Columbia Heights – Sustaining a multicultural society
The Columbia Heights community, located just north of the White House in Washington, D.C., is known for having a heavy African American and Latino population. With the onset of gentrification, the population is continuously changing as whites, Africans, Asians and other ethnicities are moving into the community, while African-Americans and Latinos are moving away from the city.
To maintain the traditional socio-fabric and cultural aspects of the Columbia Heights community, there are organizations and groups working hard to stay in tune with the city’s motto: Unity in Diversity. Dipanwita Ghosh, Arunjana Das and Arliene T. Penn were able to visit this community to learn what steps are being taken not only to preserve culture, but to see in what ways a multicultural society is sustained.
Ghosh looks at how a dance studio is able to bridge diversity and bring different ethnicities to together for choreographed performances. The studio is able to incorporate different genres of dance that reflects the diversity of its participants.
Das looks at a Hispanic theatre that devotes itself to assisting immigrants in finding solace in their new community. It promotes the Spanish culture through plays and movie that chronicles the many issues affecting the Hispanic community.
Penn looks at hair braiding as a form of subtle communication between West Africans and African-Americans. Hair braiding is an artistic tool used to inform the public that Africa is not a monolith, and African-Americans are wearing the styles to show that black hair is beautiful.
These stories show a commonality in the Columbia Heights community, in that, people are exhibiting different artistic disciplines to express cultural creativity and social engagement.
We do hope that you enjoy the stories that are accompanied with different multimedia aspects including photo videos, maps and interviews.
— Arliene Penn
West Africans and African Americans in the Columbia Heights community connecting through hair braiding
Video and text by Arliene T. Penn
Bridging diversity through dance
Text and audio slideshow by Dipanwita Ghosh
Gala Hispanic Theatre
Text and photographs by By Arunjana Das