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For quite some time we have been bombarded by some of our elected officials about ‘The New Bronx’, but what exactly is it?

Simply put, the Bronx Borough President’s office has been working hard on luring developers and investors into our borough and one of the top tactics has been to highlight many of our achievements.

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Whether it has been our dramatic decrease in crime, or the billions of dollars spent on development in the past decade or the fact that our population is growing, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr doesn’t miss an opportunity to call it, ‘The New Bronx’.

New? Did we relocate somewhere else or founded a new Bronx in some new world?

Not to my knowledge.

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‘The New Bronx’ mantra is very insulting to the Bronx for many reasons but primarily because it is a campaign to whitewash our borough and scrub it clean from the grit that made it what it is today.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if they said, “Hey, check out what’s new in The Bronx,” rather than this New Bronx thing.

The Bronx has an image problem for the past 40 plus years but this isn’t the kind of branding or rebranding we need. Heck, the Bronx already IS a brand.

There is no New Bronx as the powers that be would like you to believe but what we have is The Bronx and its people, the working class poor and middle class striving to make their dreams come true along with those of affluent means as well.

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The people who were abandoned during the burning years, forgotten and unimportant to the government agencies who neglected us along with landlords who set flames to our homes.

The Bronx of today is a product of the resiliency that grew out from those years of strife and a people who learned how to do things for themselves rather than wait for others.

The Bronx of today is the same of 100 years ago when we officially became Bronx County; a borough of immigrants seeking to move up in the world and achieve the legendary ‘American Dream’. A borough of 3rd and 4th generation American citizens, strong and proud all working together to make this place our corner of New York City.

Sure we have had many great changes but does that make us a new place? The changing face of Manhattan over the past 20 years didn’t earn it the title of the New Manhattan. Why? Because it wasn’t new. It’s a city that’s ever evolving and ever changing. When Brooklyn went through its renaissance, it wasn’t called the ‘New Brooklyn’ so why are we allowing it here?

Our great metropolis has always been a city in flux and never in stasis.

Rather than focus and pander to developers (read: GENTRIFICATION) who will ultimately just want to squeeze out the low income families and middle class from The Bronx, we should be focusing on strengthening said communities.

There is room for all here in The Bronx but following the New Bronx call isn’t the way to go.

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It’s a marketing disaster for all it talks about is the bottom line of dollars and cents; the language of developers (read again: GENTRIFICATION) — and completely ignores The Bronx’s greatest resource: its people. It is a ploy and a green light to others saying, “Yes, it’s ok to come to the Bronx now (GENTRIFICATION), feel free to push up our rents and push out our people and small businesses.”

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The cost of the “New Bronx” mantra is already apparent; we almost lost our only bookstore—Barnes & Noble, developers are flocking to the South Bronx and snatching up land along the Harlem River Waterfront with grandiose plans on trying to emulate Brooklyn (why do we have to be like Brooklyn? We are The Bronx and proud).

The New Bronx isn’t for The Bronx but for others who were and continue to be afraid to step foot onto the mainland and discover what’s already here and in place which is nothing ‘New’.

We’ve gotten this far and have accomplished so much without having to repackage and rebrand ourselves so why now, why this?

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Want to talk about The Bronx to the world? Want to show them how we’re no longer that borough created by careless media, yellow journalism, and government neglect ? Then showcase our rich culture, our fierce loyalty which we carry in our hearts for The Bronx.

Let’s stop this nonsense of ‘The New Bronx’, we don’t need it to continue our trajectory along a positive road.

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The New Bronx is for wimps who don’t have the chutzpah to face the Real Bronx.

As seen at the Hutchinson Metro Center / Image courtesy of Myra Hill
As seen at the Hutchinson Metro Center / Image courtesy of Myra Hill

Note: This post was originally posted on August 4, 2014 and has been updated on April 13, 2015.

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