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LIVE IN HARLEM!!!

Paul Coletti | 17:04 UK time, Wednesday, 21 March 2007

The World Have your Say travellers spent today in the home of the orginal Globetrotters. Harlem, upper Manhattan. This was one of the most heated debates we've ever had - reflected ni the number of comments below pointing out that the conversation was at times, hard to make out. Our Harlem audience were passionate - that's for sure.

We've opened with a blistering amount of comment from our Harlem audience tonight:

- The N-word
- Property prices
- Gentrification
- Unemployment
- Police attitudes

"The 13th Amendement allowed the South to still continue slave labour."

"Criminalising our race is what happened to the blacks. Living in Harlem you begin to feel like a native American with our land shrinking."

"Malcolm told us if we didn't control our own community we are less than a people."

"How much responsibility, what ownership are we takiing for the apathy in our community"

Shaka in Zimbabwe is in the audience: "Whether you're from Jamaica, Nigeria, South Carolina, wherever, you are black. Unity is power."

"Our role models are not black, they're white. Keeping up with the Joneses? Who are the Joneses? They're white."

e-Mails are flying in

James writes:
I live in NYC, love people, love life. But all that I have heard from Harlem is nonsense and victimhood. Illuminati? Genocide? MLK is rolling over in his grave. Get your heads out of your arses. Come on, some of the worst racism is black against black. How many unwed mothers are black? Why is "ho" and "niggah" and crime applauded? Why when blacks kill blacks doo we hear nothing, no protest, no marches? Until African Americans (and I am one) quit blaming others, we will get nowhere.

Steve in Virginia writes:
To the listeners around the world, I would take the things you hear on this program with a grain of salt. The people on this show are of the entitlement mentality, that the state should provide them everything, when it's everyone's responsibility to provide for themselves. Educate yourselves, then apply what you learn to obtain employment. There have been other groups in the US, such as asians, that were heavily discriminated against, yet they became successful, despite being racial minorities too. I'm hearing so much conspiracy stuff on this program that I have to turn it off. Murdered? Come on.. Plenty of non black people get killed by the police too. Events like Amidou Diallo are very rare, though completely catastrophic.

Magnanomous in Detroit, US writes:
Just a bit ago, a woman said that this was a plan of "Illuminati" which typically refers to a conspiracy theory. How much more trauma do people need to experience before we recognize that these "conspiricies" are indeed materializing before all of the world?!

John & Linda in Minnesota, listening on Sirius Radio Channel 141, write:
We feel that the audience is correct about blacks being held down. Clearly the Katrina incident clearly showed how whites felt about the lives of black people. It seems that all people of color in America and the world do not seem to value the lives of minorities (Asians, Africans, Hispanics). It is both. It is imposed but also because we have given up hoping that we will ever be considered worthwhile. The issue of race must be removed.

A text from Jason in Oregon:
It sounds 2 me like harlem is going thru a revitalization. Harlem is known for its poverty levels, so, what's wrong with this process of regeneration.

TEXTS

Bryce in Portland, OR
How long will African Americans continue to raise all the concerns they have and not do anything to break the cycle. How long until they stand up and actually do something. Lets hear about solutions!

KIM
I'm in Portland, across the country… How can I help!?

ERIC
Gentrafication affects everyone! I'm from Austin texas and i'm noticing that the developers are not building for the "local" but for the out of state investment. Good luck to everyone in Harlem.

Jack in Cleveland
Please ask your audience if they think that America's "First Black President" is doing enough to help them. His offices are in Harlem.

Anonymous Text message
Businesses build from demographics. The changes that are made, are made from progression of the people within that community. You are the ones to help make that change, but what I hear from your group is hatred and excitment from people who have gone through adversity and can not deal with. So essentially they are saying they can not handle the troubles they are facing and so they blame it on an invisible hand.

James writes:
I live in NYC, love people, love life. But all that I have heard from Harlem is nonsense and victimhood. Illuminati? Genocide? MLK is rolling over in his grave. Get your heads out of your arses. Come on, some of the worst racism is black against black. How many unwed mothers are black? Why is "ho" and "niggah" and crime applauded? Why when blacks kill blacks doo we hear nothing, no protest, no marches? Until African Americans (and I am one) quit blaming others, we will get nowhere.

