“When you tell almost anybody from almost anywhere that Harlem USA will soon be no more you are met with disbelief. But even harder to believe is the dignity with which the black folk who have called it their home for almost a hundred years bear their loss and the wisdom with which they express their sorrow. Harlem USA is the collective production that this community has created.”
Harlem USA is what happened when the subjects of a documentary came together “… to have a voice, to let the world know, just how it is between 110th Street and 155th Street, from the East Side to the West Side.” Harlem USA is a testament to the amazing African-American oral tradition still alive and well in the midst of institutionalised America.
I went to the premier of the screening on the 27th of June at The Ritzy, brixton and the second the anguished voice of a Harlem native fills the blackness of the cinema you are captivated. Immediately we are brought into a struggle that many do not know exist-the gentrification of Harlem. The stories, and the disaffection are told straight from the mouths of the victims, made even more complicated by a simmering racial tension that dangerously, is seeming to come to a boil, with the influx of new apartments with gentrification. Unknowingly, we begin to feel the injustice, the fustration of the inhabitants of Harlem. The suble hints of racism, the bitter irony of the fact that those who want to live in Harlem seem to fear her very inhabitants.
Watch the haunting, but captivating trailer here ;
Notably, one man in the film-most vocal about his anger- cites the “Jim Crow” laws as reference for the situation in Harlem. Jim Crow Laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated racial segregation in all public facilities in Southern states of the former Confederacy, with, starting in 1890, a “separate but equal” status for black Americans. A misleading term on most accounts, that only barely sugar coated a clear prejudice.
“In 15 years..Harlem (as we know it) will be gone…Harlem is a beast..” such quotes resonate profoundly throughout the film, giving a chilling premonition of what will become of the thriving tight-knit community, of creativity, history and culture if the infiltration of city developers continues.
The next showing is on the 2nd July at Ingenious 15 Golden Square W1F 9JG London United Kingdom
Monday, July 2, 2012 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM. To get tickets click on this link meweharlemusa.eventbrite.com/
It is definitely, an educational, enthralling, and profound watch I would recommend.by