Essay on Written Analysis

Submitted By Wonder1001
Words: 1626
Pages: 7

Ryan Abdelhafez
LIT-315-01
Dr. Suggs
12/23/14
In the early twentieth century, one of the leading movements in the United States was the Harlem Renaissance. According to history.com, “Spanning the 1920s to the mid-1930s, the Harlem Renaissance was a literary, artistic, and intellectual movement that kindled a new black cultural identity.” Not only did the Harlem Renaissance give African Americans the opportunity to establish their identity, but it also portrayed life on the streets of Harlem. According to Dr. Suggs in Whispered Consolations, “Black folks prey on black folks in Harlem, and the role of the police is simply to ‘police’ the secondary economy that drives the ghetto: drugs, liquor, theft, prostitution” (Suggs 167). As a result of the ghetto life in Harlem, African Americans are introduced to a racket known as the Numbers game. Two novels that greatly described the Numbers game are Playing the Numbers: Gambling in Harlem between the Wars by Stephen Garton, Stephen Robertson, Graham White, and Shane White and Daddy Was a Number Runner by Louise Meriwether. Both novels show just how much money and power an African American may have during the Harlem Renaissance just by playing this game. During the Harlem Renaissance, the Numbers game gave African Americans the chance to bet and earn a lot of money. In the first novel Playing the Numbers: Gambling in Harlem between the Wars, we are introduced to game of “Clearing House numbers.” According to Garton et al., “The game of ‘Clearing House numbers’… was a form of gambling in which individuals wagered on the single numeral between 0 and 999 that would turn up as the day’s number” (Garton et al. 12). This form of the Numbers game was based on the New York Clearing House and the Federal Reserve Bank. Garton et al. further describe the game by stating, “The daily number… was worked out by combining the second and third digits from the bank clearing with the third digit from the Federal Reserve Bank balance” (Garton et al. 13). Although this game was illegal, it gave hope to African Americans that they might have a great opportunity of living lives they could only dream of. Aside from the game of “Clearing House numbers,” African Americans also played the Numbers game based on the New York Stock Exchange. Garton et al. describes how this particular game works in their narration: A series of cards numbered 0 to 999 were sold at twenty-five cents each. The winning number, taken from the thousands column of the stocks and bonds sales as reported in the New York Sun, paid $25, a return of 100:1. Furthermore, if the number on the gambler’s card had the correct final two digits, it was a ‘bolita’ and paid $2, or 8:1. (Garton et al. 60)
As a result of the Numbers game, there were many successful African Americans bankers in this racket that became recognized in Harlem as, “Kings and Queens” (Garton et al. 2). Their success in the Numbers game has given them the opportunity to establish their identities as wealthy black Americans and fulfill their every desire. They did not need the help nor the racism from white Americans to make their way in the United States. Stephanie St. Clair and Casper Holstein were two of the most recognized “Kings and Queens” in Harlem. We are first introduced to Stephanie St. Clair, who is not only wealthy, but also powerful during the Harlem Renaissance. Garton et al. described Stephanie St. Clair as, “ ‘A slim figure, dark and sinister, clad always in a pale gray dress… and ‘her eyes were flashing like orbs of polished anthracite” (Garton et al. 2). Stephanie St. Clair was unlike any other African American woman. She seemed to get her point across and she would put fear into anyone who approached her, even if they were looking for an opportunity. In Playing the Numbers: Gambling in Harlem between the Wars, there was a time where, “A young woman, trying to convince Madame Queen to hire her as a secretary, ‘sat speechless with terror, her…