Published on 13th July 2016 by

Washington Go-Go (2010): A stone’s throw from the White House, the angry beats of a new music genre define the real people of Washington. Black, poor, crushed by crime and drugs, and losing faith in Obama’s promise of change.

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“You know they call DC the chocolate city and go-go is the soundtrack”, Natalie Hopkinson says. Go-Go is the “heartbeat” of the community’s identity, a constant in an ever-changing political landscape. It blares out on street corners, pumps out of cars, grim lyrics set against raucous beats. “We breathe it. We bleed it”, Ali, a Go-Go band leader says. But many think Go-Go has a dark side, a link with violence and criminality. Ali himself used to sell cocaine on the streets, just a short bus ride from the White House. He talks of a world where death is the norm, bullets a part of life, drugs a regular sight. The authorities on the other side of the city are tackling the “Go-Go problem”, but the community who live the music see it as a solution, not a cause. Former major Marion Barry is a giant on these streets, an inspiration long before Obama entered the White House. He sees the divide between the two sides of the city deepening, “it’s getting worse”. The community look to Obama to heal the rift and in many ways, Go-Go music has become a symbol of hope, identity and much-needed pride while they wait for the President to deliver his promises of change.

ABC Australia – Ref. 4928

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