STEREOTYPES THAT FOLLOW YOU
“You‘re from the Bronx?” Imagine that facial expression with wide eyes, and a mouth open left speechless. It’s something I see time and time again when I tell someone who isn‘t from the Bronx that I am. I feel as though I should say that the Bronx or any other borough, let alone the city, should not define us, but that would be pointless. In fact, I have grown up to understand those faces of ” Wow! It must be tough” have become faces of energy and fuel. It’s a face that I use to motivate myself to prove not just to outsiders but to the whole world that growing up in New York and that being raised in the Bronx is not a hardship but an uprising.
If you live among the five boroughs of New York, you are aware of certain stereotypes that follow you, stereotypes that have been created over the decades. Let’s just say that no one usually has anything nice to say about the Bronx. It’s defined by drugs, gangs, and mainly individuals who have no motivation for a good future, depicted as streets covered with people who live off the government and use the money for the latest trends and food. Housing, food stamps, and shelters seem to be the constant answer to many people of this borough. Outsiders believe these stereotypes are how far we’ll ever get with our lives. It hurts to know that women such as myself are defined by these labels. Outsiders see the lack of dreams and ambitions among these people, assuming that we as Bronx people don‘t believe in ourselves, but they are wrong.
I cannot deny the fact that the stereotypes have played their role in my life. In fact, I remember feeling overwhelmed in my senior year of high school because I thought I could never get into my dream college at Pratt University. I didn’t get in, but because I never even applied. At that point in my life, I felt as if the Bronx was my curse. I doubted myself and my capabilities, assuming that anyone who wasn’t living in the Bronx had a higher chance of gaining something I dreamt of. The constant faces of “ You‘re from the Bronx?” were my reminders that I’ll always be viewed as one of the stereotyped people in the Bronx who have no hope or ambition no matter how hard I tried to ignore it.
As I continue to grow and live in the Bronx, I‘ve changed my perspective. The stereotypes that follow me allow me to continue to build a new and better version of myself, a strong independent woman, destined to find my path regardless of the Bronx in me. I may not have had the most elite public schools or had the most promising colleges, but it didn‘t stop me then and hasn‘t stopped me now. I continue to strive and rise every morning in my Bronx home, to travel and find what‘s out there for me. I do have goals and I do have ambition. Soon, I will have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design at age 23,.and trust me: you got another thing coming if you think that‘s where I’m stopping! My fuel is bigger than ever and I’m not the only woman out here living in the Bronx with dreams and goals. I think it’s about time we start rising through the stereotypes.