When is a minority not a minority?
NEW YORK, NY – Last year, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a civil rights lawsuit with the federal government to eliminate testing as the sole basis for admissions to top public schools in New York City, such as Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech and Stuyvesant, since it discriminated against ethnic minorities. They argued that factors such as school grades, teacher recommendations and personal experience be taken into account, which would make the admissions process similar to university admissions. However, the majority of students admitted to these top NYC public schools are ethnic minorities. They’re Asians.
According to the New York Times, approximately 59% of the students enrolled in the eight specialized high schools are Asian. In 1971, the Stuyvesant High School student body was 10% Black, 4% Hispanic, and 6% Asian with the rest being White but is 72% Asian and around 4% percent are Black or Hispanic in 2012. Based on concerns about the lack of test preparation from minority groups, the city initially offered a free test-prep program to Black and Hispanic students and later to all students. However, it was still an issue because the majority of students enrolled in the public test program are Asians.
The Times article exploring this controversy spent considerable time profiling the Asian students who were accepted into the top NYC high schools. One account was about a son of Chinese immigrants who often sacrificed weekends studying for the high school entrance exam. He rarely saw his parents because they worked long shifts.
Other Asian students profiled came from families that either lived in Third World conditions or emigrated from countries experiencing violence. These families managed to pool their limited resources to ensure their kids had the time and money needed to do well in school and pass the high school entrance exam.
Although the writer made efforts to show these students made sacrifices and worked hard to be in these schools, he also made a point of emphasizing their “foreignness”. In the same article, the writer quoted Jerome Krase, a professor emeritus in sociology at Brooklyn College, suggesting Asian students are culturally obligated to do well since “[They] hold the honor of the family in their hands“, which implies they are different from Americans.
Moreover, the interviews with non-Asian parents were critical of the current admissions process. One parent agreed with expanding admissions to consider more than just the entrance exam results while another parent felt that it was abnormal for students to sacrifice weekends just to prepare for the entrance exam. Despite these criticisms, both parents have children who are preparing for the entrance exam.
While it is true that Asians make up the majority of students in the top specialized high schools in New York City, other groups such as Blacks, Hispanics and Whites also successfully passed the tests. Instead of just profiling Asian students and emphasizing their ‘foreignness’ and their family’s limited links to American culture, the writer should have also profiled Black and Hispanic students who successfully passed the exam to show that success is not limited to Asians.
Interviewing parents of successful Black or Hispanic students would give readers ideas of how non-Asian parents and their children worked around their respective challenges to succeed since they might be more relatable to readers than the Asian students and families profiled in the article. As a result, the article appears to perpetuate the idea that Asians are undermining the perceived character of New York City’s top public schools and unintentionally promoting tensions with other ethnic groups in the city due to their “foreign values”.
Another area the writer should have explored is the root cause for test prep programs.
It is strange that students have to enroll in test preparation programs to prepare for a high school admission exam that supposedly tests students on items they should have learned in the city’s primary and middle schools. If the primary and middle public schools are properly teaching their students, then there should not be a disparity between students enrolled in test prep programs and those that are not since the exam is based on things they should have learned in school.
Sadly, these disparities suggest there is an issue with the quality of public school education in the city, not of the race of students in the city’s top high schools.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund believes that changing the current admissions process into a holistic process would solve the problems with the current system that allegedly gives wealthier families an advantage due to their abilities to get better test preparation. However, this change would actually harm many poor immigrant Asian families and may not necessarily help the intended Black or Hispanic students in high school admissions.
If the city switches to a holistic approach, wealthier parents would still find ways to ensure their children have the means to join extracurricular activities, enroll in better primary or middle schools for improved grades, hire admissions counselors to develop strong admissions essays, and still send their children to test preparation programs. The less well-off, regardless if they are Black, Hispanic and Asian would still be at a disadvantage in the admissions process just like for university admissions. Most of all, in the midst of this controversy, the status quo for many wealthy families and their children would still be preserved.
Read more at TLR: It’s OK to discriminate against Asians (for high school admissions) | The Libertarian Republic http://thelibertarianrepublic.com/ok-discriminate-asians-high-school-admissions/#ixzz2jk3XymkV
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Raising a glass to Ron
By HELEN FREUND and TODD VENEZIA
Last Updated: 6:52 AM, June 6, 2011
Posted: 11:02 PM, June 5, 2011
There’s one congressman who will never have to pay for a drink in Manhattan.
Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian-leaning Republican presidential candidate from Texas, has become an unlikely hero among bar and restaurant workers as he fights for a bill that would end all taxes on tips — the bread and butter of bartenders and waiters.
