Google’s Harlem Bias

The internet is a wormhole, your mind is free to wander through. See something, search something, click something. On seeing Harlem trending on Facebook, I Googled Harlem, then clicked on the images tab.

I hoped to see the energy on 125th street, the bustle, the smiles of the New Yorkers who walked those streets, knowing they had earned the right to be there.

Instead what I saw, was awash of gray. Images with muted colors, images from a distance. Images in black and white. It felt… lacking. It felt untrue. It felt like the digital version of New York City printed tourist maps, where life stops below 110th St.

Google Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 8.30.12 PM
Google Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 8.30.12 PM

I was reflecting back on my time in New York City and expected to get lost online, wandering colorful, vibrant, lively photos of the neighborhood I once strolled on Sunday’s with my Husband as he photographed the streets. A neighborhood I fondly remember directing a Meet the Band video in for Thaddeus Anna Greene. That evening in St. Nicholas Park, the band and I were a happy family whose only worry was the setting Sun on a Sunday. Work beckoned, we played.

In retrospect, I shouldn’t be shocked at what Google returned. The decade I lived in New York City, whenever a tourist stopped me, map in hand, asking for directions, I noticed their streets stopped at Central Park.

It was as if tourists were being kept in the safe zone. For them, New York City ended at 110th street, before Harlem began. For me, a New Yorker, it didn’t.

Harlem glows.

Golden Hues at Sunset in Harlem
Golden Hues at Sunset in Harlem

Harlem is vibrant.

Hoops once dreamed by Paolo Ferraris Colors
Hoops once dreamed by Paolo Ferraris Colors

The Sun shines on Harlem.

Harlem's Gift of Color by Paolo Ferraris Colors
Harlem’s Gift of Color by Paolo Ferraris Colors

The Sun Sets in Harlem.

Shining Light on Harlem by Paolo Ferraris Colors
Shining Light on Harlem by Paolo Ferraris Colors

Life is lived in full color in Harlem. Harlem is part of New York City and New York City is a part of me.

Harlem's Crosses by Paolo Ferraris Colors
Harlem’s Crosses by Paolo Ferraris Colors

 

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