Thursday, August 5, 2010

Submission for MY GENERATION essay competition

The Cultural Center of the Inter-American Development Bank, with the help of a grant from the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities, announced in June an essay competition open to all writers of the District of Columbia metro area. A First Prize of $1,000, and Second and Third Prizes of $500 will be awarded. The title and theme of the essay is MY GENERATION. The winners will be announced in September. I submitted my essay below. Check it out:

I drew my first breath in DC—the Columbia Hospital for Women to be exact. Early years of hearing traces of Earth, Wind, and Fire singing from the living room where my dad was as I napped in the bedroom with my Mommy when I was two years-old stay settled in mind. I don’t forget. Window views that can see Malcolm X park are still photographed in my memories as I proudly know that I was an uptown baby before I knew what area of DC uptown was. I don’t stay settled though. Fast forward twenty some years and I return to DC after parental splits and youth years spent between Maryland suburbs of PG and Montgomery counties. This time, I rep the Eastside. Anacostia and Congress Heights are the neighborhoods I know and service. Working for Covenant House Washington for almost six years, I work in the schools, on the streets and in homes of the children I know and love. Living in the neighborhood I work in, I am even more committed to where I am. This is the life. My life. Fast forward five years and I now have a business partnership formed east of the river. I see the colors of the faces in the community change hue, suntans in reverse. I am sad for the families I know that I served that no longer can afford to live in DC. I am like them, too and had to move. But I didn’t leave. Not for good or completely anyway. I bring music and art when I come. I transform spaces into art places, convening events that celebrate, uplift and spew hope unabashedly. I watch dance, hear song and witness visual art brilliantly revitalize spaces and I believe that magic can happen, and I know truly, where my home is, for always. My generation remembers. We remember the MLK Memorial Library before the Verizon center blocked it from getting sun. We remember when the Metro Green line ended in Anacostia and when the trains stopped running before midnight. We remember hearing our voices amplified on the mic at Mangoes off of U Street before Bus Boys & Poets came to town and Bar Nun and Republic Gardens were the spots before Liv and Almaz transformed into club venues. While now we have a different menu, our memories keep track and allow one to preview what DC was before and compare it to now. We old folks remember, here to show the youngins the “what”, the “why” and the “how”.

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