May 23, 2006

Bushwick, Bushwick, always funky fresh!

I've seen quite a few blog posts hating on Bushwick, Brooklyn. My heart goes out to the community of Bushwick. I was born and raised there. Spent my first 20 years of life in that community and saw it become what it is now. During those years I witnessed:

- Slumlords focused on collecting rent and investing very little into basic upkeep of the buildings they owned.
- Families working hard at low-paying jobs to house and feed their familes.
- The Crack Epidemic of the 80s hitting Bushwick hard, including members of my own family.
- Community organizers working hard to improve conditions. In fact the Maria Hernandez Park on Knickerboecker Ave is named after an activist that gave her life to the fight against the local drug trade.
- Having creative, ambitious, and interesting people as my neighbors and friends.
- The Reagan Presidency and what "trickled down" economically to Bushwick wasn't much in terms of funding and/or policies to address the problems plaguing the community.

Bushwick has had it rough for a long time. Yet, many people have thrived in it as well. It never really veered far from a decades long history of housing the working class and poor.

I think a lot of these new New Yorkers need to realize that NYC is not only like what the TV show “Friends” depicted. NYC has a lot of working-poor people trying to also make a life for themselves in it. And, often these working-poor neighborhoods don’t have the best housing, high crime rates and a very visible drug sub-cutlture.

Just as a sidenote, don’t think for a minute scrubbed up suburbs doesn’t have addicts. They just have their drugs delivered or prescribed by Dr. Feelgood. Aint that right Mr. Limbaugh?

I think some of the authors of the posts focusing on the negative aspects of Bushwick would benefit from a bit of clarity about their situation. I think you have more in common with your native Bushwick neighbors than you think. You are probably also one to two paychecks away from being homeless, and the only reason you are living in the “ghetto” is because that is what you can afford.

If I’m wrong then I suggest you head to Park Slope. The gentrification process there is just about complete. If that can’t happen for you anytime soon then reach out to some of the elected officials and community organizations. Go and see see what you can do to improve the current situation for you and your neighbors.

With that said welcome to the neighborhood. I hope your real life observation of the impact of poverty, misguided public policy and inequitable distribution of resources has on a community; doesn’t freak you out too much.

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