The South Bronx is as unique as a finger print or a strand of DNA, and its distinct idiosyncrasies can be imitated but never duplicated. That is because in order for the “Boogie Down” cultural milieu to have evolved, certain historical markers had to have been present: an intermingling of diverse races, religions, cultural traditions, customs and varied languages, all set against the broad landscape of multiple emerging indigenous creative artforms and modes of expression such as hip hop, break-dancing, graffiti, and salsa. These are but some of the elements that make up our special resilient and tenacious DNA. But, without a knowledge of our place in the larger historical timeline, we cannot be certain of our future, and we are open and susceptible to the record of our accomplishments and contributions being white-washed, co-opted, or negated entirely. So it is crucial that we come together to collect and archives this precious history and work toward correcting the record of revisionist historical accounts, politically slanted falsehoods, and outright biases.
The Bronx DNA Project (#bronxdna) begins to re-capture in one place, and in a collaborative manner, the various helix of cultural and historical narratives that have impacted our lives and crafted our very existence, and present it back to the larger universe. As you might imagine, this is a huge undertaking, and one we take very seriously. Toward that end, we are utilizing the support of historians, academics, journalists, among other chroniclers, and enhancing that base of information with the input of the real experts who know this history best — the residents whose stories we aim to tell, and will capture via a “stakeholder-led submission process.”
We hope you will join us in this effort to reclaim the proud historical axis of our people and communities and create a comprehensive database of our struggles and joys, our achievements and contributions, and compile it for the benefit and better understanding of our humble community. To be sure, this will not be an overnight venture, but rather a long-term incremental aggregation of information, that will slowly begin to show what we’ve seen and what we’ve done, as we collectively begin to tell the larger story of who we are.
These are OUR Stories. This is OUR history. This is OUR DNA.
Edwin Pagán, Program Manager, Bronx Culture Collective (BxCC)