Some e-Mails . . .

Tekla in Burbank, California, US writes:
I doubt seriously that he spit on a side walk. You have no ownership. The mayor of New Orleans is black and you re-elected him for killing you. Why are you shooting each other? Why aren't your average black people going to school? Why are you not STOPPING YOUR RIDICULOUS BEHAVIOUR. If you attend school and stay out of gangs then you can pull yourselves up. If you stop referring to yourselves by the n word and indulging in gangster rap you can improve yourselves immediately. And as for Africa, Mugabe is black. Darfur is black on black. No one is doing this to you. The head of Merrill Lynch is a black man. He went to school. You have plenty of role models.

Elizabeth writes:
My question to the team in Harlem, what is the black community doing about Black on Black crime? Analysis show that blacks killing blacks is a major proportion of the crimes going on in the inner cities. When are we going to stop blaming others and take responsibility for our own actions?
I came here from Ghana and I am making the most of the opportuinities America offers. What are you all doing for yourselves? Remember you have free education up to High school, and I didn't have that in Ghana, yet I educated myself up to Graduate school, and I am now working in a so-called "white position" You are limited only by your own actions. America is a free country brethern.

Scott in Portland writes:
I am a big supporter of human rights and all minorities in general. But I don't give a damn about Harlem being gentrified and this reverse prejudice that is occurring openly on the radio. Nobody needs to be united or proud, they just need to take responsibility for there actions and get along with each other and stop viewing white people as the enemy. It really makes people who do care about these issues loose interest, when people have cried wolf so many times and don't take any responsibility for there actions - I just stop caring. What about the genocide in Rwanda with Africans killing each other - that was/is something to worry about and other issues occurring in Africa right now!!! Not some complainers in Harlem.

Joe in New York, US writes:
Gentrification is happening in the previously marginal areas of New York City because of extraordinary economic growth, because crime is down over 70% and because the city is now a truly global village. If you want to stop this trend then you will have to change the current economic system. Good Luck!!!

Steve in Virginia writes:
Note the codewords "they".. Referring to white people. Would there be such a problem with "gentrification" if the people moving in were african americans? If there were so much pride in Harlem, why is it so dirty and rundown and rampant with crime? Doesn't seem like pride to me.

Jack in Cleveland writes:
Please ask your audience if they think that America's "First Black President" is doing enough to help them. His offices are in Harlem.

Eric writes:
Gentrification affects everyone! I'm from Austin texas and i'm noticing that the developers are not building for the "local" but for the out of state investment. Good luck to everyone in Harlem.

John in Cleveland writes:
Look, the point of my email was about not taking care of your property and letting it fall to the wayside. Not how educated you are or the culture in your community. You need to reinvest your money into keeping up your property in order to keep others from doing it for you. I've seen neighborhoods in Cleveland deteriorate because people do not keep up their property. Then when the properties are devalued and crumbling and someone comes in to fix it up, people get offended. Take responsibility and keep your property maintained.

e-Mails . . . .

John in Vancouver, Canada writes:
It occurs to me that as an American, if you separate yourself from our national community as an African American, you pigeon-hole yourself into a smaller category of people with rights, but less power. If you think of yourself as an American, demand that others do the same, and demand the equal rights guaranteed all of us by the Constitution, your power to change what needs to be changed increases exponentially. I am a Norwegian American, which is a small minority in the US (much smaller than the African American Community). I don't stand up for the rights of the Norwegian community. I stand up for the Constitutional rights of all Americans, and that gives me more power and allows me to look at all as just Americans, like me.

Ken in Cleveland, US writes:
I live in Cleveland and I traveled to Harlem twice after 9-11 and stayed with friends. Harlem was a beautiful city and had great food and shopping. The people on the other hand were cold and unwelcoming and more than once I heard someone yell "Keep Harlem Black" at me and my wife.

Steven writes:
Is it the residents' fault that they're being passed over and not participating in the financial boom currently going on in Harlem? You betcha - if they'd invested in the real estate and future of Harlem while it was down, rather than just allowing it to decay, they'd be profiting from its re-emergence. It's not the government that's keeping folks down, it's the well ingrained mythology that the government is keeping certain people down. If you doom yourself to failure, in any endeavour, you will fail.

