By John L. Jackson Jr.
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Additional info for Harlemworld: Doing Race and Class in Contemporary Black America
MAKING HARLEM BLACK 43 The Latino presence in Harlem is important because Harlem's lore is often offered up as a multicultural one, as a minoritarian community that easily accommodates other people of color within its diasporic folds. Botanicas and bodegas line the streets. Caribbean cuisine is bought and sold.
Everything white folks got-money, diamonds, all of that-they don't have a Harlem anywhere. And you can't buy it, either-and they trying. But money can't make a Harlem, and that is why they will never get this place. It belongs to the same poor black people they trying to kill off and lock up. What they say about Harlem is they own lies. Damon's invocations of what people are saying about Harlem is a direct indictment of the media's portrayal of this place: a crime-riddled, MAKING HARLEM BLACK 39 seething black slum that is the scapegoat for demagogues on all sides trying to leverage the rhetorical power of the symbolic black world.
There are days when Bernice threatens to leave Harlem herself, arguing that she needs to take her degree and parlay it into something substantial down in rural North Carolina, away from all the crime and craziness of the big city. Maybe if she could move to a Harlem block that has "a little more organization" she might have an incentive to stick around. The internal divisions that carve Harlem into differently organized and understood neighborhoods also inform how people represent the place to outsiders.