Your Anecdotal Census: the Bronx

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

William Bosworth, professor of political science at Lehman College, and director of the Bronx Data Center, talks about sociogeographic changes in the Bronx in the last ten years. Then, Freddy Ferrer, former Bronx Borough President and former mayoral candidate , talks about his borough and the Hispanic population that calls it home. Then, Gary Axelbank, host of BronxTalk, the borough's flagship weekly television talk show, talks about Bronx's changing demographics. Miquela Craytor, executive director of Sustainable South Bronx -- a community group advocating for more green jobs in the Bronx -- discusses the changes she's seen in the last ten years. Finally, Nurah Amatullah, executive director of the Muslim Women's Institute for Research and Development, talks about changes to the Bronx from the perspective of running a food pantry and the availability of healthy food.


Nurah Amat'ullah, Gary Axelbank, William Bosworth, Miquela Crayter and Freddy Ferrer

Comments [33]

Robert from NYC

Born and raised there in one word to describe the changes in the Bronx over the past decades is El... it is El Bronx today.

Jul. 28 2010 09:44 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Dark Symbolist,
I think we agree on immigration, but my issue with William Bosworth was this:
After stating that virtually 100% of Mexicans and Dominicans speak Spanish (the language of their conquerors, if you want to be technical about it) Bosworth at about minute marker 13:19 went on to say that Puerto Ricans in the Bronx, the native born Americans they are…. “20% speak English only” “80% speak English very well” “well you’ve heard of the melting pot… …a lot of people reject the melting pot” “Is it possible a large number of Puerto Ricans will forget they are Hispanic?” “you call yourself Hispanic but you don’t speak Spanish, live in the suburbs and are middle class; what does that means?”
It means he thinks being Hispanic if you’re Puerto Rican and in the Bronx means being poor, Spanish-speaking, and urban.

Jul. 27 2010 02:31 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

First, for accuracy’s sake, European immigrants from the 1600s on through Manifest Destiny didn’t come to a single land under one flag or even a federation and destroy it; hundreds if not thousands of separate nations with unique cultures were destroyed. Immigration into what is now the United States is much, much different; the comparison is apples to oranges.
I’m not sure if our opinions differ on what it means to be American or not because I don’t believe you’ve said what being American means to you. I’d assume we differ on the greater community versus factionalism, or integration and crosspollination versus segregation/ghettoization and cultural isolation. But drawing that conclusion would be unfair to you.
Point is, if you want to be a part of the American experience, embrace it, if you want to be surrounded by the particulars of a foreign culture above that of the eclectic American culture, move to that foreign land.

Jul. 27 2010 02:30 PM
Leslie from The Bronx

I want to correct something I said when calling in to the show today. I said there is a substantial population of Koreans, and Mass in Korean, at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church in University Heights. The Mass is actually in Vietnamese and Spanish for the substantial Vietnamese and Spanish populations in that parish. Most of the callers spoke about Spanish-speaking Bronxites. While there are many residents who speak Spanish, there are many Asian and Eastern European and Middle-Eastern immigrants in the Bronx as well, not to mention the large Irish immigration population in Woodlawn, served by the Irish Immigration office there. That's where the Irish bars have moved to, and some to Kingsbirdge and Riverdale as well.
And, don't forget our neighbors from the Himalayas, Nepal and Bhutan, on University Avenue @ 190th St.

Jul. 27 2010 01:58 PM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

" the US was founded by people who came here and did all of the things you're preaching against: they didn't make cultural adjustments, they denigrated and eradicated the native population, they "thumbed their noses nose at what was here before," they came and expected it to be all about them, etc."

Exactly...and this is widely condemned now and culturally is not generally the ideal of what makes us American...and rightly so.

Jul. 27 2010 01:09 PM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

@ Voter

I really don't think that was the point he was trying to make about Hispanics at all. Anyway, I certainly didn't get that message.

Jul. 27 2010 01:00 PM
Leah from Brooklyn

@ Voter: Just for the record, the US was founded by people who came here and did all of the things you're preaching against: they didn't make cultural adjustments, they denigrated and eradicated the native population, they "thumbed their noses nose at what was here before," they came and expected it to be all about them, etc.

