Feasting On Harlem

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If you’d like to join, come out on Monday, May 5th, from 6-9’ock at Melba’s Restaurant on 8TH Avenue at 114th Street. Inez Dickens is hosting a fundraiser, so that the real estate bandits can thank her.
Unhappy Harlem protesters, who helped to elect her, promise to be there to greet them.

[Notes From The Frontlines]

Compared to most of the country, even if early 21st century New York city remains too stratified, it’s still far more cosmopolitan than most other communities.

Just consider, for example, the profusion of authentic ethnic restaurants found in Queens, or the excellent and inexpensive jazz clubs of Harlem. Whenever we choose, emerging from some new subway stop, we can enrich our lives by engaging a wide variety of people and cultural experiences, largely unavailable elsewhere.

Oddly enough, the more we encounter different kinds of people, the more we become familiar with our common humanity, good and bad. Living in New York helps to give one a new perspective on the value of the golden rule. “But, alas!,” warns a friend, “Unless something affects you directly, you’re unlikely to genuinely care about it or get involved.”

Peter Hellman, once New York Magazine’s leading journalist, now writes about wine for The Sun. Talking-over the Passover dinner we recently shared with his neighbors the Epsteins, we drifted into a conversation about the Holocaust. In a recent TV documentary, an Auschwitz survivor speculates, ‘that she was spared to bare witness‘, to lend her voice to others warning that evil so horrifying ought never to be allowed to happen again.

Just what does “never again” mean? Pessimistically, Peter and I conclude that man’s basest inhumanity reoccurs all the time. Slavery, human trafficking and genocide flourish daily.

It’s dinner time. We watch CNN shocked as a starving mother offers cakes, baked from fine sand and butter, to her small children. They eat ravenously and we’re distressed. Yet, not-with-standing the weight we’ve put on in middle age, we eat heartily too.

No, it’s not that we’re unconcerned, but preoccupied and uncertain of what effective action we might take. What’s more, we’re without exemplary leadership.

It’s like this regarding the rezoning of 125thStreet in Harlem as well. One by one, bit, by bit, the amazing thousand unique enclaves composing our beloved metropolis, are assaulted by the prospect of unwanted, unwise and discriminatory change. So far, franticly trying to just get by, we’ve failed to join forces to confront our overwhelming enemy. Soon, before it’s too late, we must!

By now you’ve heard about how the river-to-river rezoning was approved by the City Council--- 47-to-2. Members Avella and Charles Barron, were the heroes of the day. So were a fiery group 50 Harlemites. Young, old, Black, White, Latino, straight, gay---- they angrily and loudly jeered as a pre-selected cheering section applauded the sealing of Harlem’s fate.

Doing her best to sound like Angela Davis, Council Member Inez Dickens, tried to spin the dirty deed as fulfillment of her promise to deliver jobs and greater opportunity to her district. Robert Jackson, stung to be lustily dismissed by the protesters as “an Uncle Tom sell-out, ” demanded that a visibly shaken Speaker, Christine Quinn, “ clear the balcony!” Routinely, the media have highlighted how crucial their support was. Without it, the zoning would have failed.

What’s gone unreported mostly, is how, as with people, area-wide, this issue is related to every other similar issue. For all the talk of compromises and new “affordable housing,” as outlined by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden, the city government’s zoning policies, amount to little more than social engineering, meant to benefit the rich and resettle the poor.

Whether at Atlantic Yards, on the Lower East Side or the Hunt’s Point waterfront, such displacement is immoral. Paris without Parisians, Chinatown without Chinese, New Orleans or Harlem without Blacks, both culturally and economically are absurd and unsustainable. Whenever it happens, wherever it occurs, the concept that people with more money better deserve to live where you or I live, is nothing short of a kind of terrorism of the establishment.

Like the brother in Claude McKay’s poem, If We Must Die, I, for one, will not go quietly or without a fight.

If you’d like to join, come out on Monday, May 5th, from 6-9’ock at Melba’s Restaurant on 8TH Avenue at 114th Street. Inez Dickens is hosting a fundraiser, so that the real estate bandits can thank her.

Unhappy Harlem protesters, who helped to elect her, promise to be there to greet them.



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Milton@blackstarnews.com


Also visit out sister publications Harlem Business News www.harlembusinessnews.com publications and The Groove Music magazine www.thegroovemag.com


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