I was visiting a friend in Harlem this morning and we took a walk
around the newest neighborhood in the city to be going chic. Very
chic. Already now it is probably the most integrated area in the city
and, believe me, it had nothing to do with Bill Clinton moving in. I
knew Harlem was in the midst of a real revival when my good friend
Henry Louis (Skip) Gates Jr. said he wanted to buy a brownstone in the
area. Some of this movement can be traced to the rich programs for
school kids that have been going on there for a decade and more. Much
of it also can be traced to the movement of youngish white
professionals and the new stratum of upwardly mobile, ethnically and
racially undefined people.
What will happen to the folk inevitably displaced by this demographic movement into the new Harlem? They will not be left behind. They will move (or be moved) to the Bronx.
Of course, much of old Harlem lingers on. Well, "lingers" is not exactly the word I want. What I to convey is that part of Harlem that persists, like a bronchial infection.
For example, that block of "title eight" or "title whatever" housing that is named after Woodrow Wilson. Yes, there are other apartment complexes named after Herbert Lehman and Robert Taft. But they were senators who fought for public housing, dehumanizingly ugly as these projects are. But Wilson? Yes, a president of the United States. But a racist president of the United States. Why?
There's another form of patronizing the locals in Harlem, and it is in the form of election posters. Strictly speaking, election posters are altogether superfluous. After all, it's not just Harlem; it's also New York. Obama will win very big. But voting is an act of citizenship, and acts of citizenship in our society are in short supply.
So what's my beef? The posters are for Barack Obama and Charles Rangel. OK.
But this is how the posters are designed:
What is going on here? Maybe it's just that Rangel's ego is so huge that he thinks he's the draw.