For one night, Washington, D.C., took off its hard bottoms, dress pants, work suits, office dresses and let its pinned-up braids down, to collectively sing “Pretty Girls” all over 14th and U streets in a symbolic go-go gathering that stomped on the colonizers’ graves.
It was brilliantly dubbed #MoeChella, a mashup of Coachella (an uber-white gathering of skinny people in weird clothes that ended in a herpes outbreak, no, seriously) and “Moe” (D.C. slang), where several thousand D.C. residents and D.C. transplants pushed back against the growing, unyielding tidal wave that is gentrification, which brings with it calls to police about noise from the natives who were here long before their asses were. Literally, thousands mobbed the iconic corner of 14th and U Streets N.W., the same corner that was flooded in 2008 when Obama took office.
Like most beautiful things, #MoeChella was birthed out of a grassroots effort to fight against inhabiters of spaces they don’t own to silence the music of the people. For years, at least for as long as I can remember, back when the corner of Florida Avenue and 7th Street had a Popeye’s, there was a Metro PCS storefront that played go-go music.
And it was good.
Then, as with most things intrinsically native, along came white folks who pillaged the community looking for cheap rents and flutes (fine, they weren’t looking for flutes but white people do love a good woodwind instrument), and what they found was a heavy percussive beat that sounded way too much like Africa. And while they want our food and our hips and our dances and our language, they don’t want the gristle, just the meat.
The colonizers began complaining, as they’ve been known to do, and the music was shut down; word spread that the Metro PCS had been told to “kill, Moe,” so what happened next was just old-school D.C. at its finest.
The hashtag #MuteDC grew on social media and several impromptu go-gos began popping up in and around the Metro PCS store after the music was first shut down. The music eventually came back to the storefront, but the colonizers needed to be reminded that you can’t silence the sound of a city.
So on Tuesday evening, a little after work, the masses who made this city what it was converged to celebrate the music they helped create.
I mean seriously, look and listen to all this black gloriousness:
Lead by D.C. shadow senator Big G, aka Slim Charles from The Wire, the city had a moment to remember who and what it used to be. Here’s Big G wrapped in a D.C. flag leading the rest of Wakanda in prayer.
Backyard Band was joined by ABM, the legendary DJ Kool, DJ Domo and Hav Mercy and was hosted by Yaddiya. This was the third peaceful protest in which several black folks converged on a once all-black space to remind us what happens when we all come together in the name of pushing back against gentrification. Sure, it won’t stop the massive building of overpriced apartments in formerly black spaces, but it feels good to disturb some avocado toast eaters while we beat our feet all over this city we helped build.