On D.C.’s U Street, can’t we all just swagger along?
Published: August 9 in The Washington Post

Stephen A. Crockett’s article about “swagger-jacking” on U Street [“Stealing home?,” Metro, Aug. 3] got me all jacked up. I am one of the so-called “swagger-jackers” to whom he was referring. I own two of the restaurants mentioned in the article, and although Mr. Crockett assumed I am not black, frankly, I am not sure what I am. Neither are most of my customers, though most of them seem to find my race irrelevant.

My places were never meant to be black establishments catering to black customers; they are meant to be community cultural hubs that preserve the legacy and history of the District and uplift racial and cultural connections. These connections are essential for a city whose discourse too often digresses into a racial abyss that is neither healthy nor constructive. My places and others named in Mr. Crockett’s article are essential cultural watering holes that can help create community and reconfigure the discourse.

Just days before opening my restaurant at 14th and V streets NW, I was inside waiting for my final inspections. I saw two elderly black women peering through the window. I opened the door and invited them in. They entered with some trepidation, trying to assess my swagger. Standing at the center of the space, they took in the artwork all around them. They saw the mural that depicts the civil rights struggles of the area and the history of the District. I was somewhat nervous about what they thought until I saw a tear come down one of their faces. That’s when I knew that I wasn’t “swagger-jacking.”

Andy Shallal, Washington

The writer is owner of Busboys and Poets and Eatonville restaurants.

BlackLivesMatter2

Black Lives Matter

We at Busboys and Poets are distressed at the senseless violence against Black men, women, children, and Black people of all genders that has become all too commonplace in this country. Not a day goes by that we don’t see a video, a Tweet or a Facebook post of a Black person facing assault or … Continued

angela

Angela Davis coming to 450K

With Angela Davis coming to Busboys and Poets – 450K next month, we thought to re-read the full transcript of her iconic speech at the Women’s March in 2017.  Be sure to mark your calendars for October 11th, 2018 at 6:30pm.  Food and drinks will be available throughout the event and books will be available … Continued

Busboys and Poets State of the People Series of Alternative State of the Union Events

State of the People at Busboys and Poets

We’re 30+ days into the longest federal government shutdown in history with no sure sign of when it’ll actually end (reopening for three weeks does not count, Mr. President.) The State of the Union address was scheduled to take place on January 29, 2019, but has never been given during a government shutdown. What should … Continued

Busboys and Poets Books Review: Before the Next Bomb Drops

Busboys and Poets Books Review: Before the Next Bomb Drops

In his second poetry collection, Remi Kanazi takes the reader on a journey of violence and collective ignorance from Palestine to Ferguson to Iraq to Brooklyn. His unapologetically angry, graphic depictions of violence and fierce indictment of the ignorant among us who claim “the world is a messed-up place” but do nothing to stop it … Continued