Here’s to the home of the brave / Here’s to the life that is saved

harlem.jpg

Yes­ter­day we went to 125th and Lex­ing­ton, famous. of course, for the line in Lou’s “Wait­ing For My Man”. We walked from there west­wards towards the Apol­lo.

In Harlem the two most famous streets, which cross in the cen­tre of the dis­trict are the afore­men­tioned 125th and Lenox. As a rev­er­en­tial nod to some of the nation’s most illus­tri­ous Black names, 125th also car­ries the name Mar­tin Luther Boule­vard , whilst Lenox is Mal­colm X Boule­vard . Oth­er local streets are named after Fred­er­ick Dou­glass and Adam Clay­ton Pow­ell.

But it’s the meet­ing of the first two which has the most res­o­nance and it’s quite some­thing to stand at the inter­sec­tion of the two names. You real­ly do feel hum­bled.

But even more so when you walk down 125th and see Oba­ma. Not the man him­self of course, but the face, the words, the images and every­thing else. This place is thor­ough­ly Oba­ma-ized and, as much as we under­stand how big this thing was / is, you real­ly need to wan­der through a place like Harlem to feel just how much res­o­nance and empow­er­ment the elec­tion of a black man, and a proud­ly black fam­i­ly has to these folks and the his­to­ry and momen­tum sig­ni­fied in the names attached to these few streets…some of which still draw the ire and ter­ri­fy some ele­ments of the tra­di­tion­al pow­er struc­ture. You sim­ply don’t under­stand it from TV and the media, either online or writ­ten. It’s fuck­ing huge and I sim­ply don’t know the words to express it so I’ll leave these two images to speak instead, as they say more than I ever real­ly could.

The first is just a very small part of a huge wall in Harlem where folks can write their hopes for the man’s first 100 days..this part from one school class:

A Wall in Harlem

A dress in 125th

The oth­er thing that’s struck me is that the old white men seem to have turned already, though, and with quite a vengeance. The DC estab­lish­ment is fight­ing back and McCain and Cheney, and the Mur­doch media are firm­ly on the attack. They have to be I guess, as they don’t have much else left right now, but see­ing McCain mum­bling on, on CNN domes­tic or Rush on Fox, then putting that against the tone you see and the words you her every­where on the street, at least in NYC, either these guys still don’t quite get it or are in com­plete denial. Or, most like­ly, a mix of both.

There is, nat­u­ral­ly, regard­less of that, a small but tan­gi­ble (and inevi­tiable) drop off in the Oba­ma sheen, most­ly because of his mis­steps on con­fir­ma­tions and some pub­lic unease on parts of the stim­u­lus bill before Con­gress. You hear folks talk­ing about these things if you let your ears wan­der in the din­ers, as I’m apt to. I’m not try­ing to be nosy, I just wan­na know what’s being said out there on the street, or at least the very small part of it I’m in.

It fas­ci­nates.

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