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Morning Poll: Have you ever been treated as if you didn’t belong in your neighborhood?

Duplexes in Westover (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

An article this week about an arguably historic, 70-year-old mansion in Arlington possibly being set for demolition had a subplot that could have been a story all on its own.

From Charlie Clark, reporting in the Falls-Church News Press (emphasis ours):

The purchasers, Mustaq Hamza and Amanda Maldonado, said in interviews, however, that so far their experience in the neighborhood has been unpleasant, in part because of the county’s current divisions over the just-enacted Missing Middle zoning reform. That has led them to question what they say was their original goal of replacing the old home with their own “forever house.”

Hamza, 38, an entrepreneur who was raised in Fairfax County and is a Muslim of Sri Lankan descent, and wife Malodonado, a Puerto Rican-American currently raising their two children, both say they have encountered “vitriol” and “hostility” from neighbors who cut through the property and ask questions that imply “You owe us an explanation of what you’re going to do with the house.” Hamza interprets at least some of this as a reaction to his skin color, leading him to rethink. “I’m not sure I want to be in a place that doesn’t want me or people who sound like me.” It seems some neighbors, adds Maldonado, assume that he must be an agent or a worker “who couldn’t possibly be the owner.” Some promised to fight his plans.

The article then take another turn, going on to say that Maldonado found anti-Missing Middle housing signage in the neighborhood offensive.

“Maldonado, the daughter of a teacher, said she is ‘offended that some people would be appalled at living next to townhouses for teachers.'” Clark reported.

Putting the rezoning issue aside, ARLnow has previously been made aware of possible profiling incidents in predominantly white Arlington neighborhoods.

There was a Black woman — a new mother — who recently moved to a North Arlington neighborhood. She was pushing a stroller on a walk when someone asked if she was a nanny.

There was a Hispanic man who was out on a walk in his neighborhood while wearing pajamas. Someone emailed the neighborhood listserv in a concerned tone, saying she did not recognize him and implying that his presence was suspicious. She was eventually informed that the man did, in fact, live in the neighborhood.

There have been other scattered reports over the years of people living in Arlington neighborhoods being made to feel unwelcome by off-handed comments from neighbors, postings on Nextdoor, etc. Some of those have been racial in nature, others about having different political or religious beliefs. There might not be ill intent, but the effect is nonetheless felt.

For today’s morning poll, we’re wondering if you have ever been made to feel unwelcome in an Arlington neighborhood for one reason or another.

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Our keynote speaker this year is Symone Sanders from MSNBC and former Chief of Staff for Vice-President Kamala Harris.

The Master of Ceremonies is Joshua Cole, former state delegate, NAACP President, and local pastor.

Tickets/seating are limited. Purchase your ticket today! Sponsorship opportunities available.

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Live standup comedy starring John F. O’Donnell (Comedy Central)
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Headliner: John F. O’Donnell

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