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Response to Review of Harlem : the unmaking of a ghetto

I was very pleased with Professor Matlin’s review of Harlem: The Unmaking of a Ghetto. I saw in it a close reading, and a deep appreciation and enjoyment of my work.

Professor Matlin’s criticizes my delight at seeing a 1970s Harlem where children jumped on discarded mattresses, opened fire hydrants and played with white Barbie dolls as they did and often still do in ghettos in America. What I celebrated with my comment was the joy and pride I saw in the children’s faces, not the poverty or the racial implications of their play objects. In addition these scenes made me feel part of a photographic community that had photographed similar examples of children playing.

With regard to ignoring the struggle against gentrification Professor Matlin is right. In the book I mention angry signs and comments by residents against gentrification but I didn’t see much evidence of their effectiveness, thus I decided not to discuss them in more detail.