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Harlem Renaissance Revisited

January 10, 2010

Via Postbourgie

I don’t mean to belittle the historical and cultural significance of Harlem to African-Americans, it was a haven to many as they sought opportunities in the north, the only neighborhood they had heard of when word traveled south that there were jobs in New York City, and black owned businesses that didn’t live in fear. However, the Harlem Renaissance was not a socio-economic movement, but a discreet collection of artists who lived in Harlem. We are grateful for their legacy, but they all were not homeowners.

TNC has a great post up on gentrification. This in particular struck me.

It’s not merely being treated as an equation, it’s the notion that African-Americans are a group who do not act, but are only acted upon. […] It’s sociology as pornography. It pictures black America as a kind of machine programmed only to move when prompted by A.) racism B.) cultural pathology.

There was a time in my life, when it was just understood that neighborhoods were getting gentrified and this was bad. (lived in DC for 3 years). Never mind that I loved U street and Adams Morgan. But there was an underlying resentment of Georgetown-esque coffeeshops and pubs mining the local immigrant and black culture without seeming to give it space exactly. I think that problem still exists. It do think these communities were pushed into pockets of here-and-there, to make room for umm… us.. me. But it’s a complicated problem, and I certainly have no idea what tail end is which.

But go read TNC’s post. It makes smart, sharp points all over.

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