By Delia Goncalves
May 18, 2016
WASHINGTON — Alternative Rocker PJ Harvey calls her song "Community of Hope" but residents say her unfair depictions of Wards 7 and 8 show a community in despair.
The video opens up with a driving tour of Southeast. British songwriter, PJ Harvey, peaks out of the backseat window while being driven through what many say are the roughest parts of town.
She pulls no punches and folks say some blows hit below the belt, including lyrics that describe South Capitol as the “highway to death and destruction” and “okay, now this is just drug town, just zombies.”
“That’s just not real when you essentially do what amount to an artist drive by that you’re going to get the complexity that makes up our community,” said Terrence Nicholson.
Nicholson is the cultural programs coordinator at the Anacostia arts center, a ward 8 native and a musician himself.
“As someone who’s traveled, I’ve never gotten the essence and flavor of a place without leaving the trappings of the band,” he explained.
"There are some big challenges but we get to be part of voice and solution and that’s very encouraging,” said Leah Garrett.
Garrett works at the REAL Community of Hope off South Capitol Street. The 35-year-old non-profit serves about 9,800 people with medical needs and helped more than 600 families with housing last year.
She wrote an open letter to PJ Harvey saying in part “our neighbors struggling with drugs aren’t zombies they are living, breathing feeling humans.” “Their choice to be resilient, their choice to be strong is what’s encouraging to us,” she said.
“It’s like saying a dead town,” added one Terry Boone, “we’re not a dead town; we’re alive around here.”
As for Nicholson, he has advice for PJ Harvey, from one artist to another. “Take a week or two off, ride the A4 bus, walk up and down Good Hope Road and maybe remix the song,” he said laughing.
We are still waiting to hear back from PJ Harvey or her record label.