A Washingtonian magazine photo shoot promoting a sense of community for Washingtonians via T-shirts featuring the slogan “I’m not a tourist” sparked immediate outrage.
Within days, native Washingtonians took to the Twittersphere and other social media to lambast the magazine for its conspicuous absence of a specific demographic — African Americans — from the photo essay.
Longtime community activists and business owners Tony Lewis Jr., Ronald Moten and Angel Anderson organized a counter photo shoot featuring the theme “Native, I’m From Here” at Union Market in Northeast where a mostly African-American but diverse group of Washingtonians showed up.
Lewis told a reporter on WAMU, “Someone should’ve been in the room to say, ‘Hey, this isn’t fully representative of the city.’ Someone should’ve said, ‘We don’t have one Black person, Not one.'”
However, Ronald Moten made it clear that the issue wasn’t just about race.
“We’ve come here to organize against the rampant and rapid disrespect of native Washingtonians,” Moten said. “It’s not just what the Washingtonian magazine did; it’s what we’re seeing everywhere. So we’re organizing and letting people know that our voices matter and we still have power in the city. We’re still 47 percent and not just talking about Black natives because so many of the people who have come here love the culture and diversity but it’s being destroyed its evaporating and we came together to stop it.”
The event attended by hundreds of native Washingtonian wearing all black proved a visually striking image especially at Union Market, considered by many as gentrification ground zero.
“It’s not just the Washington magazine — we’ve seen it all across the city,” Moten said. “So we‘re organizing to let people know we still have power in the city‘ and not just the Black natives but people who move here who also love the culture and diversity.”
Community leaders including Ward 8 ANC Commissioner and #DumpTrump slate candidate Sharece Crawford said, “They think that we‘re not from here, which is part of the reason we’re doing the photo shoot today and they also think that we’re not going to show up to vote. My new campaign is ‘From the Picture to the Polls,’ because we’re not just going to take a photo about being a native, we’re going to show up and demonstrate by using our right to vote.”