Last Thursday, a group of Paul’s Big Apple supporters, called the Ron Paul NYC Liberty HQ, held a Manhattan pub crawl in support of the legislation.
“It’s just not right. That money is supposed to be a gratuity for [the workers], not for the government,” said Dominic Inferrera, 38, a volunteer with the group.
“I worked as a server for 10 years, and I know how hard it can be,” he said. “The sad thing is that a lot of the servers end up getting audited at the end of the year and usually work so hard that they don’t have the time or financial resources to handle it.”
Paul introduced the Tax Free Tips Act of 2011 in March. The measure would end all income tax, Social Security withholding and other federal levees on any tips earned by salaried workers.
“Unlike regular wages, a service-sector employee usually has no guarantee of, or legal right to, a tip,” Paul said in 2009, when he introduced a similar bill.
“Instead, the amount of a tip usually depends on how well an employee satisfies a client. Since the amount of taxes one pays increases along with the size of tip, taxing tips punishes workers for doing a superior job.”
As Liberty HQ members spread the word of Paul’s proposal to bar workers around the city, they got enthusiastic support.
At the Wicker Park bar on 83rd and Third Avenue, bartender Kristin Rocco, 24, said, “People just don’t understand what it’s like to work for a living in the service industry.”
“It’s already a big blow to just receive a meager 15 to 20 percent tip for the amount of work we do.”
At nearby Dylan Murphy’s, bartender Gavin Ward said he was a Paul backer. “I like the sound of this bill — I hope it passes,” he said. “I don’t mind paying my taxes like every other citizen, but the way we servers and bartenders have to do it — on an already meager wage — well, it’s just no good.”
Unfortunately for the bar workers, the bill doesn’t have a good track record. Similar measures Paul sponsored in 2007 and 2009 failed to pass.
Back a few weeks ago, I put together a quick blurb including my thoughts on hipsters and why their attempts at synthetic originality make my blood boil. The opinion generated a fair amount of feedback thanks to Diehipster.com, and in all fairness some of the negative commentary that came my way does make a tiny bit of sense seeing as, on paper, I could have better supported my reasons for having such hostility toward the brand that is a Brooklyn hipster. But, instead of methodically plotting out an itinerary of verbal-assault through which I take over Williamsburg by annihilating one hipster at a time consequently reclaiming Mother Brooklyn for the natives, I rather haphazardly ran with the ideas that spewed out of my mind and the result of such is here.
Consequentially, I decided to construct a follow up piece and have thought long and hard about how I’d like to present my thoughts accordingly. Originally I considered a clearly drawn out essay complete with supporting documentation and factoids that cannot and would not be debated may be the way to go, but that just seemed like it would lack flavor. Next I thought maybe something of a dedication to the douchery that is Williamsburg and Bushwick by means of a photo-tribute might work. I picture this piece containing things like this, or this(nice cheetah tat). Yet again, this just didn’t seem like the best approach. Then, within a period of only a week, NYC time, I realized that this piece was pretty much writing itself via the asinine comments that come out of many a hipsters mouth/hands on the internet.
And so, I bring to you – The top 5 reasons why this Brooklyn native is completely fed up and disgusted with the hipster population of 2010 Brooklyn. These appear in no particular order and each one provides to me an equal amount of nausea.
Example Number 1:
In this piece written by Barret Brown of Bushwick BK, it is crystal clear that the general attitude of a transplanted Brooklyn resident is that of superiority and elitism. Brown actually goes so far as to refer to the non-hipstery folk who move to Brooklyn from afar as either ‘Puerto Rican’ or a variant of ‘awful Balkan‘. First point of interest here is why Brown feels the need to conjoin the thoughts in his sentence referring to one grouping of people as awful – and the other simply as Puerto Rican? He got a good tongue lashing from natives and transplants alike for that one, and even though he later produced a follow-up piece in an attempt to not be labeled the racist he is, the damage was clearly already done.
I have news for you Brown, each and every one of us Brooklyn natives ancestral lines can be drawn back to other countries. My family migrated over from Italy during a time that made them the lower-class working immigrant. They worked feverishly to establish themselves and create environments that were safe for their women and children. They brought over with them a work ethic and an understanding of what it is to worry about putting food on the table each night, something that you, you feeble minded arrogant idiot, obviously have no respect for.
