Harlem is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts - review by Daniel Matlin

Daniel Matlin

Across 110th Street

Harlem is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America

By

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Soon after arriving in Harlem in 2002, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts overheard a conversation between two white men in one of the neighbourhood’s smart new cafés. One of the men, like Rhodes-Pitts herself, had recently moved into the area, while his friend seemed to be visiting for the first time. ‘This is fabulous,’ the visitor enthused. ‘Really, you have to do something to get the word out. There need to be more people up here!’

For nearly half a century, Harlem was considered off-limits by white Americans, a morass of decay, violence, racial resentment and poverty. The same year that Rhodes-Pitts arrived, I took the subway uptown from lower Manhattan on my first visit to New York and was amazed to see all

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