Using archival and rhetorical methods, “Just Be Quiet” analyzes discourse about “noise” produced by New York City's leading black newspaper, the New York Amsterdam News, from 1945 to 1955, a period when many white Americans came to perceive cities as loud, dangerous, and increasingly brown. The Amsterdam News provides an important new perspective on “noise,” differing from the now well-documented perceptions of white police and complainants, and helps sound studies rethink bifurcated definitions of noise as either “silenced” or “resistant.” I argue that the Amsterdam News' coverage assumes “noise” to be both community defining and key to forging shared space, contributing toward what I call “decolonizing listening” among its readers, a critical practice making connections between black and Puerto Rican New Yorkers much more audible while amplifying the fact that Harlem's noisiest elements actually stemmed from forced segregation: overcrowding, little zoning and code enforcement, antiquated transportation, and over- or underpolicing.

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