Later in Brown’s blurb, he really shows himself – and all other hipster garbage, to be of the selective class in their own minds. He goes into detail by describing natives as seemingly falling into one of the following:
“People who honk at parked school buses, throw old televisions out of windows, play shitty Top 40 dance music from parked cars at 600 decibels, scream at bodega clerks, avoid branch libraries, give money to Pentecostal preachers, buy t-shirts that say “Hi Hater” on one side and “Bye Hater” on the other and then wear those t-shirts in public, await the Jewish Messiah, worship the Christian Messiah, and play the lottery.”
Now – here’s where I really get angry. Yes, Brooklyn natives do buy tee-shirts that say Hi Hater on one side and Bye Hater on the other and then wear said tee-shirts, they do play lotto, they do wait for the second coming of Jesus and they do scream at Bodega clerks. (That is Bodega with a big “B” out of respect for the working man – who may just be, gasp, Puerto Rican!) And you know what, Brown… They will continue to do all of abovementioned things because that is who they are. Their patient wait for the Messiah is not done so out of a deep-rooted need for approval, unlike your every day hipsters attempt to be an Eco-friendly vegan. You people don’t give a fuck about the environment – you’re out there spending your mommy and daddy’s money on a surplus of PBR each weekend when that money can easily be going toward Eco-research. What you do give a fuck about is fitting into the herds that make up the current face of Williamsburg, and now a good majority of Bushwick. Say what you want about a native Brooklynites propensity to play shitty top 40 dance music out of their car radio systems but this much is true: I’d prefer the streets be littered with nothing but inaudible track over track of every horrific dance song you can possibly think of, a veritable overlap of an unrecognizable mish mash of shit, than have to endure one more fucking Siren festival of Indy garbage that appeals to you spurious elitist snobs.
Example Number 2:
There are various street festivals that happen all over Brooklyn every summer. This is Brooklynite culture. This is what we, as natives, looked forward to during the adolescent years. These festivals are a celebration of who we are, whether it be Italian, African, Hasid, Latino, or Asian – each and every summer there are myriad events honoring our roots. NY, the melting pot, is where diversity lives. And then you have some fucking asshole with absolutely no respect for lineage – or a culture outside of their own that will make a comment as offensive as this one:
“It was a tiny parade, and they shut down Graham Avenue?” said Mr. Tocco, 26, an actor. “There was one float and a horrible marching band. It was very ironic. The Latino parades are more festive.”
That’s right they shut down Graham Avenue you little asshole. They shut down Graham Avenue because this is a tradition. It is a tradition that lived here way before you and your 7 roommates. Williamsburg, pre-infestation, had a sizable Italian population. It still does, to some degree. The people who look forward to this event every year have deep rooted history in Taggiano, Italy. They are devout and they love their Saint – and not you or any other bearded conformist should have even the slightest commentary as it pertains to any inconveniences you may suffer as a result of a street closure. You don’t have to like the band, or the saint, or anything about organized religion for that matter –but you damn better respect it because you’re in THEIR home, not the other way around.
This total disrespect of a culture throws me into rage. The hypocrisy as I see it is that there is a devotion to Brooklyn in a hipsters writings and their artistic expression – and then there are the comments like that made by Tocco, one completely negating the other. Brooklyn today is not the only Brooklyn to have ever lived. If you want to love Mother Brooklyn then you better learn what she is about. She is about religion – and she is about street festivals and devout Christians or Jews or whatever other outrageous devotion that may exist. Brooklyn is about diversity and coexisting. Why is it that the neighborhood I grew up in had absolutely no issues when it came to Jewish and Roman Catholic Italian families integrating? My friends were a 50/50 mix of Jewish and Catholic – and we played together and ate together, and lived in peace and unison. There was no disrespect, ever. We understood our differences and we kept them in mind when dealing with each other. If I had a Jewish friend, I didn’t ring their bell for hide and go seek past afternoon on a Friday out of respect for the Shabbat. Why the fuck can’t you all put on some shoulder-covers and respect the Satmars of Williamsburg in the same manner? – I’ll tell you why: it’s because you have no interest in loving Brooklyn for what she is truly about. Your interest is in that of a take-over position. You are all in love with Brooklyn because you’ve come here and turned it into nothing but a mirror image of the small town plebeian existence that you came from.
Fuck Defending Brooklyn – How about Respecting Brooklyn?!
Example Number 3:
Flashback to August 2009 for The MOVE Party organized by the “Lowbrow Society for the Arts” – A moving “art” party that overtook 3 subway cars on the J line thus completely interfering with all of the other paying commuters’ rides to/from work/home/wherever. As reported by Jeremiah Moss of Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York (a GREAT blog!), the partiers rode the J line from the Bowery to Broadway Junction in East New York. They brought beer onto the trains, they brought food onto the trains, and they wore costumes and played instruments like banjos and accordions.
