Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Place to Call Home

They say home is where the heart is. Green Day says, "home is where the heart is, but what a shame, 'cause everyones' heart doesn't beat the same." I would agree with Green Day on this one, and I think Toni Morrison would too. In her essay, "Lity Limits, Village Values: Concepts of the Neighborhood in Black Fiction," Morrison addresses the issues that African Americans face with regard to urban life, including the sterotypes associated with urban culture and the associated ostracized feelings. She makes the valid point that there are, in fact, no "black cities," and that all African Americans who live in cities, are living in places that were created by a white society. They had no say in it's planning, and at the time of the cities' creations, probably had little say in the running of the city. Essentially, they are living in a place that is foreign to their culture and lifestyle.
I think what Morrison is trying to convey, are her feelings of betrayal toward other African American writers who use these sterotypes in their literature and incorporate negative images into their witings, perpetuating the idea that African Americans are nomadic. She asserts that the closest America can come to a "black city," is Harlem. This is distressing, in that Harlem does not constitute a city, in any streach of the word. At best it is a neighborhood, dare I use the word "ghetto," of course, in its historic meaning, not what it has come to mean colloquially. But what I am trying to get at, is that Harlem is only a couple of blocks in Northern Manhattan, certinally not large enough to be a city in and of itself. Granted, Harlem has contributed vast amounts of culture and art to our society and African American society, (the Harlem Renaissance), it is unfair of Morrison to equate the importance of African Americans to a few measly blocks.
The time has past, in our country, for the creation of new cities; the fates of some of the ones that we already have are dubious, and our focus should go into keeping them afloat. What ever happened to urban renewal? I believe it is unfair and upsetting that African Americans feel as though they have no place to call their own, especially in this nation where everyone is equal, or at least, in this nation where everyone is supposed to be equal. The fact of the matter is, if we continue to view cities in terms of black and white, integration can never occur. There may never be a major city that is all African American, but what major city is completely homogenous these days? And more importantly, who would want to live in such a place?