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A person, a photo, a story
This Week:
Kayla on Escaping the District

“I have never lived in a place that is as cliquey as D.C. The first question people ask you is, ‘What hood are you from?’ That is how people understand this city. And, if you are walking around in a place that is not your hood, people will let you know.

“Now, I guess you can say that Mom and I live in Saratoga. That is our hood. Originally, we are from Seattle, but we moved here six years ago when my parents got divorced. My Mom wanted a new start and a place to go to school, so we came out here. Being out here was a big change for me. We started in Virginia and it took me a lot of time to feel comfortable and make friends. Once I did, I became a real social butterfly. You could run into anybody and they would tell you that they were going to or coming from my house. That really was the happiest time in my life. Then I moved to D.C.

“My Mom wanted me to go to Duke Ellington School of the Arts. The thing is that if you live in Maryland or Virginia, it is crazy expensive to go there. I didn’t want to go, but my Mom made me because I got accepted. I had no choice really. We moved into the city and I started at Duke. After two-and-a-half years, I left. I want to be a lawyer and focus on academics, and wasn’t so into all of the art stuff. I came to HD Woodson, which was another huge change for me.

“People think that D.C. public schools are all dangerous and terrible. I don’t see it like that. There are people here who want to help us go to college. My plan, if I can find the money, is to go to Spelman and then go to law school.

“Until then, I will keep going to school and spending as much time as I can out of the District. While people in my hood finally recognize me and know that I belong, I miss my life and friends back in Virginia. This D.C. environment just isn’t for me. I try and escape whenever I can. My Mom understands and that’s why she lets me do it. She doesn’t like it either, but it is what we can afford. So, it is what we have to do until I can leave for college.”


“Danny Harris is a DC-based photographer and collector of stories. In September, he launchedPeople’s District, a blog that tells a people’s history of DC by sharing the stories and images of its residents. Every day, People’s District presents a different Washingtonian sharing his or her insights on everything from Go Go music to homelessness to fashion to politics. Every Thursday he’ll share a favorite story with us”