It would be sad if longtime black residents of the District's Cardozo-Shaw neighborhood were as uniformly resentful and distrusting of their newer white neighbors as Metro reporter Patrice Gaines suggests ["The Cast and Their Lot," Dec. 7].

Because their educated, organized and politically active neighbors -- some of whom happen to be white -- have recently managed to make city government more responsive in improving the safety, services and property values for their neighborhood, some black residents sense racism. After all, the reasoning goes, blacks had been complaining to bureaucrats and politicians for years to no avail. The new neighbors must have gotten action because they're white.

Well, before we District citizens allow ourselves again to be manipulated into counterproductive, often-imagined divisions, let me posit an alternative theory: Now that voters have finally seen fit to move beyond the cronyism, corruption and criminality of the previous mayoral administration, well-organized, informed and committed citizens -- of all races and backgrounds -- are much likelier to get an effective hearing on quality-of-life issues.

The current administration knows that the very survival of this city's nonfederal neighborhoods depends on taxpayer satisfaction with local government and, yes, a significant in-migration of middle-class families and homeowners. That's not racism. That's Urban Sociology 101.



After reading the article on racial friction in Shaw, it occurred to me that white folks in the District can't win for losing.

If we move to the suburbs, we're accused of turning our backs on the city. If we live in the city in a historically white neighborhood, we're accused of racism. If we move to a historically black neighborhood, we're accused of carpetbagging, blockbusting and being where we're not wanted. If we get involved in our community, we're accused of throwing our weight around. If we don't, we're accused of apathy.

I can understand why many older African American residents are bitter when new residents receive action on their demands for better city services while the older residents have been seeking action for years. But the answer is not to be angry at the new residents. The answer is not to accept a culture of government that treats those with influence and those without differently. Don't keep reelecting politicians because "they're like us" -- when they don't deliver.

It would be nice if we could get beyond what we look like and work together to make a better city.