DC Is Black As Fuck. Which Must Suck If You're A Racist On Vacation There.

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Washington, DC, is a wonderful city. It also conjures up two distinctly different identities depending on who you’re speaking with. For instance, for the young, urban professional, when we think of DC we think of U Street, NW, (or what once was U Street, NW) and H Street, NE, Columbia Heights, 14th Street, NW,  DuPont Circle and brunch and Park and beautiful, college educated women, and not nearly as many eligible Black men, and day parties, and the epicenter of bougie Blackness, and the mecca, Howard University. I’d wager that from afar, when talking to a young Black person about DC, that’s the image they have.

That’s DC.

For the rest of America exists Washington. It’s a city full of monuments and museums and the National Monument and despite who is living in it (for another 7 months at least) the White House. It’s the center of this great land of ours, the United States of America. It is ground zero for John Cougar Mellencamp fans and the shining beacon of democracy from sea to shining sea.

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For most of us young urbanites in DC, we work in and for Washington during the work week while engaging with DC after work. Museums and monuments are dope, especially at night. But during the daytime, our fair city is overrun by tourists and people with disposable cameras who purchase apparel that says shit like “FBI” and “Secret Service” and “Washington DC” in stars & stripes designs. My favorite are the “Secret Agent” sweatshirts.

Washington is trill.

One time, at a band camp, while walking along the National Mall, I remember seeing a fellow wearing one of the most awesome t-shirts I’d ever seen in my life. This fellow was white with an American flag hat on and was accompanied by his family, a lovely visage.

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In lovely graphically designed copy, it said, “If I knew it’d be like this, I’d have picked my own damn cotton.”

I guffawed heartily and my homegirl who was walking with me couldn’t believe he had the nerve to wear this out in DC. I told her that he was in Washington and I don’t think he makes the connection.

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Which brings me to an interesting query: how do racists handle visiting places like Washington, DC, where despite the color of most of the buildings, a significant many of the tour guides and workers are all Black people who may hold dominion over their lives for an extended period of time?

Creep with me.

I was at the National Zoo a few weekends back for a birthday party for a child who attends my daughter’s school. We went on a pretty lazy tour of the zoo and I noticed that nearly all of the tour guides (that I saw that day) were people of color, and mostly Black.

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Do racists care about having Black tour guides? Do they prepare for this somehow before venturing to DC?

When they begin their ascent into DC, do they huddle their families and say, “look, this here’s America, but we brought the darkies over and since we can’t own ‘em no more, we had to give ‘em jobs. There’s a chance that one of these darkies with jobs is gonna cross our path like a black cat, and they’re bad luck just like a black cat, but fret not, you’re still better. Just smile as gooder as you can and don’t make eye contact. I heard a story about making eye contact with Prince, that tiny jigaboo that likes purple, and they say if you look them in the eye, they’re steal your soul and take your whiteness. We’re taking our souls back to Indiana. Got it? You don’t have to put no respeck on their name, but I really want to see one of them Wright Brothers airplanes so just suck it up.”

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I’m wonder if its anything like that.

And what about being ON tours? I’ve asked questions before trying to big league a tour guide. What if a racist asked a question and didn’t like the response or felt like the answer was wrong? For instance, what if a racist asked the question at Ford’s Theatre, where President Lincoln was shot, why he led us into Civil War? And the tour guide stated that it was because Lincoln wanted to free the slaves (I’m not saying its true, just follow me here) and the racist was like, “well actually, it’s because he didn’t believe in state’s rights to govern accordingly!”

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And the tour guide said, “well those states’ rights were the right to own slaves.”

And the racists said, “Yes’m, they were. And we’d have won that thing if we didn’t run out of ammo. What ‘dya think about that?”

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Now, obviously, I’m paraphrasing and I’d bet good money that most racists just keep their heads down and go about the cultural experience of dealing with the big city and all of the lights we have around here. Plus, it’s almost impossible to enjoy Washington, DC, without interacting with people of different cultures and viewpoints. While I don’t think anybody is coming here and getting enlightened, I’d imagine that for some it’s a welcome excursion from their regular lives with the added bonus of being able to go home and tell tales about the monkeys working the merry-go-round on the National Mall.

Randomness aside, I do wonder, how exactly do racists, who I’d wager typically stay to themselves or in more controlled environments, deal a cultural explosion that places them into a minority, even if only briefly?

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These things keep me up at night.

If you know a racist, please send them here. Thanks.

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About the author

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.