Back in June, my neighbor Jess proposed holding a party in our shared back alley. She emailed a handful of us with the details and added, “Please spread the word! We'd love to extend this to all the neighbors.” Her point, I knew, was to ensure that the party wasn’t just white people like us, but an actual representation of our Truxton Circle neighborhood, formerly a predominantly African-American community in central Washington, D.C. that’s now about evenly split between blacks and whites.
But when the party finally occurred, all the guests at the shindig were—surprise!—young, professional, and white. We were “those gentrifiers,” the ones who interact only with other new, white residents. I overheard Jess complaining about it: “There's always this separation. I don't know how to get around it.” But she admitted she’d barely mentioned it to longtime black residents. “I just didn’t have people’s emails,” she shrugged.