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What a difference a Borough makes, growing up hood. It’s all about where ya from!

September 29, 2019

Prior to colonization, Native Americans occupied the lands before the colonizer’s claims of discovering North America.

An honorable mention so we never forget civilized life flourished prior to colonization of North America early 1600’s.

The five boroughs comprising of New York City did not exist as we know them today. This is not a lesson in History, but is the ambience of my novel, Harlemville, which is inspired by my New York upbringing.

From then til now.

The time I remember growing up in the Bronx, in the 1970’s is my second recollection. My first vague memories of young was Harlem, With my mom and dad, always crowds of people. After picking my mothers brain, she was surprised I remembered that time. My pops, a revolutionary, he knew Angela and Malcolm and as my mother put it, he was a soldier for the cause. Changed his government name to reflect that, and as me being my mom’s last child, he named me Ahmad.

1970’s Bronx

I’m seeing burnt out buildings. Hollowed out shells indicative of a war zone. I witnessed my project’s Vietnam Veterans, the ones drafted into a war, not their own, thousands of miles in jungle terrain return home strung out, drinking cheap wine and nodding in the hallways of a project building. Today, with hindsight I could picture their only peace being that in those poppy fields to escape the colonizers whims.

They loved us as kids, and tried to set us straight. Don’t smoke and drink and stay in school. A message told to us, too early, we were still running the project playing Manhunt, Kick-the-can and Run, Catch & Kiss.

I was a true snot nose Bronx kid, running the projects for the first half of that decade,

Brooklyn is on deck, on the map for certain. A personal homage to the borough that birthed my dad. Once the fourth largest city, this is a borough with plenty of character. It’s beauty will give you a false sense of pleasantness, til nightfall. If you don’t know the terrain it’s possible you could land your ass in trouble. It’s rough side was truly that. This is one borough I did not care to visit, with the exception of the World’s famous Coney Island. An annual tradition was to head out there on Easter, the gang of us decked out on the F train to the last stop.

You can walk along the Brooklyn into South Manhattan. On a starry night you can fall in love all over again the view is everything. I can do Brooklyn, it’s peace, just don’t be at the wrong place in them bricks, they will get you!

Staten Island

All I know of the suburban borough is Wu-tang Clan, and the place where the old school mobsters built their mansions. A quick hop to New Jersey over the Verrazano bridge, it is an Island. The Staten Island ferry terminal was the only reason why I ever ventured. A free ride on a ferry with a panoramic view of New York Harbor and a hint of the Statue of Liberty.


Our suburban borough, filled with houses the further east you traveled. Not the inner city for certain, this is where the city worker’s flocked when they bought their first house.

The city mobsters lived there, where they still laid down their grind. Again, at night don’t get caught out in Howard Beach.


My favorite borough. This is where the money is. Every other borough knows, Manhattan. This is possibly the only borough where the whole of New York City meets, and that includes the suburbs.

The original Vice City, the crossroads of the world is 42nd Street, We played hooky and watched 3 movies for 75 cents at 9:am. Kung Fu flicks galore, pretty certain Wu-tang picked their name because of it.

Hustlers, con games and prostitutes, a real Hell’s Kitchen, before Disney took over the block, Now known as the Capital of the World.

Uptown via the legendary A train, you’ll find soulful Harlem. Not a borough but a city unto itself. A lost period of Black prominence where a utopia existed,

Mid-1970’s Harlem

What a place! Shit was like a block party on the block’s. 133rd Street, 123rd…112th Street man so many people hanging out, mulling around, product moving – I was around cats ahead of their time. I admit. I gained a new perspective for life, it was no longer about mediocre, it was about getting it, fast lane, compared to where I ‘m from my n the Bronx, Harlem was ahead of its time.

New Harlem

After gentrification. Everyone new it was going to arrive. We forgot about the one dollar brownstones for sale. A lottery, all you had to do was guarantee to fix them up. Well we never saw the buyers or a neighborhood hanger until gentrification was official. A former president Bill Clinton opened an office on 125th Street, after that it was on. If you visit Harlem today, it appears to be an extension of 96th Street, sidewalk cafes included. Oh yeah, and those one dollar brownstones, worth over a million plus dollars today.

Back to the Bronx

The true definition of inner city, the whole damn borough was poor, except for Riverdale, whom always excluded themselves from Bronx memberships.

Writer’s Write…., Farewell til forever…

Ahmad C. Wakanda

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