The city of Washington, D.C. united under the banner of its homegrown musical genre Go-Go with the hashtag #DontMuteDC, this after what appeared to be an attack to silence the artform. Today, the City Council will hold a public hearing this afternoon in an attempt to officially name Go-Go the official music of the Nation’s Capital and hopefully aid in the rapidly
colonized gentrifying city in maintaining some of its original flavor.
In a New York Times op-ed from Dr. Natalie Hopkinson, the Howard University professor positions several points in the piece that support the myriad number of reasons why Go-Go music deserves to be recognized as the sound of Washington.
From the op-ed:
In April, residents of luxury apartments in the gentrifying, historically black U Street area complained about the noise from a Metro PCS store that had been known since the 1990s for playing loud go-go music. When the music was turned off in the wake of a threatened lawsuit against T-Mobile, which owns Metro PCS, thousands of residents took to the streets to protest, using the digital battle cry #DontMuteDC to spread their message. More than 80,000 people signed a “Don’t Mute DC Go-Go Music and Culture” petition I created with the activist Ronald Moten. John Legere, T-Mobile’s chief executive, tweeted, “I’ve looked into this issue myself and the music should NOT stop in D.C.!”The store turned its music back up.
But the go-go music, culture, community and economy were in a state of emergency even before this particular attempt to silence the music. Washington has been gentrified faster than any other city in the United States. More than 20,000 black Washingtonians were displaced between 2000 and 2013. Music education has been stripped from many schools. The Metropolitan Police Department’s “go-go report” of where bands were playing helped criminalize go-go culture. Curfew laws in the 1980s targeted go-go venues but excluded movie theatres and venues for European performance art. The city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has been cracking down on go-go club owners since the 1990s.
City Councilman Kenyan McDuffie has introduced the legislation that will go heard today at 4:00 PM EST at the John A. Wilson Building, which houses the office of Mayor Muriel Bowser and the City Council as well.
It is a fascinating piece from Dr. Hopkinson and rightfully details why Go-Go music should have the honor and distinction of holding the title of Washington, D.C.s official music. Read the full op-ed here.