Summary (Masterplots II: African American Literature, Revised Edition)
Part thriller, part social commentary, part morality study, Hunting in Harlem is at heart a hard-edged satirical and cautionary tale about the potential dangers of urban renewal and gentrification from an African American perspective. Under the aegis of former congressman and parole officer Cyrus Marks, three former convicts—Bobby, Snowden, and Horus—have been handpicked as interns for Second Chance, a program run by Horizon Realty. This competitive one-year program ostensibly helps rebuild men’s lives as they help restore the architecturally grand brownstones of Harlem, particularly those in the Mount Morris Historic District, to their former glory. The ultimate goal, the men are told, is to create a second cultural renaissance like that experienced in the 1920’s and 1930’s, when African American literature, art, and music flourished in Harlem. Toward this end, the former convicts are instructed to clean out vacated premises and assist new buyers in moving into renovated homes. The intern who most impresses management as a potential real estate agent will not only be given his own brownstone but also be chosen to oversee Second Chance in the future.
As the three men go about their duties, Snowden notices a sinister aspect of the renaissance plan. A key component of the program is replacing “undesirables”—drug dealers, gang members, welfare recipients, pimps, pedophiles, and other such “lowlifes”—with upscale, professional...
(The entire section is 364 words.)
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