The Bronx, New York has been the site of many historic events that have had an unforgettable impact on the rest of the United States. From the Mexican Revolution to the New Deal, the city has been a hub of human and cultural energies, reaching its highest levels of urban excitement and glamor. In recent years, the Bronx's immigrant population has grown by an impressive 22 percent, and the Bronx Documentary Center (BDC) has been at the forefront of exploring the views and passions of some writers and discussing how New York has inspired and nourished them. At a gathering at the BDC last November, stories from Mexico to Mali were shared, each deeply personal and of universal resilience. It was exciting to come to New York and live in the Bronx with people they had never met before.
The work done by the BDC's after-school documentary photography program reveals the challenges and triumphs of life in today's immigrant community in New York City. The South Bronx witnessed a demographic shift in the postwar period as African Americans and Puerto Ricans were joined by foreign-born Irish, Jewish, and Italian immigrants. The austerity policy carried out by New York City's elites falls on the backs of black and brown working-class communities. The desire for a better life based on personal achievement was a common thread in every story shared at the BDC. The arrival of the Mexican revolution in 1910 accentuated the Latin image of violence on screen, with a series of pseudo-documentaries about the conflict being shown in American cinemas. The New York Times noted that “barbaric Mexico” (191) tended to focus on “the burning of corpses on the battlefield.”This seven-part, 14-and-a-half hour television event explores the rich history of New York City as the primary laboratory of modern life.
It is very clear that New York City has been a major influence on American culture and society, and its immigrant communities have played an important role in this process. The Bronx Documentary Center is doing an incredible job of highlighting these stories through their after-school documentary photography program. Through this program, we can gain insight into how immigrants are adapting to life in New York City and how they are contributing to its culture. We can also learn about how these communities are facing challenges due to austerity policies imposed by city elites. Immigration is an integral part of American history, and it is important to recognize how it has shaped our culture. The Bronx Documentary Center is helping us do just that by providing us with a platform to explore these stories.
We can learn about resilience, hope, and ambition through these stories, which will help us better understand our own lives.