Your World Q&A: Harlemite Yolande Brener Answers Five Questions + Bonus (Updated)

Yolande Brener

A Harlemite who works at CBS writes for Harlem World Magazine and is author of Holy Candy: Why I Joined A Cult And Married a Stranger Culture/.

1. What makes living in Harlem so special?


The warm community spirit and the open spaces and parks make Harlem special for me.

2. Three favorite local spots in Harlem?

I love St. Nicholas Park for its wide sloping lawn and variety of wild birds. I love Jenny’s Garden for the sense of peace and the wonderful flora and fauna it brings to the neighborhood. I also love the stretch of river from Riverbank State park to the GW Bridge (preferably when it’s quiet when people haven’t left too much litter from their parties, and when there aren’t too many dead fish in the water).

3. Best place for a night out in Harlem?

I don’t really go out, except to see my daughter perform. She is a singer-songwriter who performs as Climate Disaster. My favorite places to see her play are The Shrine and Silvana.

4. Most delicious menu items (before the COVID virus)?

Sweet potato rolls from Geisha Sushi, watermelon juice and carrot ginger soup from Lyn Genet’s Kitchen, mac and cheese and eggplant from Uptown Veg, fresh lychees from the 24-hour fruit stand on 138th and Broadway.

5. What do you like to do in your free time in Harlem?

I like to run or exercise along the river, I like to go for walks. I like to draw and read and write. I’m quite a homebody but I do appreciate my beautiful neighborhood and all the changes happening now to enable outdoor dining and safe socially distanced get-togethers.

Bonus: How long have you lived in Harlem?

I have lived in Harlem since 2001!

Bonus: How has life changed for you (if it has) in Harlem during the COVID virus (if it applies)?

Life has changed for me completely. I used to work in midtown 6-7 days a week, sometimes double days. Since March 13th, I worked from home teaching English for City College and Borough of Manhattan Community College. Since the semester ended, my time has been my own mostly. For me, these changes are good because I love drawing and writing and working on my fitness goals so I’ve had a lot more time to spend on these activities. Also, I’ve had a lot more time to spend with my children. Since they’re adults, they don’t always want to see me, but when they do, I really enjoy their company. Although my children and I had symptoms of the virus early on, and I have since tested antibody positive, this hasn’t been the major change for me. I still have some remaining lung issues, but nothing serious.

Bonus: How has life been in Harlem during the Black Live Matter Protests in Harlem (if it applies)?

At the beginning of the Black Lives Matter Protests, I came across a march on Broadway and a rally in Riverbank State Park. It seemed like a positive energy and a peaceful way to make a point. I have heard a lot of different viewpoints about the Black Lives Matter movement, and I would really like to know what I can do to help advance the cause of fairness to all people. I am aware that I’ve had a privileged life, so I feel somewhat unqualified to comment on this topic, and I wasn’t sure whether I should answer it at all.

Are you a local or know someone who is? Want to be part of our new ongoing Your World Q&A series?  Answer the five questions above (plus the Bonus) and send a high-quality headshot (preferably horizontal. Only you in the photo, no kids, no pets, no spouse) to harlemworldinfo@yahoo.com, with the words in “Your World” in the subject line and we just may include you next! We may not be able to use every submission, but we certainly thank you for taking part!

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Harlem World Magazine is a lifestyle and brand for anyone who has a Harlem state of mind, dedicated to news, history, the renaissance and stories that celebrate our lifestyle.

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