Stripping Away our Culture- But will we take action?

Sometimes as you walk down the gritty streets you can still hear the sounds of the drums playing and the streets filled with vendors ready to sale you whatever they got. But what use to be...

What use to be a place where people would go to the Savoy Ballroom and you could hear the sounds of Jazz and watch people as they swing dance away...


It use to be a place where the careers of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and James Brown launched their careers at the Apollo theater

It use to be a place where Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman, and Zora Neale Hurston would sit on the corner of 125th and talk about what their next literary piece would be about.

It use to be a place where you could pick up a magazine or newspaper and read the articles in the Crisis, Opportunity, the Messenger, or Negro World, that had contributors such as Du Bois and Marcus Garvey.

It us to be a place that would lay the foundation for the Civil Rights Movement.

It use to be a place where great leaders such as Malcolm X would speak on the Black Revolution.


As we struggle to hold on....

Its still a place where on 125th you can still find Black Entrepreneurs and small Black businesses.

Its still a place where you can see Black people bbqing in the parks and music playing as old and young join in song and dance.

Its still a place where vendors come out and sale anything they can to make a living.

Its still a place where you can hear the sounds of drums and horns being played on the corners of every block.

Its still a place where you can find Black people listening to Jazz and eating Soul Food at places such as the Den and Spoon Bread.

But what will it become....


I was having a conversation with some friends the other day and my friend Chanelle told us that she got a chance to talk to some older Blacks on her block that had been residents of Harlem for years. They talked about what Harlem use to be like, and the rich history that came out of their mouth was mind blowing.

The next day I couldn't stop thinking about the stories that Chanelle told us and as I walked down Lenox Avenue my stomach begin to hurt. I could see that the usual faces were disappearing and the block was slowly changing. What use to be a place where Black culture was strong, is now a place that is being stripped of everything that it once was. I recently heard that new residences are protesting about the sounds of the local marching bands and are gradually demanding change.

Gentrification is not only causing us to lose the places where we lay our heads, but also somehow taking away the essence of who we are. As Harlem slowly changes its residences from White to Black, some of the older Blacks will be able to hold on to their memories of what Harlem use to be.

The younger generation will rely on History books, movies and stories left behind from their grand parents, but they will not be able to have their own experiences. With a race that already feels like they lack identity, taking away what they do have becomes detrimental to their growth in society.


So what do we do? My friend Chanelle came up with an excellent plan and I will share that with yall later.

But what ideas can we come up with that will preserve our history and keep Harlem, along with other rich Black neighborhoods, ours?

Lets Brainstorm...You comment and leave an idea and together we will make a plan.



Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

u got good taste in music folk

The Socialite said...

I try folk!

Soopa Starr said...

Gentrification is really sad. I grew up in Harlem in the 80s and 90s. I no longer live there, but I frequent a lot and I get enraged when I see how it's changing and cutting out the people who made it what it is. It really sux.

But on a side note, I love me some Billie, Ella and Sarah Vaughn and Duke Ellington. Man, don't get me started!

freemanpress said...

You got to let it go because buildings where people sing is not who we are. There isn't a Jewish historical area that they try to keep because who they are isn't confined to some old place in the past.

We didn't lose anything because it's just a bunch of bricks. Harlem is bunch of low brow places to eat, and bootleggers, and crack addicts. You should be way more sad about that than watching BS talent come out of the Apollo.

That time is dead and gone and we should move on.

The Socialite said...

I don't think its the buildings where we sing that matters. Its just like when we had "negro wall street", and the riots came through and messed them up. These are areas where black people thrived. Yes I think that we can do this in other areas and do not have to be confined to one area, but I do think it is imporant to not keep getting kicked out of the areas that we build up. Other races don't get kicked out of areas, if they leave, they choose to leave. So as Black people we need to learn how to take care of what we build up. Also no, Jewish people might not have buildings that we know of, but they have nieghborhoods that they have completly taken over for years, and continue to do so. They have their own businesses in these areas and everything.

Singing, the arts, hip hop, this is part of our culture. These buildings where is happened, is where our success began. The need to be kept up and used for the same thing.

The point is that I don't want anyone else coming in and kicking us out.

I am very concerned about the crack heads and bootleggers, but kicking us out of Harlem isn't going to do anything but start it up in another area. That isn't the answer.

ShAĆ© - ShAĆ© said...

The roots have been stripped layer by layer. I think Amerikka is afraid of our roots.

The Socialite said...

I know! I think the trick is to make them forget about where they came from and who they are. They figure if they do that to us, we can slowly be more under their control! If we dont know who we are and where we come from, then people are able to make us think we are something else!

goddess said...

i hope we can take control and maitain Harlem's identity!! said...

That gentrification is everywhere. I gave a lecture today on Blacks in Houston and the hip hop culture there. The last item I mentioned to students was that gentrification is occurring in the historically Black communities. I go back to the neighborhood that my father grew up in and where I lived for half my life and its no longer familiar. Because of the high rises and condos, I feel like an outsider in my own community. Furthermore, I wonder about the poor folks who are getting their homes and livelihoods snatched. Where are they going? How are they living? Its a shame. Great post.

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