Damian writes:
I don't understand why residents in Harlem are upset about their city becoming cleaner and safer. As far as I could remember, Harlem as been a dirty slum. I think people are more upset that they want Harlem to be "their own" as opposed to sharing it with "white people"!

Femi writes:
it's true that the NYPD has a well deserved bad reputation nation wide in dealing with minority communities, however black people have come a long way despite the odds and deserve credit for their accomplishments. But we also need to start taking responsibility for our own communities instead of blaming everyone around us. Invest in our people, teach our people how to manage money, educate our children. Believe it or not black people are amongst those buying and building these new properties in harlem. A lot of blacks have money in today's america - which gives them a voice - the question is are they willing to speak out for their poor brothers and sisters.

Andrea writes:
I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. A city that, like Harlem, has rich history and culture. What I believe it all boils down to is the fact that there are some black people who take NO responsibility for their communities, their families, and their lives. How can we change that? There seems to be no passion for justice or equality anymore. I'm 25, and I know for a fact that my generation has dropped the ball on civil rights. We've gotten complacent with our GM, Ford, Chrysler jobs and having the money to move to the suburbs. I think its terrible.

Tommy in Columbus, US writes:
This is more than an issue of racism this is an issue of freedom of speech. The only way you can curb racism is by educating people, not banning words. Racism is a function of ignorance not semantics and context. Educated people should know, to borrow a phrase from Jesse Jackson, to attribute their use of the "n word" to their heads and not their hearts. It has become too large a part of society, namely pop culture, for it to be banned. My thoughts and prayers are with you in Harlem. Thank you.

Joe in New York, US writes:
Everyone that is not a lawyer, investment banker, corporate executive, model or actor is trying to hang-on in New York as the rent and property prices escalate. This problem is not unique to Harlem nor are the people of color the only sufferers.

Steve Virginia
Note the codewords "they".. Referring to white people. Would there be such a problem with "gentrification" if the people moving in were african americans?

JAMES
The people on the radio are even being rude to the BBC, who are giving them a voice to the world. So sad.

Daniel, Los Angeles
I just wanted to offer a little heads up to the gentleman taking offense to the Bill Clinton that comparison. As it was Toni Morrison who first coined the phrase that "Bill Clinton was the first black president."

Andrea - born and raised in Detroit, Michigan
What I believe it all boils down to is the fact that there are some black people who take NO responsibility for their communities, their families, and their lives.

TOMMY - OHIO
This is more than an issue of racism this is an issue of freedom of speech. The only way you can curb racism is by educating people, not banning words.

JOHN IN CLEVELAND
Look, the point of my email was about not taking care of your property and letting it fall to the wayside. Not how educated you are or the culture in your community. You need to reinvest your money into keeping up your property in order to keep others from doing it for you.

Ron writes:
I'm African American, and I lived in Harlem for six years from the late 90's until 04 right down the street from your location. I saw that neighborhood go from nothing to something in a very short time. My problem was with the residents who when they had the opportunity to do so did nothing to change their community. The visionaries saw the gentrification coming and bought property while it was still cheap and still own it or sold at a profit. There were buildings on my block that were for sale for little or nothing less than 10 years ago. Conversely there were people in my building who were proud to have lived in the same place fro 40 years or more, they had cheap rent and no rights! No ownership, no say in their own futures -that's the problem. Also, political dynasties like that of Charlie Rangel have not served the people of his district well, otherwise they would not be where they are today. The person from Cleveland is also right, in a sense, as I have seen it here in my hometown that when people of color move into nicer neighborhoods, they don't stay nice very long. It's sad but true.

Derrick of Chattanooga, US writes:
For years we (blacks) have fought to have equal rights, at what point do we stop fighting and begin to take advantage of what we have gained?
Were we after equality or privilege?

