For almost half a century, the Black and Puerto Rican population of the South Bronx has been consistently blamed for the decline of our borough and the burning of the South Bronx.

We have been accused of being the ones who destroyed our homes causing over 400,000 Bronxites (mostly White) to flee our borough.

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Where Did It Go? (Perla de Leon)

But now one of our own is setting the record straight through a new documentary called Decade of Fire which explores what really happened during those years.

Bronx born and raised Vivian Vázquez Irizarry has created this must see documentary where she digs deep into the systemic issues that led to the fires that ravaged our borough displacing thousands and destroying countless lives.

Something Must Be Useful (Perla de Leon)

This isn’t something that happened overnight and didn’t have one, single root cause but rather a build up of purposeful neglect by the government.

I’ve watched the film twice and twice I found myself in tears as I relived those years of my youth in the South Bronx amidst the ruins of the fires.

Back then, it seemed natural to us (at least the innocent kids who didn’t know better) to live on a half deserted street.

It seemed natural to walk for blocks and see nothing but vacant buildings and roving packs of dogs.

However, it was anything but.

It was purposeful as the neglect grew by a government who would shut down fire houses in high risk areas along with other services.

My Playground (Perla de Leon)

It was purposeful thanks to the practice of redlining where banks drew literal red lines around neighborhoods on maps indicating that there was “negro or Puerto Rican infiltration” therefore no loans were allowed.

It didn’t matter if you were white, once I red line was drawn on your block, you couldn’t take out a mortgage and how else would you be able to maintain your properties?

Vázquez Irrizary takes us on this emotional journey with as she researches and interviews her subjects for the film.

During the intro she says, “We didn’t burn The Bronx; We were the ones who saved it.”

The part that hit me the hardest for it was the one I knew in my heart for years.

Watch the trailers below and mark your calendars for May 2nd asit premiers at the Metrograph in Manhattan. There have already been a series of screenings in The Bronx of this important documentary and we’ll notify you of the next event in our borough.

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