This Is Not My Brooklyn

This piece resonated. Even as a White person from a middle class background, I’ve been struggling in the past few years with the demolition of homes and businesses in my SE Portland Richmond neighborhood. Every time I return to Portland, I’m afraid to see what more will be rubble. Or worse, completely gone with no tribute to its existence. The grunge and the grime and the working class vibe of Division is being lost to the shiny, “earthy,” and delicious. And my brain is a colander straining to keep memories of my home as the world changes around me but losing. I get so angry at Black and Brown people being pushed out of the city in continuing gentrification, yet endless reports of Portland being so livable. I am weary. Sometimes I want to leave. But I don’t want to do to any other city what is being done to mine.

Vanessa Mártir's Blog

I say, “I’m from Brooklyn” like there’s a grenade exploding from my mouth.

I walk different after saying it. My step is a little harder, my shoulders more square, nose held higher in the air. It’s a momentary self-assuredness that follows me for a spell.

I feel it rise into my jaw when I see her approach across the water as I’m crossing the Williamsburg Bridge; when the train doors close on First Avenue and the L snakes under the East River.

The thing is, the Brooklyn I’m from isn’t the Brooklyn of today. It’s not that funky Brooklyn that I keep in my back pocket in case somebody tries it. (You don’t wanna mess with a girl from 1980s Bushwick.)

My Brooklyn is the Brooklyn of the Domino sugar factory and rubble and crack. Nostalgia can be a confusing thing. It isn’t always for the neat and pristine. It’s…

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