Saturday, April 2, 2011

President Obama Returns to Harlem, but Were the Black Folks Kept Out?

From the Amsterdam News

After more than two years in office, the first president of African descent finally made his way to the historic cultural and intellectual center of Black America, Harlem.
And for many in the Harlem community, his visit was nothing short of a big letdown.

The president made two stops: at Harlem’s new “it” spot the Red Rooster (a restaurant), and at the always tony Studio Museum of Harlem (the place that is the beneficiary of a favorite charity soirĂ©e of the up-and-coming and arrived Black professional class of New York City).

But the DNC events in Harlem saw few Black professionals or members of the Harlem establishment at last night’s events. While Harlem’s Black politicos were well represented at the Studio Museum, and the president gave shout-outs to Rangel, Dinkins, Perkins, Wright and Dickens, a casual scan of the audience showed that between 80 and 85 percent of the audience was neither African-American nor Latino, the core of the Harlem community.

“I was thinking we would see more of the community and community leaders,” said State Sen. Bill Perkins. “These seem to be the early money people, the financial supporters,” he said.

Earlier in the evening some 50 people (one observer estimated there were four of five Black guests) forked over $30,800 apiece to attend the Democratic National Committee’s fundraiser at the Red Rooster. A block away, more than 200 demonstrators braved an icy windchill factor, many of them unemployed or barely earning in a year the amount requested for one night in Obama’s Harlem venture.


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