It’s reported that some folks enjoyed the scene and participated by clapping along to the live tunes – or by making use of the flowers that were being handed out to the female passengers, but for the most part it seemed as if the members of this ‘art party’ had pretty much confined the passengers, forcing them to participate in something they may, or very well may not, be into. The best is yet to come, however…
At Broadway Junction, the partiers exited the subway cars and continued their singing and dancing on the platform. The crowd was a mix of costume clad hipsters and black neighborhood locals who were waiting on their train. And then the magic happened, one hipster idiot breaks into song and declares that said tune is:
“All About how Money Doesn’t Mean Anything!!”
Right – Great idea there, douche bag. Come into an area that is completely depraved with your expensive instruments and your costumes and your elite attitude and have a fucking Kumbaya singalong about how money is unimportant… in the ghetto. Smart.
As Jeremiah Moss reported it, here is an exchange that happened between party goers and what I picture to be a local:
“This is not a good stop,” he said. “Don’t you think if you were here all alone, you’d be mugged right now?”
“I don’t believe that,” said the partiers.
“Believe it. You don’t know where you’re at.”
“Yes, we do,” said the partiers, “This is our train, too. We ride this train every day.”
And, here’s where I get angry, again. – The way I see it, there are two possibilities here:
ONE: The hipster really didn’t have any idea where he was and he was just acting like he did so as not to look like a complete dolt in front of his herd – (but I don’t believe this to be true at all)
TWO: The hipster did in fact know where he was and went forward with his little ‘Money doesn’t mean shit’ song with absolutely no regard to the fact that more than half of the 90,000 East NY residents are reported as living below the poverty line and are on some form of Public Assistance.
It is this flippant attitude with respect to the struggle of another human being that enrages me. There is little understanding of the real fight. There is little attempt made to submerge oneself into the true grit and grime as it exists in these areas and instead of fully exposing themselves to the reality of poverty and strife, hipsters will come into an area and mock its residents with fabled stories of how life is grand and they shouldn’t have worries or woes because money is unimportant.
There is little more I can say about this one – I think it speaks volumes all by itself.
Example # 4
This one is a favorite, and you’ll excuse me if I get really fucking obnoxious and irate as we go through the various reasons why pretending to be a crack dealer deserves a punch in the face.
Maybe they didn’t have a crack epidemic in Ohio but here in Brooklyn, the shit ran rampant for longer than I’d like to remember. New Jack City-esque Crack Houses do not exist only in Nino Brown’s world. They’re very real – and for a good while back in the day, Brooklyn suffered a serious setback with respect to its residents becoming Crack addicted zombies. And here comes Nate Hill, an asshole in a fish-hat, who not only glorifies the act of ‘buying crack’, but does so dressed as a cartoon character, you know, to appeal to the youngsters and such.
The article linked above will tell you that you can only buy his ‘crack candy’ between the hours of 10pm, and 2am, much like a “real drug dealer” – and this little tidbit is reason Number Uno to support my argument that these idiots have no idea what a toll a Crack addiction will take not only the addict but the families and friends of the addicted as well. Newsflash, idiot: crack sales is a 24/7 operation. Do you think that a crackhead limits their usage to an exclusive night-time habit? Do you not comprehend that this addiction will remove every particle of property, every interpersonal relationship will suffer, and every ounce of well being that may reside in your body will diminish as a result of the extreme hold it takes on the addict’s life? Is it funny, to you, Nate Hill? Funny to you that people are dropping dead as a result of over-dose because their feeble hearts cannot take it anymore? You explain your shtick as “amusing theater” that is meant to be taken in jest. Well, I’m sorry if I don’t see the humor in emulating a life style that results in deaths, murders, robberies, rapes, and the overall loss of a person’s livelihood.
This is just one more example of how a hipster finds it amusing to copy the life of the poverty stricken population with little or no understanding of what the real-deal is. The fake crack sales, the brown paper bag Miller-High Life 40’s (for $12.00!! Gtfoh!) they buy at hipster bars, the photography of graffiti in an attempt to feel closer to an urban oasis they’ve created in their little ill shaped minds, all of these acts are prime illustrations of the phantasmagoria they prescribe to themselves.
Example # 5 –
This is a snapshot of a flash ad that BushwickBK.com runs – because, apparently, this is now the face of Bushwick.
