SE is a part of “mainland” D.C. The Eastern Market area, which is where Sarah visited to write the article, is in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of DC. It is a developing and bustling area, with a variety of shops and restaurants that are representative of its diverse population. The main attractions of the Eastern Market area are the Marine Barracks at 8th and I streets – which are directly across from Las Placitas and are heavily guarded 24/7 – the famous open-air Eastern Market – for which the community is named – and the House and Senate offices of the U.S. government. The Victorian-style brownstones in this area of SE are occupied by Congressman and many other professionals. Most recently, Ari Fleischer – the former White House press secretary – bought a four-story row house there. This part of SE is most definitely not mean; in fact, dog-walkers are seen all times of night in the well-lit and quiet streets.
There are many converses to dispel the popular notion of SE being “mean” and NW being safe. For example, Greater SE is home to the beautiful and vast Hillcrest neighborhood, which is a community of middle and upper class families with large homes and actual lawns. It is home to the popular Frederick Douglass home and the world-renowned Anacostia Museum. Also, NW is not the crowning jewel of the city as some choose to think. In fact, the popular Adams Morgan area has recently been under a crack-down issued by the Metropolitan Police Chief for excessive gang activity and an unusually high influx of crime and homicide. NW is also home to some of the worst crime I have ever known as a Washingtonian, in areas not that far from GW, like 14th and Clifton, LeDroit Park and streets off of Georgia Avenue. I am not saying this to discredit any part of D.C., for I love the whole city and wish that others who call it home – even temporarily – would embrace it as I do. All four quadrants of Washington have great cultural aspects that everyone new and old to this city should explore. Unfortunately, as with all urban areas, all four quadrants of D.C. also have issues with crime and under-development. I hope that this would inspire those at The Hatchet to discontinue spreading an unfair stereotype about some of the loveliest parts of this wonderful city.
-The writer is a senior majoring in liberal arts.