Ken in Portland, US writes:
It is almost comic to hear these comments from the "oppressed" blacks. Instead of taking responsibility for changing behavior and attitudes within their community, they always take the victimization route. Why are there so many blacks in prison? Because they commit crimes at a higher rate than other groups! Why aren't there more educated blacks? Because it's too white to study! Why don't investors want to put money into the black areas? Because of crime and deterioration! It is interesting to note that other minority groups seem to do quite well through hard work and community support. Koreans have established shops in the black areas when blacks themselves have opted out. Why? It's time to look inward, not to blame others for your failures.

Arnell writes:
I am white guy who grew up in NYC. I spent a week in college in a transitional housing center for people getting clean on 122nd & Lexington in the heart of Harlem a few blocks from the Apollo in 1991. I have been a (mainly outside) observer of Harlem my whole life. The difference between harlem of 1991 and today is radical. In 1991 crack dealers were everywhere. I saw a man stabbed on the sidewalk in front of dozens. Police only came into an area in groups of four or more. There was no community policing or patrol. Beautiful brownstones lay abandoned and crack dealers squated them for their nefarious dealings. Harlem of today is vastly better. Brownstones that laid empty and rotting have been refurbished and are beautiful again. Outside businesses has brought jobs that didn't exist before. Harlem is much much safer than it was. I doubt these people reflect the majority of Harlem residents feelings. Harlem has it's self respect again and that is a good thing. Shouting about "the man" and claiming that all whites are in the "Illuminati" plotting to re-enslave black america is just un-contructive (and laughable) and immediately turns off the ears of any other group you may be trying to communicate to.

Daniel in Los Angeles, US writes:
Taking no particular side in the earlier issue brought up regarding Bill Clinton. I just wanted to offer a little heads up to the gentleman taking offense to that comparison. As it was Toni Morrison who first coined the phrase that "Bill Clinton was the first black president."

James writes:
Think African Americans are insane? These on the radio are even being rude to the BBC, who are giving them a voice to the world. So sad.

S in India writes:
You are saying that gentrification in Harlem is fuelled by the pumping in of money. But ask the people from where the money is coming from and how the money is being earned?

Steve in Virginia writes:
I noticed your co-host has stated that "we love each other", but do you love others?

Matteo in Italy writes:
In milan we have both a typical gentrification related to housing, where areas are reconverted by big companies and sold for higher(est) price, and one more subtle that comes from creative energies: entire areas once part of the extraordinary artisan tissue of the city are eaten and digested from design schools, architectural offices or fashion companies therefore destroying a culture that made milan the capital of industrial design in the past. this phenomenon of auto- consumption is right now still under-estimated but will have an enormous impact on the so called excellence of "made in italy", separating more and more the conceptualization and the production of design objects.

Eric writes:
I dont need to be black or from Harlem to suffer from gentrafication. But is this todays topic or todays crutch?

Roy in Florida, US writes:
Hello Harlem, welcome to Globalization!! It sounds like the African Americans in Harlem at least are still worried about their fellow "white" Americans keeping them suppressed. As an Asian investor in the United States I can assure you that the US market is the most wide open market in the world and you are competing with the world now, not your former oppressors. Look beyond race relations and concentrate on commerce as it is the only universal language.

Richard writes:
Perhaps the program illustrated the major problem in Harlem. Everyone is angry and feels that everyone else should hear it; no one wants to listen.

Maureen in Cleveland writes:
Please ask the participants to explain with specifics why they cant get an education, why they cant buy a house, why they cant get a loan in the US. Where I live the schools bend over backwards for African American students by offering saturday programs with free lunch, after school programs, and special instruction and support. My community offers low-interest loans for minorities who move into mostly white neighborhoods. Furthermore, the federal government has minority men and women at the highest levels of government - Secretary of State, Attorney General, National Security Advisor, Secretary of the Commerce, etc. Please ask them to give specifics as to how they are prevented from opportunity any more than any other Americans.

Alicia in Portland, US writes:
As a black woman living in Portland, OR I'm unfortunately not suprised by the comment from another Portland listen who said he "doesn't give a damn" about gentrification in Harlem. Portland is one of the whitest cities in the country. The listeners comment comes from a place of ignorance. Many white folks in this part of the country want to do anything BUT acknowledge that they are part of the problem. In their minds, it's as simple as...slavery is over so what is our (black folks) problem. They are unable to see that racism and slavery are still alive and going strong. It doesn't effect them, so why should they care. Gentrification is a major problem in Portland. Black folks are being pushed out of neighborhoods in North and Northeast Portland as the communities "improve". Folks who have owned their homes for decades, are being priced out. Is this OUR fault?

