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Re: [WardOneDC] Re: Loose Lips Washington City Paper Interview with Kenny Barnes

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  • d1pzen@comcast.net
    please add me ... From: Nigel L. Shulterbrandt Gragg YEA FOR KENNY!!! On 12/12/05 2:11 PM, Vance Gragg
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 12, 2005
      please add me
      -------------- Original message --------------
      From: "Nigel L. Shulterbrandt Gragg" <nigelgragg@...>
      YEA FOR KENNY!!!

      On 12/12/05 2:11 PM, "Vance Gragg" <vance@...> wrote:


      On Dec 12, 2005, at 1:21 PM, Kennysr@... wrote:

      Loose Lips . Washington City Paper <http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/lips/2005/lips1202.html>  

      In an article of the December 2 issue of the City Paper, titled The Graham Crusade, I was interviewed by James Jones - pseudonym "Loose Lips" -- who wished to know my opinion on the problems surrounding the violent episodes that had occurred at Kili's, a local nightclub.

      The delay in my response to the article is because of my relationship in the past with James and my respect for the Washington City Paper as an institution. I wished to express my feelings to James and to the paper first, prior to publicly expressing my concerns. I have had a chance to talk with James and, to be quite frank, am not totally satisfied with his response. To James credit, he apologized for some of my concerns and admitted to being mistaken as to the manner in which he categorized my store. He also stated that a correction would run in the next edition of the City Paper.

      With that being said, let me express my concerns:

      First, I am not quite sure what an African American boutique is. A great deal of time, effort, commitment, energy, and money was committed into opening a fashion forward, trendy, first class boutique that would cater to the demographics of an upwardly mobile, sophisticated, diverse clientele such as exists in the U Street corridor, now being called MIdCity as well. In fact, one condition and promise made to the Ellington, and its owners, Chris Donatelli, Donatelli and Klein, and Nigel and Vance Gragg, Gragg and Associates, was that if given the opportunity, we would open a boutique that would not only be first class, but would be representative of what the Ellington stands for -- dignity and class.

      In addition, this store was to be more than just a clothng store but a living legacy to my son, murdered on U Street at his clothing store in September of 2001.

      When I asked James what his definition of an African American boutique was, his candid reply was that he had not visited our store and he thought it sold African American clothes, with the logic I assume being that by my being African American if I opened a clothing store it must be to sell African American clothing.

      Secondly, and no less importantly, I take offense to the fact that the adjectives "African American and "black" was used twice in two short paragraphs, as if to make the reader well aware that I am not only African American, but to make a conscious effort, it seems, to bolster the position that this African American - me - opposes the position of two other African Americans, Lawrence Guyot and Sinclair Skinner.

      • Kenneth Barnes, who recently opened up an African-American   fashion boutique on U Street, doesn�t fear Graham�s stance on clubs.   Barnes� son, Kenneth Barnes Jr., was murdered in his U Street shop in   2001. The elder Barnes runs an anti-violence group called ROOT and is the   public-safety chair of the U Street Business Association. �I think that Jim is   looking at his constituents, he is looking at the public safety aspects, and   citizens are raising hell about it.�And you want to know something? I don�t   care what color you are, the first thing you think about is being able to walk   down the street without fearing violence.�
      • Barnes, who is African-American, supports the Kili�s   closing. �I�m going to catch some flak about it because it is a   black-owned club, but we�ve have four or five incidents [at   Kili�s], and now they say they want to close you because you�re   black.

      If so, then I need to make quite clear not only my admiration and respect for Jim Graham, but for Lawrence Guyot and Sinclair Skinner as well. Lawrence Guyot was marching for civil rights and putting his life on the line when I was a teenager; Sinclair Skinner is a voice for those voices that in far too many instances go unheard.

      For the most part, I refrain from commentary over the listservs, because I try to look at myself as being somewhat above the fray in most instances and assessing all points of view. However, I felt I must take a stance in this instance, because in matters of public safety, in matters where people are being shot and killed, in matters where our youth and community are at risk, I refuse to compromise, be drawn into political debates, or racial diatribe. It is not a point of taking sides.

      Let me state my opinion as regards Kili's once and for all and use my store as an analogy. If for some reason numerous shootings and violent incidents occur over a period of time as a result of the clothing I am selling, then as an obligation to the community for which I serve I should question my management tactics and reexamine the way I do business. And if I refuse to do so, then I should expect an outcry from citizens living around my establishment, for the city government to react, including police intervention if necessary, to force me do so. That has nothing to do with race. That has everything to do with the right of a community to be safe within its own confines, and for our young people to be able to enjoy themselves without fear of being shot or shot at, and to my being as much concerned about the safety and welfare of my neighborhood as I am to making a profit.



      Kenny Barnes
      Destination U at The Ellington
      1301 U St., NW
      Washington, DC 20001
      t (202) 328-2101
      f (202) 328-2102

      Chair, Public Safety
      MidCity Business Association

      Chair, Public Safety
      Cardozo/Shaw Neighborhood Association (CSNA)

      Chair, Public Safety

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