Same City. Different Hood.
Born in the Bronx and raised in Harlem, those streets were and still are apart of my foundation. On social media, could you tell that I lived in these areas? Probably not. Unless it's popular tourist attractions like Soho and Flatiron, I never really took photos in my hometown.
Now why is that?
Starting out as a blogger, other then knowing how to edit my photos, I had no direction or purpose. I just knew I wanted to post about fashion and grow from there. In observing the fashion blogger community, I took note of photo opportunities in the city -- places I'm sure many of you have seen more than once. However, in all of my research, I rarely ever saw pictures taken in Harlem, much less other boroughs except Manhattan. So unconsciously, I fell into this bubble where photos of downtown Manhattan was the way to go, basically eluding myself of a beauty that was right under my nose.
Located in northern (uptown) Manhattan, where you'll find major landmarks such as the iconic Apollo theatre. A theater where many talented careers started and thrived for big names such as Dave Chapelle, Lauryn Hill, Diana Ross, James Brown and so much more. Even Bruno Mars held a secret concert there last year that I will never forget. Harlem is also the place where you'll find statues of humanitarians like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas -- people I have admired ever since I learned about their battles and triumphs. I could go on, but in the end I want to make it known that yes, great things happen here. There is so much history and beauty in this town, but not everyone gets to see it. Why? Well, throughout my childhood, the places that were always exposed to me through the media were either from Times Square to the Empire State Building. The main times I saw Harlem was when crime or poverty was mentioned, and those weren't always just. Not that it's like that today, in fact it's so much better -- but in the end, media narratives always win.
I'm putting some respect on my hometown where its due by taking photos in this environment that I have taken for granted all these years. I'm also educating myself on the history of its culture, originality, and spunk that made it what it is today. I'm releasing myself from this non-mind-stimulating bubble, and appreciating all areas of New York. From a social perspective, creativity and transparency stems from sharing the true parts of yourself that no one knows about. That could be from the area you live in to the raw parts that you can either consider as embarrassing or comforting. Because I'm sharing this with you, I'm choosing the ladder.
My name is Nkenge (Nick-en-gee) Brown and I am born in the Bronx and raised in Harlem. I'm not poor, but I know the feeling. I'm proud of who I am, where I'm from and wouldn't change it for the world.
Where are you from? Say it loud and proud in the comments below!
Until next time!