Sunday morning I woke up and instead of falling back asleep for a few hours more, I decided to seize the day. Before taking a shower, as usual, I spent a few minutes checking e-mails and social media notifications. I am tuned in 24/7 and usually read about any kind of Bronx press while scouring various Facebook groups and Twitter feeds. I soon discover a fellow Bronx activist had inboxed an article in the New York Times about the Bronx and told me to take a look, which I promptly did, still half asleep.
I have learned to expect that anytime somebody specifically e-mails me an article on the subject of my home borough, it is often not something flattering, and rather because damage control must be done. The Bronx is the borough that everybody loves to hate. Since the 1970s, it has become accepted that anytime the Bronx is ever mentioned in the media, the press will be negative. If there is a positive spin to it, it’s usually because some real estate broker or power player’s pockets are being lined in some way.
The article published yesterday, entitled A Dad Grows in the Bronx, was no different. By the title I tried to convince myself that I’d be wrong and perhaps pleasantly surprised. However, less than a paragraph in came the punchline, where the author takes a cheap shot at us, playing off a typical Bronx stereotype. What’s more is that while the writer claims to have lived here for four years, he did not even know the correct name of his neighborhood or of a major street adjacent to his (corrections were made after a number of readers mentioned it in their comments.)
His essay is punctuated with anecdotes about shoot outs, drug raids, and the “consolation” of being forced to feed his toddler Mexican-style cheese bought at a bodega- you know, all the typical things said about the Bronx. Still, I read to the end in hope that this downtrodden tale would redeem itself and the author and his family would realize the beauty of this borough. No such luck. By the end of the story, the family moves to the hip Queens neighborhood of Astoria where his kid is now able to feast on gourmet cheese and Greek pastries.
The article left a bad taste in my mouth and I immediately commented on the NYT site, who decided to magically make some of my painstakingly written relies disappear. I posted the article wide and far, encouraging others to comment as well. I was also quickly able to locate his Twitter account, where he is publicly gloating over the triumph of having his work published in the Times. Rather than attacking him, I decided to tread lightly a first, though that technique was shortlived.
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