Racialization and Racism

Reclaiming the chocolate city: Soundscapes of gentrification and resistance in Washington, DC

In Washington, DC, Black residents have experienced unprecedented levels of cultural and physical displacement since 2000. Because of gentrification, the first “chocolate city,” long been defined by its blackness, has experienced shifts in the economy and commitments by the local government, that privilege policies that facilitate the displacement of Black families. Everyday struggles against gentrification have been of wide-ranging theoretical concern and pose an ongoing challenge for scholars in geography to understand the ways people resist gentrification and displacement. In this article, I show through an analysis of the anti-gentrification movement, #DontMuteDC, how Black people challenge the processes of gentrification by reclaiming space and resisting capitalist dispossession through cultural production. I demonstrate the relationship between Black sound aesthetics, gentrification, and a spatial politics of reclamation. I analyze the movement’s emphasis on go-go music as part of a process to (re)claim their place in the city, which I argue disrupts structures governing and managing normative space. I propose reclamation aesthetics as an analytic through which we can understand Black cultural production and Black place- and space-making practices as responses to socio-spatial inequities.

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Volume 39 Issue 1

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