In this article, I analyze a recent conflict over drumming in a Harlem park to understand the ways in which cultural and racial symbols are employed in negotiations of space within cities. Specifically, I argue that racial belongingness-a racialized claim to space that exists outside of property rights and demarcated through iconography-can be used to both resist and facilitate gentrification in urban locales. The Harlem case illustrates how racial belongingness functions as a device that allows groups to contest power, representation, and access to public space across temporal, physical, and aural boundaries. Thus, I look closely at the city as a canvas and stage upon which passive forms of communication manifest in a racially and culturally coded fashion. Additionally, I argue that contemporary public space discourse is overly preoccupied with class, often neglecting the significance of race in the constitution and experience of urban space.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Urban Studies
- public space