I could easily continue to build on this list on a daily basis but that would just be silly at this point. I will, however, continue to support sites like diehipster.com and latfh.com and I’ll do so with the feral attitude that supports my opinions above. In my previous piece some accused me of attempting to assign myself the position of Ambassador of all that is Brooklyn Cool – and that is not at all what I’m about. I don’t think I’m cool, lame, or any other variant of an adjective as it relates to my association with the borough of Brooklyn. What I do think, however, is that I am a girl who was born and raised here and that credential is enough to continue to voice my opinion accordingly. I know this place I call home – and until I up and leave, I will represent the Brooklyn that lives in my heart. If you don’t like it, that’s all the better for me and the rest of the natives out there who are sick of your unconcerned gentrified attitude. Add it to the list of reasons to leave.
The Perfect Hipster Accessory
Date: 2004-08-09, 9:48PM EDT
You’ve got the sexy, shaggy, unkempt greasy-but-not-too-gross hair. You’ve got flawless skin so pale that you glow in the dark. You’ve got the ironic vintage shirt, the shabby corduroy blazer and the chic designer jeans. You’ve got the carefully beat-up Chucks. You’ve got a two room walk-up in Williamsburg which you share with a highly-strung actor, a struggling writer, a freegan and a docile, hairy guy in a poncho who grows weed under the kitchen sink. To top it all off, you’ve got your own up-and-coming post-punk band. You’re almost perfect. But wait a minute. You’re missing something:
The ethnic girlfriend.
Yes, you’ve got the look down but, as we ALL know, nothing’s complete without accessories. You without a ethnic girlfriend is like a messenger bag without thousands of buttons proclaiming your political leanings and your extensive knowledge of music.
Well luckily for you, here I am. Your very own, personal, cute, non-threatening, little Asian. What better way to piss off your wealthy blue-blood Greenwich-Hamptons family, without pushing the line, than to date a shy, quiet, non-threatening Asian chick? Yellow’s close enough to white, anyway. After all, you wouldn’t want your parents to cut you off from your monthly allowance – you might have to get a job and give up your dreams of being a rock star. Anyway, you majored in English and Music at NYU, and teaching’s not really your thing.
Also, you really need somebody to drape your arm around after your show, to hand you a beer as soon as you come off stage and to tell you just how good you were. You were SO good. Yes, someone who will complement your style without overshadowing you. Want to coordinate outfits? I’ve got a vintage crocheted minidress that would look so good with your tweed jacket.
I can be anything you want, baby. Want me to wear only black and white, sneer and blow smoke into people’s eyes? I can do that. Want me to dress like I smoked a bowl of ice and then hitched a ride with Marty McFly in the Delorean? I got you covered. Want me to impress your snotty friends with my extensive vocabulary and vast knowledge of International Relations? I’ll read-up on my current events just for you, even though I hide copies of Star magazine in my copy of the Voice. After all, I did go to an elite boarding school and then art-school, where I majored in graphic design.
If I hadn’t, would I be the well-dressed, cooler-than-thou hipster I am today?
Also, I’m stick-thin, fashionably bisexual and smoke bidis. I am publicly a socialist but am secretly a rampant materialist. Do you think I actually go to Sal-Val for these ironic shirts? Please. I shop exclusively at Andy’s Cheepee’s, Cheapjack’s and Screaming Mimi’s. So what if I have to pay the finder’s fee? It’s not like I don’t have a trust-fund, anyway. I just wait tables at the vegan restaurant to look like I’m slumming it. I don’t actually need the money.
So. You need to have me hanging like a wristband off your lanky arm and you know it. Please, bassists and drummers only – and send a picture. I only pretend I’m not shallow.
this is in or around Probably the L train
Anti-hipster sentiment is really based on a love of people who have jobs, careers, pay taxes and contribute to the general public welfare by good citizenry. Although the hipsters think they have healthier and more fulfilling social lives, this stems from their adolescent weltanshaung, where superiority is perceived rather than achieved.
But this is not their fault. Since their mommies and daddies for the most part scrimped, saved and borrowed to give them fine liberal arts college educations, they never suspected that the foul and degenerate state of academia would produce a generation of ‘beta-minuses’ such as we behold today, totally devoid of any socially-redeeming values.
Judging from their comments, a lot of pro-hipster sentiment evidently comes from “poseur” proto-intellectual homo-erotophyte types who feel that the more sensitive, intelligent, physically slimmer, and culturally aware hipster ideal of so-called of masculinity is the epitome of ‘metrosexuality’. And of course this is as right as it is also utterly meaningless.