Susannah in San Francisco, US writes:
I can't hear you, because you are speaking against each other as rivaling individuals rather than discussing the issues as one cohesive group. I support your cause and it hurts me that some of you have alienated yourself from the government and the non-african-(american) community. Maybe I do not understand the complexies of your plight but it does not mean that I do not support you.

S in India writes:
Why people of Harlem do not want to call themselves as just Americans than African Americans. Why people do not want to join the national mainstream.

Steve writes:
ON BEHALF OF THE AFRICAN AMERICANS LIVING IN CLEVELAND, I WOULD LIKE TO APOLOGIZE FOR THE IGNORANT COMMENTS MADE BY A CLEVELANDER REGARDING YOUR PROGRAM IN HARLEM.

Christopher writes:
I agree with the caller Jason from Portland. To hear everyone there is laughable. I bet more separatist than Iraqis... even reverse racism. Be people, be American, we all live together

Thomas in Columbus writes:
If I used "they" to describe black people as a blanket statement as many times as I've heard it used to describe white people, I would be considered a racist. White people seem to have no place in this conversation anymore and it seems this Jason individual actually has something intelligent to say. This program is seeming to become counterproductive and cyclical.

Chach in Portland, Oregon, US writes:
Gentrification of neighborhoods that are predominately occupied by people of color and poor folks is nothing new. Gentrification is modern colonialism. The institutions or racism and classism relegate people to specific areas and neighborhoods and disallows services and living wage jobs for those people. White racism fuels these institutions and unfairly demands that the people who are marginalized from them be responsible for fixing it. All across america's inner cities poor and black neighborhoods are being co opted by white developers and it is pushing poor people and people of color farther out of the urban environments. Here in Portland many of the neighborhoods that used to consist of people of color and poor white folks, the nieghboorrhoods that most white people wouldn't even come into, are now the hip shopping districts with boutiques, coffee shops and restruants owned by white people. And nobody talks about where the poor people and people of color have gone. It just gets whiter and whiter every day.

Greg writes:
I have new found respect for NY Oil. I first heard him when he was on the show in the UK and I have to say I think his heart is in the right place.

Ryan in Portland, US writes:
No one can properly understand this issue, when you simply continue emotionally-charged arguments. It is rather unbearable, and extremely difficult to listen to.
This is a very important issue, but let's approach it in an orderly fashion to find results.

Brandon in Mississippi, US writes:
I can not believe that in 2007 there are people left in the U.S. that are so hung up on the race issue. Slavery and opression were abandoned before any of our lifetimes. Whites of today are not responsible for any opression to black people. To those who prefer to be called African American I would like to ask what part of Africa are you from? You are American. You have most likely never been to Africa and never will be. If you have been snatched from your "mother land" then by all means, there are airlines transporting passengers to Africa on a daily basis. If your feel so opressed in the United States then go home to your "mother land." If your prefer the life of poverty and health problems of Africa, then go. The United States is a land of freedom and acceptnace. Every nationality, race, and religion are represented here and each and every one has the same freedom as the other. Additionally, this is a radio program of discussion. Never on the BBC have I heard such ignorance and hostility toward each other.

Lisa writes:
It sounds like a nightmare in action. Everyone is screaming and nothing is being said. Utter chaos. I apolpgize if I sound harsh, but it is the truth. Ros is a great guy, but the audience is not cooperating at all.
Ros, again I am sorry I could not be in the Cleveland audience. I just wanted to say you are all working so very hard here, in every city. We are a tough crowd, and I know you are well aware of that. Sometime I wish I was UK citizen!

Mark in Ohio writes:
Sound and fury, sound and fury….People, of any sort, will always fail unless their OBJECTIVE (s) are clear and tied to agreed upon STRATEGIES AND TACTICS. Black folks, poor folks, lots of folks don't even truly begin to understand the elements of power…. Or how to get it… Politically, we are stuck to the Democrats to the point of irreverence…Economically, we make TERRIBLE life choices that stack OUR OWNN DECK AGAINST US…
We don't understand demographics….especially the as it applies to how any minority must plan it wants real, meaningful success….THE MIRROR IS ALWAYS THE HARDEST THING….IT IS ALSO THE ONLY THING ONE CAN EVER TRULY CONTROL.

