HARLEM ON MY MIND (1985)
Even for a native New Yorker like myself, in 1985 Harlem was forbidden, off-limits to outsiders. One day I somehow ended up there with my camera. Men looked at me with downright hostility. They told me they thought I was an undercover cop, thought I was packing a gun. Anger masking fear.
When night falls on Harlem it comes down hard. I went out with the police from the 28th precinct, riding in a squad car with a 23-year-old Irishman. Everywhere stares of hatred, as we went to one family dispute after another. One time it was a late-night raid on the Shelton Hotel, 'the Kennedy Arms' where heroin dealers and users were arrested. A homicide.
I liked the excitement and vibrancy of these streets. At a market on 125th, when I first took out my camera both policemen and venders shouted at me to put it down. A block away a drug bust was going on. The scene felt more foreign than anything I had experienced in Brazil or India.