Cynthia's Reviews > Harlem is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America

Harlem is Nowhere by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts
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's review
Jan 06, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: books-read-in-2011
Read from January 06 to 09, 2011

I was amazed to learn Harlem’s iconographic identity only surged into existence around the beginning of the 20th century when African-Americans from many parts of the country and world showed up in large numbers. They were some of the best and brightest and most determined people of their day, determined to make an impact.

In the 1900’s Harlem seemed to have no center but was made up of a vast number of cultures and traditions all blending and hitting against themselves. At its core it was dynamically creative; that was its commonality. These few blocks carved out of the Manhattan Island gave birth to scads of writers, all types of artists, political thinkers. The people were created by their environment just as much as they designed their neighborhood. Maybe in some ways neither people nor place created the other. The place and the people allowed one another to create them(it)self. Place, time and humanity exploded and Harlem as a place and as an idea was born. And we’re all the better for it.

As a young writer Rhodes-Pitts moves north from her home state of Texas and begins to absorb Harlem. She does her research but finds more questions than answers, she goes to political meetings and becomes overwhelmed with all the divergent thinking and causes, she stands on the streets watching the many parades, demonstrations, the neighborhood’s ever changing spew of notices, sidewalk graffiti, etc. She talks to the residents both the long and short term ones, she goes to funerals, she talks with the unique street people that only Harlem could have. I love how she doesn’t come to any hard conclusions but let’s herself be awash in the mythology of this place. She doesn’t squash out it’s legends by trying to pin down a one dimensional Harlem which would have sapped it of blood. She allows it to stay ever changing and vibrant by letting its beauty and seediness continually recreate itself.

This review was based on an ebook galley supplied by the publisher.
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Reading Progress

01/06/2011 page 60
10/08/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Mary Ronan (new)

Mary Ronan Drew This looks like it could be really good. Is it?

Cynthia So far it is. Lots of history.

message 3: by Mary Ronan (new)

Mary Ronan Drew Sounds like a book full of variety and anecdote.

message 4: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Interesting review, Cynthia!

message 5: by Rose (new)

Rose Great review!

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