The Bronx

For the past four years, I’ve had the privilege to be a resident in the Bronx. Yes, it’s been an absolute privilege and yes that is probably contrary to anything you’ve ever associated with the Bronx. Responses to telling others that I go to school in the Bronx typically involve the same question, is it safe? Believe this: it is and it is also much more than that.

The Bronx is home to 1.5 million people, hip-hop and salsa, incredible diversity, Fordham University, Lehman College, Monroe College, Albert Einstein College, the Botanical Gardens, Hunts Point, the famous Bronx Zoo, Grand Concourse, Yankee Stadium, the most green-space of all the boroughs (!!), Edgar Allen Poe, the real Little Italy, Woodlawn Cemetery, originally was meant to be farm land, and plenty more (check out more facts here, here, and here).

I’ve been allowed the opportunity to be a temporary resident, student, and neighbor. I even now struggle to find the words to properly convey the deep love I have fostered for this borough (and I am lowkey getting teary just writing this).

What’s even more exciting for me, is reflecting on how far I’ve come since stepping foot at Fordham as a freshman. Especially because the first thing I participated in was the Urban Plunge program. Urban Plunge is an orientation program that is meant to introduce students to the Bronx, social justice, volunteering, and to college. This program has defined my college experience because I met many of my close friends through it and I’ve been an Urban Plunge Assistant since my sophomore year. Because of Urban Plunge I met some of my closest friends, learned about institutionalized racism, confronted internalized racism in my life and learned more about myself and identity, reevaluated my racist judgments and perspectives, learned about how to be a leader and peer, volunteered with many local organizations, grew a deep love for social justice, and most importantly learned to love everything the Bronx has to offer.

Outside of the UP Program, I volunteered with local organized, I listened to amazing activists on campus and off, I engaged with my local community, I went to community building meetings, learned about community organizing, somehow became a student activist, learned how to be a good neighbor, learned how to be an active community member, became aware of how much space I take up as white-passing person from Connecticut, refrained from referring to the Bronx with derogatory judgements, realized how harmful to call those who have lived here longer than I as “locals” instead of neighbor, spent time in the Bronx and not just carting down to Manhattan, learned how to have sincere pride and gratitude for the borough I get to live, explored Little Italy the South Bronx and more, visited countless cultural sites, and ate as much local food as possible.

Ultimately, here’s the fundamental truth I’ve learned to be true since being a student here: The Bronx does it better.

 

At this point, I want to challenge you to reevaluate what you’ve ever thought about the Bronx and come here and visit yourself. In addition, if you go to school in a certain area and your not a respectful neighbor community member–think about the space you and your classmates take up and what you can do to be a better neighbor. Or, when new “luxury student apartments” are built in the surrounding neighborhoods I want to also challenge you to reconsider those feelings and recognize the genuinely harmful effects of gentrification.

 

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