Weekend Stories: Race, Gentrification, Random Acts of Kindness, and Race.

I typed these stories up one Sunday afternoon after thinking back on the weekend that just past. These brief moments I shared with strangers around Harlem and in New York were the most memorable part of my week.I sent them in an email to my sister. I think she enjoyed reading them, so now I’m sharing them with the world..enjoy!

I’m trying to like my class better and be a more active part of it. But it’s hard, especially when things like this happen:

On 168th and Ft. Washington
Hearing the your classmate walking behind you in a big group using fake ebonics to describe what he thought his patient interview was going to be like…just to get a laugh out of the group he was with. I cringed. Then he notices you walking ahead and catches up with you to small talk. I couldn’t fake any niceties this time.

On 34th and 8th Ave.
Seeing an elderly white man with his wife walk past you and accidentally drop $15 by your feet. You pick up the money and run after him and call out, “excuse me, Sir!” He turns around just enough to get a quick glimpse of your face then waves you away with his hand and walks away quickly holding his wife. You catch up with him and give him his money. He looks shocked, mutters an embarrassed apology and touches your shoulder…never looking you in the eye. I appreciated the fact that he touched my shoulder to show how truly sorry he was, but I still wanted to cry.

On 118th and 5th Ave.
An old black man walking out of the bodega with his bike seems me tinkering with my bike chain. He pulls up beside me. Flips my bike over, fixes my chain and proceeds to teach how to do a full tune-up on my bike myself. Then give me his number, tells me he lives in Harlem, he absolutely loves fixing bikes. And that he’ll come out and help me fix me bike if I ever need it. I love Harlem.

On 145th and 8th Ave.
Walking towards the train with my headphones in. A black girl around my age with cute cornrows who was walking towards me taps my shoulder to get my attention and says, “Sis! I love your hair” I was pretty taken aback because I’ve never been called “sis” by another girl. It felt perfect and I couldn’t help the huge grin on my face. I yelled back that I Ioved hers too! We both grinning at this point. I love Harlem.

On 120th and 6th Ave.
Walking down 120th and 6th, past some beautiful brown stones. There were a group of young men sitting on a stoop. Maybe they were playing a card game, maybe they were chatting..I can’t remember. The one that was facing me was cute, he was wearing an Kinte-print shirt. Just then I see a white boy, also about our age, walk out of of one of the brownstones in nothing but a small towel wrapped around his waist and flip flops on his feet. I was shocked and when I looked up I saw the Kinte-print guy looking at me, he gestured at the white boy with his head and we both just shook our heads. As I walked past I heard one of the young men say, “Damn, what is Harlem coming to?”


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