Some texts . . .

Sandra, Berlin/Germany
I want to say that you must stop being drama queens and start talking!

Anon
Do Americans know how few africans have an roof over thier heads? In zimbabwe its our own black leaders who evict us from our shacks

Bigboy in Mozamb
I think we should stop crying and try to do things on our own.

Anon
I live in the UK. I'm homeless. I live in my car at night and try to work self employed during the day. Rent or morgage are out of my league. I can not actually imagine a time when I will be able to afford a home here in the Uk. I'm white by the way.

Stephen writes:
I am listening to WHYS from Harlem and I really must protest at the highjacking of the term "people of color" by black Americans. As a white American (actually more pink of beige) originally from Europe, I too have a color. The color of my skin is not clear or transparent. It's pink, beige or light tan but whatever it is it's a COLOR.
PLEASE, make the point to our black friends (actually brown or dark brown) that we all are "People of color".

Joe in New York, US writes:
I have heard more conspiracy theories in the last hour than I have heard in the last five years combined. It is time to stop talking about how others may have collaborated to cause your problems and start doing something about it. We are all waiting.

Ron in Florida writes:
As I said I am an Asian investor here in the United States, and no matter what color or kind of American you are everyone has problems but investors do not care, we have poorer people than you in our countries and if we can turn a profit by moving you out and make a bunch of people rich......you are "Trumped"!

Terry writes:
Gentrification in Boston is horrible. My neighborhood was very unpopular when I moved there in 1989 then suddenly became chic when empty-nesters wanted to move back into the city. I don't know how much longer I can stay here. The American Dream is a nightmare for me. I would consider leaving the country if the opportunity came up.

Some texts . .

Zilla, ACCRA
Please America and Britain have to compensate African-Americans.

Kenya
Have a suggestion for these brothers and sisters who need to be heard? - Pealse start BLOGGIN.

k'la uganda
Capitalism is a necessary evil.

Anon
I am a Sierra Leonean, you people are doing a good job out there by enlighting the world that we should know our rights especially the blacks.

Harlem, it is sad to know your plight, this will continue as long as your Government is engaged in too many HOT ZONES all over the world and many homeless war veterans in your country.

Peter, Kenya
Bush must give an ear to harlem, it sounds pathetic and uncivilized. Leave Iraqis alone, otherwise history will judge u harshly.

Sayed Sudan
Americans should Stop racism towards africans sayed.Sudan

Lala in Portugal has written an e-Mail:
first want to congratulate you on the show. my personal opinion is that allot of anger and blame is being placed on what is NOT being done as opposed to what CAN be done and furthermore no one sounds willing to put any possible plans into action. Actions speak louder than words...so simple and yet so relevant.

Matteo in Italy writes:
In milan we have both a typical gentrification related to housing, where areas are reconverted by big companies and sold for higher(est) price, and one more subtle that comes from creative energies: entire areas once part of the extraordinary artisan tissue of the city are eaten and digested from design schools, architectural offices or fashion companies therefore destroying a culture that made milan the capital of industrial design in the past. this phenomenon of auto- consumption is right now still under-estimated but will have an enormous impact on the so called excellence of "made in italy", separating more and more the conceptualization and the production of design objects.

Eric writes:
I dont need to be black or from Harlem to suffer from gentrafication. But is this todays topic or todays crutch?

Roy in Florida, US writes:
Hello Harlem, welcome to Globalization!! It sounds like the African Americans in Harlem at least are still worried about their fellow "white" Americans keeping them suppressed. As an Asian investor in the United States I can assure you that the US market is the most wide open market in the world and you are competing with the world now, not your former oppressors. Look beyond race relations and concentrate on commerce as it is the only universal language.

Richard writes:
Perhaps the program illustrated the major problem in Harlem. Everyone is angry and feels that everyone else should hear it; no one wants to listen.

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