I'm not conducting anything along the signs of a scientific experiment, mind you, just relying on a 2 1/2 year body of empirical evidence. Whose house have I been invited to? Who greets me from their stoop? Who says hello in the corner bodega? Who makes eye contact at the bus stop? The neighbors that are people of color, that's who. Almost without fail.
So what? Who cares? Well, I think this behavior gets to a larger conversation about what it means when a neighborhood "gentrifies" (a term I'm not totally confident in using about my 'hood, which saw it's share of tough times but was never a bad place to live) and new people - white, wealthier, younger - invade what were often traditionally Black or Hispanic neighborhoods. You see it happen in DC all the time, and we're not the exception. Harlem in New York, Pilsen in Chicago - both have experienced similar "white in-flight" and the concomitant neighborly attitudes that go with that.
I don't know how to force people to greet one another on the sidewalk. And after being ignored multiple times by any particular person, I just give up. I will continue to work to build stronger relationships with those neighbors who are friendly and who do respond to a simple "hello." And let's be honest - I'm smack in the middle of the demographic I'm talking about: young, white, relative newcomer to the 'hood. So the least I can try to do is set a good example for my incommunicado brethren.
Is it so hard to say "hi"? For some, I guess so.