However, the fact that you and I can have such profound disagreements about what it means to be an American is perhaps what makes us more American than anything else.

Jul. 27 2010 12:52 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

I’m sorry if being American means more to me than voting in slightly less corrupt elections and getting national holidays off. If those are the only reasons you’re in this county and the only value you see in being AMERICAN in the United States of America, then my all means go back to where you or your great-great-grandparents came from.
If, on the other hand, you want to be a part of a cultural experience that borrows from all others where people from anywhere in the world can come TOGETHER and live in relative peace and harmony, then my all means stay. But don’t come to America then complain that is not just like home, don’t come to America then not expect to have some cultural adjustments, don’t come to America and thumb your nose at what was here before you, don’t come to American and expect it to be all about you and not all about US (pun intended), don’t come to America and recreate your old home instead of embracing your new one; home is still there and nothing is stopping you from going back.
As for the guest’s comments about “blending in”, it sounded pretty repugnant to me since he outlined Hispanics as being poor, urban, and Spanish speaking… the same way being Black gets coded as being less poor, urban, and hooked on “Ebonics”. Either I heard him incorrectly or what he said was just plain offensive.

Jul. 27 2010 12:17 PM
DarkSymbolist from NYC

I fail to see what's wrong with "blending in" to the greater culture of the country you move to. Not sure why that equates( to some people ) to losing all of your identity. Surely there is a happy middle ground as opposed to two black and white extremes. Better one people influenced by one another's cultures as opposed to a bunch of fractious nationalists.

Jul. 27 2010 12:07 PM
Leah Downey from Bronx

Caller moved into a relatively high crime area and is shocked, shocked that HE became a crime victim! If you're shot in the face, call an ambulance or take a cab to the nearest hospital. You can deal with the police later. My guess the caller will be moving out or, is more likely, is "safely" holed up in another borough, and will not be joining those of us who have been in the forefront in confronting crime, lack of jobs, and failing schools in the Bronx for the past decade.

Jul. 27 2010 12:02 PM
Shanice from NYC

Hey if "blending in" means not writing on subway trains and not robbing people, I'm all for it.

Jul. 27 2010 12:02 PM
Janet from Park Slope

Why does WNYC equate multiculturalism with all things Moslem?

Jul. 27 2010 11:56 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Does guest Miquela Craytor believe we should have INDUSTRY ONLY zones in our city with residential development being strictly prohibited? It seems part of the problem is developers being allowed to build in commercial and residential zones driving employment out of New York City. Not everyone can be a graphic designer, dish washer/waiter, or banker, industrial jobs are needed in NYC.

Jul. 27 2010 11:54 AM
Leah from Brooklyn

@ Voter: when my family came, there was a strong stigma against being Irish, so they quickly shed many of their traditions to assimilate. The radio guest was advocating "blending in" in a way that sounded like code for "be less Hispanic." Many of the people you talk about who "fly their own flags" are, in fact, American citizens - e.g., Puerto Ricans, who are as American as anyone born in Ohio or Utah. Should they abandon that heritage and tradition to fit your expectations of what an "American" looks like?

Jul. 27 2010 11:54 AM
old greenwich

filthy, lazy, no english and amazing food, where do i sign up!

Jul. 27 2010 11:50 AM
fd from bs

Is there any green wasy to neutralize smells from filtration plants?

Jul. 27 2010 11:47 AM
Robert from astoria

Let's hear more anecdotes! This is so scientific! And truthful!

Jul. 27 2010 11:45 AM
dboy from nyc

Freddy Ferrer?


Jul. 27 2010 11:45 AM
Vito from bx ny

You know what this show needs? A journalist to challenge callers and confirm facts, etc.

Jul. 27 2010 11:44 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

One of the main reasons Freddy Ferrer didn’t become mayor, regardless of what he’s saying as I type this, is because he ran on being Hispanic; that was his only issue much like how Thompson ran only on term limits and nothing else. Ferrer lost my vote because he ran on representing an underrepresented population, but hardly mentioned what he’d do for the millions of other New Yorkers. His campaign was as comical as it was abysmal; I remember it well and voted for Bloomberg.

