13. What do you mean “Harlem is the girl I thought I needed to be” but “Brooklyn is the girl I am?”

Me: Harlem fed my Black-American cultural identity and Brooklyn feeds my artistic identity. Many young black professionals move to Harlem after college. It’s beautiful and rich with culture and history, and can even be glamorous and somewhat political depending on what circle you travel in. I wanted to experience the city life among the nation’s brightest young professionals-then suddenly I didn’t. The desire disappeared and I quickly got over it when I realized that the politics of it all, my ability to call myself a ‘black professional’ or a ‘successful black ___________’ or a ‘black __________’ is such an infinitesimal part of who I am. Above being black in America, above being black in America with a job, above being black in America with a job that allows me to buy nice clothes and shoes, and attend parties with other black folks with jobs and nice shoes, I’m an artist. I am someone who feels and needs to feel authentically, needs to have real conversations, needs to be around genuine or out-of-the-box people in order to feel centered. I need a circle that extends races and cultures and socio-economic status and work zip code. I need a circle where most members tip the margins, with knots in it and uneven ridges and openings in the lining. Brooklyn gives me that.

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