BY Angela Helm
Bye-bye, black Harlem, glad I knew ye. Hello, Whole Foods, I do enjoy your products, but if you can gentrify greens, what chance do we really have?
I first moved to Harlem in 1998. I was a young single mother in graduate school with a 2-year-old. Harlem offered me respite, refuge and safety in blackness and an affordable apartment in a doorman building. For me, after working downtown or going to New York University and being picked apart by microaggressions, Harlem was a place where I could blend in and relax. Take off the mask and just be.
Where some people saw violence, I saw community. Where others saw pathology, I glimpsed my reflection in the shiny faces of little girls in cornrows and big teeth. I heard my tongue in snatches of passed conversation, and tasted my culture from the old men who sold collard greens and watermelons on the corner. And there was always music, sweet music, coming from its very pores.