From Tragedy to Reality: Analyzing the Rhetoric of Inner-city Communities and Their Members

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Najya Williams


“First, we need a more realistic understanding of America’s inner cities. They are socially and culturally heterogeneous, and a great majority of residents are law-abiding, God-fearing and often socially conservative.”
                                                                      -Orlando Patterson, New York Times

Born into a family of African American and Guyanese descent, I was well aware of the rhetoric surrounding minorities and inner-city communities that was established long before I was brought into this world. I grew up as a resident of Deanwood, a small community located in Ward 7 of Washington D.C., and always strived to beat the odds and prove the common stereotypes wrong. With U.S. Census Bureau (2010) data describing the region’s population as disadvantaged and economically unequipped, it is difficult for many on the outside looking in to believe that there are any who don’t fall into these labels. Based on my own experiences, I found that I had certain advantages by being an inner-city youth. In the very community I grew up in, I was crowned the first Queen of the Nannie Helen Burroughs Day Parade, served as a Historic Trail Guide on the Deanwood Trail, and won a poetry contest at my local library, Dorothy Heights Public Library. These moments are special to me because they display how Ward 7 not only celebrates its people, but also honors its historical prominence as well. Being a part of these events educated me about how Ward 7 has enriched the history of the Washington metropolitan area as a whole. I have had the unique opportunity and privilege of creating history in a region that has been written off by the rest of society.

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Williams, N. (2015). From Tragedy to Reality: Analyzing the Rhetoric of Inner-city Communities and Their Members. Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning & Community-Based Research, 4, 1–8.
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