It’s no secret that I live in Washington, D.C. While I’ve had a love-hate relationship with this city for various reasons, it’s home. No matter where I go in the world, even when I’m back in Atlanta or Madison/Huntsville, Ala., at this point in life, D.C. is home. I’ve lived in the D.C. urea for 17 years at this point, with 13 of them having an actual Washington, D.C., address and zip code.
The last six years of my life have been spent living in the southeastern quadrant of the city. For those with limited exposure to the city (or none at all), when speaking to people about where we live in D.C., we typically speak in terms of what quadrant: northwest, northeast, southwest or southeast. Locals and transplants have opinions on each quadrant. Where I live—southeast—is largely recognized as the black side of town. Interestingly, a pretty significant swath of southeast (SE) is white, especially now. But they don’t refer to themselves as living in SE, it’s Navy Yard or Capitol Hill East ... or just Capitol Hill. Geopolitics is alive and well in D.C.
But me? Naw, bro. I live in the black parts, where carry-outs reign supreme and remnants of D.C.’s old cultural signifiers are still present. I live in the Congress Heights section of the city (that’s my Metro/subway stop, though I think my actual neighborhood would be different) and though we have our problems, I rather enjoy the liveliness. Now, sometimes it gets a little too live, but I live in the city; it’s the price of doing business.
The main thoroughfare through SE runs from Anacostia through Congress Heights through Bellevue-Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE. And it is in Congress Heights, Southeast D.C., where the blackest intersection in America occurs. I’d be willing to bet your last paycheck on it. Not mines; I need mines.
What makes a black intersection? I’m glad you asked. I might not be able to define it but I’m fairly sure that by the time I finish explaining this particular intersection, you will likely agree, nod your head and say out loud to nobody in particular, “Yep, that just might be the blackest intersection in America.”
If I may, here are the reasons I think that the blackest intersection in America resides in Washington, D.C. And I’d challenge anybody to top this shit:
1. MLK Jr. Avenue, SE intersects with ...
... hold on ...
... wait for it ...
... Malcolm X Avenue, SE.
That alone puts it top 5, dead or alive.
But wait, there’s more.
2. There’s a Popeyes chicken on one corner of this intersection.
3. There’s a liquor store called Mart (probably short for Martin Luther King) on Liquors another corner. Stereotypical, yes?
4. There’s a huge park where, at any given time, you can find games of chess, checkers, Wake the Dope Fiend or spades happening from people who clearly have nowhere to be at any time ever, mixed with weekly health fairs testing folks for the pressure, the sugar and the ‘ritis.
5. Around the corner, but seen from the intersection of MLK and Malcolm X Avenues, SE, is Mellon Street, SE, which has a mural of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. giving his famous “I Have A Dream” speech in Washington, D.C., in 1963. There is also a huge painting of MLK’s face. Added to his face by folks who don’t give a fuck about anything are a tattoo’d teardrop and a tattoo’d five-point star under his eyes. It’s like a mural from High School High or Don’t Be a Menace 2 South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood.