Dear Mr. Gray,
I watched a video on NBC4 (Scroll below to watch the video) of you visiting a neighborhood in an effort to stop the sale of drug paraphernalia. Though I commend the spirit of your visit, I was very much disappointed and baffled by your interaction with the Ethiopian shopkeeper.
Your visit changed its face from that of inspecting law to that of ignorance when you started speaking to the shopkeeper, who obviously had no clue of what you were talking about, in a tone he didn’t deserve to be spoken to.
It got me thinking, that either you have not paid attention or haven’t been made aware of the changes in your own neighborhood. If I need to remind you, you are living in the heart of a city that is the melting point of many cultures and nationalities. Need I also remind you that there are more than a hundred thousand people in DC alone who speak the language the shopkeeper spoke? Or that his language is actually the third official language of DC? The least you could have done was take a translator with you. The fact that you didn’t just tells me that you are ignorant of the environment and demography you’re trying to administer.
Maybe you need to pay more visits to your own neighborhood – not only to inspect and enact laws but to also understand the very people of which you are a mayor!
And in your interview you also stated that your being culturally insensitive isn’t a huge issue. Wrong again, Mayor, it is a huge deal. In fact, it took from your noble purpose of inspecting legal drugs. In this day of heated discussions about cultural and racial insensitivity, maybe you should consider your action and examine your stereotyping and presuppositions. No, Mayor, not everybody that calls USA home, speaks English very fluently. And when spoken to with the kind of tone you used, the limited English they communicate with doesn’t come naturally.
In all your presuppositions that he understood your language, the shopkeeper kept a polite attitude and even apologized for not understanding you. He needed no apologies! He is a legal resident who’s trying to live the American dream the best way he knows how. He doesn’t need mistreatment from the person perhaps he elected, to represent him. I believe you owe him a huge apology!
And the next time you pay a visit to your neighborhood, please be sensitive to the history and culture of those around you; that is equally, if not more important than what you set out to do that night!