We are a diverse and resilient people, here in The Bronx.
Bronxites are an extremely proud group of people considering that many would dare ask what do we have to be proud about?
We not only survived abandonment, the arson which burned neighborhoods to the ground, rampant drug problems, violence and other ills but we rebuilt our borough without the aid of greedy outside interests.
We lost over 400,000 people in the 70s as they fled the devastating impacts of planned shrinkage where our government willfully denied us the most basic of services such as garbage removal and even health care by shutting down hospitals.
When we began the process of rebuilding our neighborhoods, they became international success stories that are still studied by urban planners and students alike such as with Melrose Commons in Melrose and the scores of new housing and homeownership opportunities that rose from that activism across The Bronx.
As the rest of the city began gentrifying and the long-time working class and low income residents were pushed from neighborhoods like Chelsea, The East Village, Williamsburg and in more recent years Harlem, The Bronx sat back quietly.
Watching for we knew the day would come when investors and developers would turn their eyes towards us, see the fruits of our labor through, blood, sweat, tears—and lives lost—and begin to “discover” new neighborhoods where an existing culture already existed and existed long before Europe descended upon these lands to claim them for their own if we really want to go there.
What is happening right now to The Bronx is just that.
Columbus has landed and is claiming our home for the oligarchy, the one percent who owns the wealth of this nation and world.
People of color are disproportionately negatively impacted by these acts and gentrification but whites are not immune either.
And that very fact is what makes this a strong and resilient borough.
With the tasteless events of last Thursday when The Chetrit Group and Somerset Partners held the Macabre Suite gentrification and rebranding event in Port Morris, Bronxites of all colors from all rungs of the economic ladder, from all corners of the world cried out in disgust.
Why? Because we were all under attack. Our trauma was mocked and used as a prop for the developers and their agendas.
Those that could leave The Bronx or the South Bronx did but not without scars of their own and those that stayed paid an even higher price and many times with their lives.
But when the odds are firmly stacked up against you, it becomes a huge task to become upwardly mobile.
Just look at the dwindling middle class the the ever expanding gulf between the lower income people and the wealthy.
No one is against improving the Bronx and making it a better place. If that were the case we wouldn’t be at this point where the population rebounded to just a few thousands shy of its height.
Many argue that those against gentrification are against development and such improvements but they are wrong.
We just want it done in a just and equitable way where no one gets displaced and everyone gets to enjoy the fruits of a hard working community.
So where do we go from here?
We must continue a united front despite our differences and begin by not voting individuals into office who sell us out like our borough president Ruben Diaz Jr, his father State Senator Ruben Diaz, like Assembly Speaker Heastie, and every single one who vote with their pockets and not the constituents they are charged with representing.
We must lobby city hall to come up with true, affordable housing and policies that will end the cycle of poverty which exists in our borough and other neighborhoods because who wants to truly remain poor all their lives?
The events of last week was not the beginning nor will it be the end. It is neither the cause of what will happen but a symptom of just how wrong things are in our city and world.
But it is a battle cry for us to not let our guard down and get to work.
What will YOU do to truly make this an even better Bronx than we the people have already done?