What Is the Bronx, Anyway, Asks New York Magazine Writer

Screenshot from New York Magazine's tweet of the article.
Screenshot from New York Magazine’s tweet of the article.

Ben Wallace-Wells, a writer for New York Magazine wrote a piece called, ‘What is The Bronx, Anyway?’ in which the native Bronxite seems to think we, as a borough lack an identity or have some sort of identity crisis.

He couldn’t be so completely wrong.

Wallace-Wells talks about that we’re lagging so far behind the other boroughs in terms of identity but what he misses is that THAT is our identity. Simply put, The Bronx is our identity, it is our way of life, it is our rich history that is often misrepresented in the mainstream media, including in this article by Ben Wallace Wells.

He states:

“The Bronx, Anthony Bourdain said this fall on an episode of Parts Unknown devoted to the borough, “is a big blank space in a lot of people’s minds. Including me and I live, what, ten minutes away.” Bourdain was on to something. An abiding elusiveness has seemed to grip the borough ever since the great crime reductions made the place safe: What is the Bronx, anyway? Everyone can agree that the general situation north of the Harlem River has improved since the Dinkins administration, that the Bronx is no longer simply a hellhole, but the hellhole has been replaced by a semiotic emptiness. The cradle of hip-hop, yes, but that was an awfully long time ago; an immigrant place, sure, but much less so than Queens. I’m from the place, and so I have a churlish, tribal defensiveness about it, but I’ve also come to suspect that one reason the Bronx lags so far behind in the identity sweepstakes is that the borough still hasn’t really figured out what it is.” via What Is the Bronx, Anyway? — NYMag.

Here we have, yet again, someone trying to force an identity upon us, much like our misguided Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr with his “New Bronx” mantra and desperate attempt to rebrand a borough that doesn’t need rebranding—it’s the people of the world both within our borough and outside that need to come to recognize the great things we have going for us and that we don’t need  a Brooklyn-like identity.

He speaks that we’re much less of an in immigrant place but doesn’t talk about the richness and diversity of our borough and how the immigrant populations have changed throughout the centuries in our borough which has added to the very cultural fabric and wonderful tapestry that is The Bronx; how our people have been movers and shakers in the world and continue to be so.

We have an identity, we know who we are and that is what matters. Frankly, I don’t understand this urge, this need for outside validation and acceptance.

Wallace-Wells further states:

“Of all the places in Manhattan’s general orbit, the Bronx is (and this is its enduring strangeness) both the poorest and the least alienated. That every other place is more distinguishable is true in part because every other place has taken greater pains to contrast itself with Manhattan. Brooklyn, after the accelerating differences of the past decade, now stands in contrast to Manhattan in virtually every way: As a more Bohemian place, a poorer place, a more communal place, and a more ideological place. Queens, with its density of upwardly mobile newcomers and its agglomeration of little lawns, casts a longing eye eastward, toward the Island. Oppositional, conservative Staten Island is atavistic — an idea of what the outer boroughs might have been if the last two decades had never happened.”

Where is this guy living? The Bronx isn’t distinguishable? This piece wouldn’t surprise me as much if it were written a journalist in the Midwest or outside of this country but this is coming from a native son of The Bronx.

Read his full article and let us know what you think: What Is the Bronx, Anyway? — NYMag.

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.