Now you’re in New York…
I’ve always heard people from New York rep their city with pride, but the city has become celebrated in a whole new way. New York shaped my entire life and the generations before me. I’ve always been interested in the stories of the old time New York, the days of the Harlem Renaissance and the birth of hip hop.
In reviewing the past decade, I would be remiss not to mention the events of 9/11. There’s nothing I can say that hasn’t already been poignantly said by writers more prolific than me. I can only reflect on my own experience. Just two weeks before, Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash at 22 years old. I thought nothing could be more devastating, and then the center of my world was attacked and changed the face of politics, fear, war, and uncertainty. But even though there was pain, there was also hope and love. The image that will always stay with me that day was a man standing on 8th street, giving out hugs. People were looking for ways to help, whether it be the use of a cell phone or cards to firefighters from schoolkids.
As in times of national change, we turned to music for healing. Artists expressed the hurt and heart that resulted from the events of that cloudless morning. Bruce Springsteen sang “My City’s In Ruins.” Michael Jackson rallied an all-star tribute with “What More Can I Give?” Petey Pablo even helped us out with “Raise Your Flag.” The 2000s introduced hometown kids Alicia Keys and 50 Cent to the mainstream, and the evolution of the empire built by Jay-Z.
The decade closed with the new anthem, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind” and New York pride this stronger than ever.
As we set our sights on a new decade, we are more diverse and stronger than ever. New York is still the city of dreams for immigrants with the same hopes and aspirations as my grandparents. NYU remains one of the most popular universities in the world. Our young people continue to set trends in fashion, music, and art. A Bronx native is now the Supreme Court Justice. Word is that the next Oprah Winfrey is from Queens.
This was the decade when our strength was tested. We didn’t hide in fear but we celebrated resilience.
They took our towers but they couldn’t take our spirit.