The ‘culture’ that they are ‘aware’ of is unrelated to anything which has the slightest contribution to society, since it is based on the hipster’s own narcissistic self-exploration with it’s central focus on purchasing the next size smaller hat or jacket when it is not engaged in masturbatory acts with an Apple product of some sort. It is goals like this which not only define the hipster, but help to identify these simpleton exhibitionists.
At some point in their lives hipsters probably got mocked and ridiculed, or even had the crap smacked out of them by their own former classmates & families for acting like the sarcastic smug little adolescents they are and are no longer welcome in their own home towns, never mind home.
Hence they come to NYC like the rest of the world’s unwashed, but unlike the hard-working foreigner (illegal or not) who within a year or two of landing here has a job, or a business or both and is working hard to achieve something, the hipster lays about diddling with it’s cellphone and or laptop, sucking down “free trade” (WTF?) coffee and has maybe a part-time gig or gigs in things like ‘urban design’ and ‘media’ or some such other sophomoric aphorism when it is not seen smirking behind a copy of the local free newspaper.
If you think about it, the rest of the City, never mind society are well aware the sum total of the hipster ‘contribution’ aka “revolution” is about mocking and ridiculing the rest of society and their mentalities. It’s not about meat and muscle anymore. Hipster sentiment often comes from people who simply can’t keep up with normal activities and imagine some vague, undefined “social change” where the lazy, unproductive and indolent will continue to consume like parasites in the fantasy world they have made for themselves,
In this self-delusional world they actually believe others are envious of them
Remember, the hipster will always come up with syllogisms such as “you can always rate the amount of insecurity someone has by the amount they rant about hipsters” because that’s all they can do in defense of an empty existence.
They’re always trying to school everyone else, no matter how little they themselves know..
Anarchist Ninja on Hipsters, Anarchists. For more hipster hate go to http://www.diehipster.com
“The Yuppies Are Coming? How To Know When the Bronx is Being Gentrified”
by Mark Naison
During the last month, I have had the opportunity to lead walking tours and bus tours of Bronx neighborhoods for at least 6 different groups. I always enjoy these tours, not only because it gives me the opportunity to play some of my favorite music, eat my favorite foods, and talk about the rich history of the communities were are in, but because there is so much new construction taking place in neighborhoods which were once written off by most of the world.
However, one of the concerns that I have, along with many of the people I have led on these tours, is whether the Bronx neighborhoods undergoing redevelopment are going to remain affordable for their residents. Are neighborhoods, like Morrisania, Hunts Point, Melrose, Mott Haven, Tremont and Morris Heights going to eventually go the way of Harlem, Williamsburgh and the Lower East Side and experience spiraling rents and an influx of wealthy newcomers who will ultimately push out working families and people living on fixed incomes?
While I do not rule out some gentrification occurring in the Lower Concourse area or the neighborhoods adjoining Yankee Stadium, I would say, based on what I observed, that much of the Bronx will remain immigrant and working class for the foreseeable future.
As someone who lives in a neighborhood- Park Slope Brooklyn- which has been dramatically transformed from a multiracial lower middle class community into a wealthy white enclave in the last twenty years, I have learned to identify certain visual markers of gentrification. I am going to share these markers with you and then ask you to make your own judgment of whether Gentrification is transforming the Bronx
1. Yellow cabs. When I moved to Park Slope in 1977, you could see almost no yellow cabs in the neighborhood. Now, thirty years later, they are a regular presence at all hours of the day and night, taking people to and from work, and to and from Manhattan theaters and restaurants. During my six tours of the Bronx, lasting approximately 15 hours and encompassing almost every Bronx neighborhood South of the Cross Bronx Expressway and west of the Bronx Rive, I DID NOT SEE ONE YELLOW CAB!
2. Outdoor cafes. When you go to Park Slope, or for that matter Harlem, Williamsbugh, Fort Greene and the Lower East Side on a summer evening, you will see hundreds of people sitting in outdoor cafes eating dinner or socializing over drinks. These range from small places with three or four tables with larger restaurants with 50 to 100 people sitting outdoors. There may be some outdoor cafes in Mott Haven, but I did not see a single one in Morrisania, Tremont, or Morris Heights.
3. “Designer Dogs.” Neighborhoods like Park Slope, or Dumbo, where my daughter lives are filled with obscure and expensive dogs that you once only saw in the Westminster Kennell Club Dog Show- Bichon Frisees, English Bulldogs, Greyhounds, Weimeraners, Portuguese Water Dogs and the like. I have nothing against these dogs personally, but you will never see them in working class communities because they are incredibly expensive and make terrible watchdogs. When you have a critical mass of these dogs, the next step is the creation of dog parks where these dogs can socialize under the doting eyes of their owners. Are there any dog parks in the Bronx? Please tell me because I love to see Bichon Frisees and Chihuahuas play with pit bulls!
