Public service

Public service is the vehicle for transforming the personal traumas of Trayvon White and others

By Cara Williams,
Special at AFRO

Council member Trayon White Sr., 38, was born in Ward 8, where he serves today. White’s roots in Southeast DC have helped him appreciate both the beauty and the challenges faced by residents of Ward 8 and prepared him to champion one of the toughest residents and neighborhoods. poor in the city.

White, whose grandmother raised him after his father abandoned the family, had encounters with law enforcement but credited the mentorship of Soul Factory’s Chrissy Anderson. White also thanked former DC Mayor Marion Barry for not being sucked into a life of crime.

“For me, it was about falling and getting up again and again,” White said in a recent interview.

“It was about navigating the waters and not falling prey to gun violence and the prison system,” he continued.

Council Member White is a graduate of Ballou Senior High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

As White witnessed violence in his community, he followed Mayor Barry’s teachings and used violence to bring communities together.

White’s sustained efforts, in the office of Attorney General Karl Racine as a community development specialist, made him see that youth organizations and coaching little league football were not enough. This was to prevent the young men he framed from being killed.

After hearing about five young men involved in his football league being killed in DC between 2004 and 2006, White decided there was more work to be done.

“Coaching football is not enough; we need to do more for our black boys beyond sports,” White said in a 2022 interview.

The South Capitol Massacre, the 2010 brazen shootings that killed three youths in Southeast DC, and his love for his community motivated White to serve through political involvement.

White supports several programs to help the community with affordable housing, education, health care disparities, and public safety.

In 2019, he introduced the “East of the River High-Risk Travel Prevention Services Fund Act, 2019”. The bill helps improve housing conditions and crack down on evictions, it also supports tenant associations and expands help in preventing foreclosures.

To stifle gentrification in Ward 8, White plans to rehabilitate dilapidated DC homes and offer people facing housing disparities the opportunity to enjoy a better quality of life.

“We need to rethink how DC spends on the Housing Production Trust Fund,” White said.

While serving on the Board of Education, White participated in the grand opening of the new Ballou High School in 2013.

He also created (HICKS), Helping Inner City Kids Succeed, which provided training on youth engagement and prevention activities.

“The biggest influence on a young person is another young person,” White said.

White’s vision for quality health care and mental health awareness includes her experience with trauma.

“Every Wednesday at 8 a.m. I sit down in front of my therapist on zoom to address the trauma I experienced as a young black man burying 258 people in my community,” White said.

Council member White acknowledged that the quality of health care was lower in his community. So he didn’t just want to build a hospital; he wanted to create a health care system.

“A system that works for ordinary people,” White said.

Seeing the trauma in his community, White was part of a coalition of city councilors guiding plans to build the new Cedar Hill Regional Medical Center. This new facility, located on the grounds of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Ward 8, opened in February.

But, with all the Council member’s good intentions and accomplishments, there has also been controversy.

As a young council member, White admits he sometimes speaks “lightly,” which has cost him dearly.

In 2018, White made an anti-Semitic comment that cost him personally and politically.

“You better watch out for that weather control, man, that weather manipulation. And DC keeps talking about, “We’re a resilient city.” And it’s a model based on the Rothschilds controlling the weather to create natural disasters that they can pay to own the cities, man. Be careful.”

—Trayon White Sr., March 16, 2018

White, who had a long-standing relationship with the Jews for Justice organization, did not immediately understand the depth of his comment. But with the help of the organization, he understood his need to learn the history of the Jewish faith and the statements made against them.

“I didn’t mean to be anti-Semitic, and I see that I shouldn’t have said that after learning from my colleagues,” White said.

“Growing up as a young man in Ward 8, I had no idea what anti-Semitism was,” White said. “As a leader, I should be held accountable,” he offered.

White apologized to the Jewish community, and while some have forgiven, White’s comments remain problematic for others.

Phillip Pannell, executive director of the Anacostia Coordinating Council, said: “Even in the face of the most heartfelt apologies, people can forgive, but they won’t forget.”

Whiter says her passion for housing, education, public safety and health comes from a personal understanding of trauma. It focuses on building schools, jobs, prosperity, and public safety that build safe and stable neighborhoods for all Washingtonians.

“There is an 81% wealth gap between white and black Americans in DC and that needs to change; don’t stand there, do something,” White said.

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