When H&M first opened a store in the heart of Harlem two years ago, I didn't know how it would last. Ohn two separate occasions, I saw peaceful , passionate protests in front of the H&M, during which the protestors yelled that the store did not hire black people. I looked into the shop window to see a skinny blonde girl hanging up clothing.
I visited the Harlem H&M yesterday and was greeted by a black doorman. Locals were employed in the store, and other locals shopped joyfully. The store is doing a good job of prominently displaying the clothing that looks particularly good on black skin tones. Along with Harlem residents, Columbia students made up a good portion of the shoppers. There were no signs of discomfort--H&M has found a way to become an expression of Harlem, rather than an intrustion upon Harlem.