4. Sushi Bars” When I moved to Park Slope, the only bars we had were for drinking. Now, there are four sushi bars within ten blocks of my house. My dear friend and colleague Dr Natasha Lightfoot told me that a sushi bar just opened two blocks from her apartment in Harlem. Perhaps that is why she and her husband just bought a co-op in the Yankee Stadium area. Will the sushi will follow her to the Bronx. It hasn’t yet!.
5. Health Food Stores and Restaurants. I am all for healthy eating ( though I must say I like BBQ-especially Johnson’s BBQ- better than Tofu!), but there is no question that the opening of health food stores and restaurants is one of the markers of gentrification- they are all over Williamsburgh, the Lower East Side and Park Slope. As an intellectual exercise, I asked one of my tour groups to count the number of health food stores and our bus drove on Tremont Avenue from Southern Boulevard to Sedgwick Avenue, a distance of over three miles. The total-ZERO
6. Starbucks: No self respecting up and coming neighborhood is complete without its Starbucks. The coffee bar is a fixture of life for the young professional class, many of whom can’t imagine a day without their Latte. Needless to say, I did not see a single Starbucks in any of the Bronx neighborhoods I walked or drove through. Six years ago, Starbucks opened a store on Fordham Road four blocks from Fordham. Within a year, it closed.
Now that I’ve given you these markers of gentrification ( and perhaps you can give me others) make up your own mind. Is the Bronx gentrifying? Are its longtime residents- and new arrivals- being pushed out?
My own journeys have left me hopeful that our borough, even as it develops will remain a place that welcomes immigrants and striving families priced out of other sections of New York. The Bronx may not have Starbucks and Sushi bars, but it is full of mosques and churches, bodegas and ethnic groceries, hair braiding salons and travel agencies, and restaurants and take out spots where working class people can eat inexpensively. If we protect the borough’s supply of affordable housing, it may remain that way for the foreseeable future
A Brooklyn native writes about her feelings on street art and the hipsters’ phony attempts to appropriate art as their own. Below are her views on the problem:
I have always had an affinity for art in its various media. I remember when I was in 2nd grade we had this teacher who was very much 1980’s Greenwich Village when it came to her personal style. Gravesend didn’t see much in terms of abstract thinkers and she’ll always stand out in my mind. Around Thanksgiving she had us make turkeys using red-delicious apples, toothpicks and gumdrops. Each toothpick got 3 mixed color small gumdrops on it and then the picks were stuck into the apple to create feathers. For eyes, we used marshmallow and for the nose a small piece of black licorice. I thought she was God.
In around fourth grade we were assigned book reports and short story/creative writing homework. I received little awards and lots of shiny gold stars on my work.
In ninth grade, I raised my hand in freshman English and asked the teacher if we were going to read Shakespeare. Years later I bumped into him and he remarked on his having a fond memory of me for what he thinks will be forever. He said that it is few and far between that a student actually expresses an interest in studying the art form of literature.
Now, I realize that art in of itself is not something that can be easily defined. There have been artists who’ve used human feces over religious works and found their pieces prominently displayed in galleries while other folks out there have so much raw artistic talent running through their veins that it hurts and they can’t catch a break. Art is beauty and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? Right! So let us talk about Graffiti –
Graffiti = Hiphop = NYC
I can remember when being a kid and riding the trains was like being on a moving museum. A mobile gallery of art, throw-ups, fill-ins and the likes. Sure, there was a lot of profanity and pictures of things that the public just doesn’t need to see without signing an “I am over 18” consent form but all in all the trains were the place to display your work as a graffiti-artist. And, in Brooklyn, graffiti artists were aplenty. Once I hit my teenage years I found myself immersed in the NYC rave scene and this is where I really became exposed to the graff scene.
I dated a dude for a while that was pretty heavily involved in all of the negative things that surrounded the rave scene in Brooklyn and NYC in the mid to late 90’s. I am confident in saying that he and his crew of misfits pretty much owned most of the prime real-estate with respect to graffiti spots in the Brooklyn area. They easily kinged the BQE, the B (Now D) elevated subway line, and they were well known amongst the other graffiti crews in the area. I remember late night bombing missions where we’d all dress up in our black hoodies, jeans, and tims and make our way down into the various ditches and tunnels of the NYC Subway system. The crew got the hot spots and the girls played chicky on the lookout tip. I miss the 90’s!
