Metropolitan Policy Center’s Urban Speaker Series featuring 

Coming ‘Home’ to Cappuccino City: Gentrification and Reentry in the Nation’s Capital

(Details below)

Wednesday, April 6, 2022, 5:30PM - 7:00PM (ET)

American University, Kerwin Hall, Room 301


Historically Black communities in Washington, DC have made up the fabric of its economy, government, and culture since its founding. However, over the last 15 years gentrification has displaced over 20,000 Black DC residents. At the same time, young Black men from these communities have been swept up by the criminal legal system and incarcerated at disproportionate rates. Displacement and mass incarceration have worked in conjunction as punitive responses to increased poverty and neglect by state institutions in working class communities. Now due to recent reforms, high numbers of these men are being released after serving 10 or more years in Federal Bureau of Prison facilities around the nation due to federal control of DC’s prison system. But what happens when returning citizens come “home” to an unfamiliar place due to the gentrification and resulting transformation of DC? This event is a timely conversation based on the dissertation research of AU student Maya Kearney on the intersections of prisoner reentry and gentrification in DC. The reentry experiences of two DC returning citizens will be put in conversation with MPC director Derek Hyra’s study of Shaw and U Street gentrification in his book Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City. Moderated by Ms. Kearney, “Coming ‘Home’ to Cappuccino City '' will explore how reentry collides with gentrification as returning citizens seek to reestablish a sense of place and belonging.


Maya S. Kearney is a socio-cultural and urban anthropologist, specializing in urban ethnographic methodologies, carceral studies, and urban policy and spatial transformation. She has done extensive research on mass incarceration and its impact on Black families and communities within the Washington, DC local context by exploring the needs and challenges of prisoner reentry. Her work examines how the processes of gentrification serve as an extension of the carceral state through the cultural experiences of returning citizens when navigating the DC housing landscape upon release. Her work centers community-based participatory research (CBPR) where she has organized and presented at events that bring together scholars and community organizations to facilitate dialogue and critical engagement around issues surrounding prisoner reentry. She views housing and carcerality through a place-based lens utilizing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to understand the spatial patterns of gentrification and how this impacts the housing options available to returning citizens and their families.