Good evening folks. I hope all is well with those reading this. A word about Lenox Lounge closing, and Black businesses in Harlem in general. There is this narrative out there that “Harlemites fiddled while this all occured” and that “Harlem residents allowed this to happen” and it is no one’s fault but their own. That is the key thing about narratives, is that they on the surface, make a little sense to the observer, or the repeater. Which is why they gain traction. However, lets examine it, and see if it makes sense.
First off, the Harlem that was available for every resident to own a brownstone for one dollar never existed. Without getting into a longwinded, historical post, It is a gross oversimplification, at best. Second, what is typically happening to these businesses are that rents are being doubled on business owners by real estate companies who wish to charge more. If some real estate agent came along and told you your rent was now doubled, would that be a problem for you to make? If not, you need to donate to Staten Island and the Rockaways. If you are like most people, then it would force you out.
And this, in a nutshell is part of what is happening in Harlem. Whatever narrative you hear about Harlem being “revitalized” or “turning around” is a glossed over one.
Marc W. Polite
Represents the “Old Harlem”