Jul. 27 2010 11:43 AM
Puniks from Soundview

This caller is scary. And I don't believe he lives in Soundview.

Jul. 27 2010 11:43 AM
John from Bx

This guy doesn't seem Hispanic.

Jul. 27 2010 11:38 AM
frankie from nyc

are there any parts of the bronx that are still an armpit? remember the south bronx and the yankees and gangs and rappers and graffitti? how about that? still got that?

Jul. 27 2010 11:37 AM
Bob from ny

Hi thank you for taking my call.

Jul. 27 2010 11:34 AM
ff from ny

How did the phrase "thank you for taking my call" make it onto talk radio? Isn't that what you say when calling an executive at a company, not what you say to a show host? How bizarre

Jul. 27 2010 11:33 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

If you want to live like the Irish do, why are you in America; it is its own country, you know?
The mix of cultures is one of the things that makes this country great, but sounds like you’re saying you’re sad you are in fact an American. That’s easy to change.

Jul. 27 2010 11:31 AM
sd from sd

Do politicians still have to do a lot of networking with shop owners to gain political power in the neighborhoods of the Bronx? Is the mob still there or just their "tourist" restaurants?

Jul. 27 2010 11:30 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Wait, wait, wait… So being Hispanic means being poor, urban and functionally illiterate/mute when it comes to communicating with the population at large? Sounds like what the guest just said.
That’s fine and well if we want from immigrants are self-segregating people, flying their own flags, coming to American whom will NEVER “blend in” (or as I see it, become American and participate in the rich diversity of their adoptive country) because they want to live exactly how they did elsewhere, just with cleaner water?

Jul. 27 2010 11:28 AM
Leah from Brooklyn

The "otherness" of Latinos/Hispanics is certainly being redefined, but I'm not sure that I want to advocate "blending in." My husband is a first generation Greek-American; his family speaks Greek at home and are largely Greek in their traditions, although they have embraced many aspects of American culture. When we were planning our wedding I realized, with some sadness, how much my Irish-American (I'm fourth generation) family had lost in the process of quickly shedding our immigrant status and assimilating.

Jul. 27 2010 11:25 AM

does this guy know eminem is white?

Jul. 27 2010 11:23 AM
Sam from NYC

I would wonder how many of those 40% of Mexicans in the Bronx that are citizens are the American-born children of non-citizens?

Jul. 27 2010 11:23 AM
Greg from the north west bronx

One thing that has changed a lot is the immigrant enclaves. My neighborhood (Norwood) has seen a big influx of Bangladeshis and Mexicans which is evident both on the sidewalks and parks and also in the small businesses. Most of the Irish are long gone, as are most of their pubs on Bainbridge Ave and E 204th Street (a few of which were still around 10 years ago).

The real estate boom and bust is also evident with "Fedders" 3 and 4 family attached houses replacing many old large single family houses and transforming the character of neighborhoods like Kingsbridge Heights just west of Saint James Park. The Bronx also has its share of stalled development sites, both pre and post demolition, though these are more likely to be 3 or 4 family houses instead of big condo developments.

Jul. 27 2010 09:55 AM
Nigia Stephens from Boston Road, Bronx NYC

Love your show! I listen a great deal.

I was born at Fordham Hospital in '68 raised in The Bronx (Franklin Avenue, near 149th street & 3rd was super violent then) in the 1970s and fled to a high school (HS of Art and Design) in Manhattan. I lived mostly in The East Village and Brooklyn returning to The Bronx six years ago, wanting to own something of NYC. We bought a co-op in my old area, it was very, very cheap.
This is the last of old school NYC (both good and bad parts) blended in with what's to come.
The Yankees are a always a mixed blessing. They can do far, far more for this area. We love them yet they give minuscule amounts of help financially& spiritually. There's LOTS of new construction everywhere with a great New Library and museum. Poverty is bad but nothing like the 70's. There are tons of conservative but sweet African families & some young white artist and students moving here now. It's way cleaner & far less violent. It's improved yet, my fiance & I hope to leave, renting out our place. It will take around ten years to see great change here.

Jul. 27 2010 08:48 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.