Essay on Consumerism Taking Over Harlem

1161 Words 5 Pages
Before Harlem’s public life was controlled by consumerism, there was democratic interaction by citizens. Chandler Owens, an African American writer and socialist, believed that cabarets invoked self expression and liberation. He wanted them incorporated into Harlem’s public life. However, other citizens were afraid that their community was going to become the central place for “entertainment and profit” (312). These citizens were afraid that their neighborhood was going to become a place solely for the purpose of making money. In the last paragraph of page 312 to the last paragraph of page 313 of Kevin Mattson’s “The Struggle for an Urban Democratic Public: Harlem in the 1920s” Mattson makes the argument that not only citizens, but also …show more content…
He explains that fighting cabarets was necessary because they went against everything the citizens have been fighting for and would bring down Harlem. Grey believed that citizens needed to have control over their city and was convinced that cabarets would take away their control. Kevin Mattson uses these paragraphs to convey a more general idea. Mattson argues that public life is taken over by “corporate power and consumer culture” (292). Although they might be beneficial to some public life was not always controlled by shopping malls. He argues that there was a time when people cared about civic consciousness and democratic interaction so much that it was the basis for public space. He explains that schools, libraries, and even churches were places that citizens could congregate to educate themselves and make proper decisions concerning their city. Unfortunately, Harlem began to succumb to the poison that is consumption. Mattson writes that the people of Harlem began to witness “the making of the modern city and the loss of a distinct vision of urban life based on the democratic public interaction and collective problem solving” (292-293). These paragraphs on pages 312 to 313 are central to Mattson’s overall argument. They give a specific example of the types of meetings citizens of Harlem used to have before consumerism took over. They show how the citizens gathered to battle and discuss issues in the true sense of “democratic public interaction.” Through these

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