When I started dating Daniel, he and I made a point to go out to various artsy events that seemed interesting to us. We both like art on a grand scale (my taste is far superior to his.. just sayin!) so we thought it’d be nice to incorporate various gallery events as they came up. I remember one of the first events we attended was in a gallery down in Williamsburg (shocker). The evening was a mixed media of documentary and some hanging art. Amongst the bulk of the hanging art were photographs of graffiti. I noticed that these works were signed by the photographer and that the credit for said art was, in a way, being stolen by lens toting hipster assholes. It was super unnerving. All around me were these hipstery pretentious assholes who have absolutely no idea of what is entailed with getting the perfect “spot” to complete a piece that is worthy of being photographed. There are various elements involved when the real artist is canvasing a spot and preparing to throw their paint onto a wall. And then here comes Harry Hipster and his Canon Rebel, or whatever $1000.00 camera his parents bought him when he signed up for art school, and he just stands there, presses a button, and calls this his art.
Are you fucking kidding me or what, hipsters?
They say the best form of flattery is imitation but this isn’t even imitation! Grab a can of Krylon and put your artistic skills to the true test. Be original, have a concept of what an artist’s process is when they’re creating. Do something – but Jesus Christ, don’t just sit there, press a button, and then call it art. That is absolute bullshit and Daniel and I got into a pretty heated debate about this at the Gallery that night.
For some reason that is completely unknown to me, hipsters love to photograph graffiti. If you go to Flickr and look at any of the street-art pools, you will undoubtedly be met with hipster after hipster’s photo accounts. Along side their artistic interpretation of a say, WEED piece, you’ll find pics of their nights out spent drinking felonious amounts of PBR. You’ll also find many girls in headbands and leg-warmers, dudes in skinny jeans, and an air of disgust.
I like to think that the appeal of the street-art photography is a deep-bred need to be closer to things that are generally urban. They are in love with a culture of which they have absolutely no experience. Moving to Brooklyn and living in a neighborhood along side other flocking hipsters does not give you street-cred. You are not tough. You are not Brooklyn. You are not even New York – and anyone that is New York knows that each native NYer fits into a sub-category dictated by the borough in which they grew up. Brooklyn is a stand alone example of this model of thought. Nearly every trip I take outside of the city I am met with “you’re from Brooklyn, right?”. It’s not you’re from New York – or you’re from Manhattan; it’s you’re from Brooklyn, right? – And, that is because people who are truly Brooklynites have no choice but to exhibit it. We are bred with a strength and a character that is dominant. We can take classes to reduce the infliction with which our Brooklyn accents spit out words but the light inside of us that screams Brooklyn never dies out. We live it – and we live it because we are it. You, hipsters, are not it. You are Kansas, you are Missouri, you’re Texas and Nashville. You’re Florida, and you’re Chicago. You are not now, nor will you ever be, Brooklyn.
Brooklyn is earned.
Having a 11— zipcode does not make you gangsta, tough, or even remotely desirable. I have had a 11— zipcode for my entire life and as this blog dictates, I am dying to step outside of the confinement of the 11— stigma. You cannot, for a moment, begin to break down the complexities of growing up in a borough where poverty dominated. Instead, you come here with your trust funds and you move into buildings that are squat-houses because it is cool. Fuck you and your coolness.
Get a clue. Get a grip. Get a talent. Stop robbing real street-artists of their work.
The next gallery show I attend where a hipster is showing a photographed piece of street-art better have the original graffiti artist standing next to the framed print signing autographs or some shit. I’m dead serious – this really enrages me. I’m not sure if it’s simply the act of assigning your name to work that is not your own, or if it’s the sheer arrogance and stupidity with which a hipster will sink to seem like they’re what’s really hood. I have seen this time and time again and I just don’t get it. A bunch of people Daniel attended undergraduate school in Florida are hipsters living in Brooklyn and they’re prime examples of this behavior. They attempt to portray what they believe is a hustler’s life and through their dirty clothes and inexpensive fixies, they’re out working at jobs where their salary is teetering on 6 figures.
Assholes! You had the luxury of attending college – most likely on your daddy’s dime. You went to school, graduated, and have the tools required by the real world to secure a prestigious position. You have secured said position yet you still want to move throughout the world and act like you’re some sort of impoverished defunct. And here I am, at nearly 32 years old facing the fears of not being financially secure so that I can pursue an education. There are no trust-funds in my back pocket, no emergency phone-calls to Daddy when I can’t pay my rent. I live in the real-world . I am the real Brooklyn.
Go the fuck home.
Josh, Brooklyn’s most eligible man uses his mac daddy powers to seduce another Brooklyn girl