Is It Really The Bronx?

People have a lot to say. What's really good though?

Opinions expressed by any of our contributors are their own.

No Carne Bodega, the vegan deli and grocery store concept by No Carne, at the Taste of The Bronx market. (Photo courtesy of our customers.)

No Carne Bodega, the vegan deli and grocery store concept by No Carne, at the Taste of The Bronx market. (Photo courtesy of our customers.)

What's really good though? If you're from The Bronx, you know what I'm talking about. What's really going on? There's a lot of talk about serious issues like gentrification, and the involvement of hard working Bronx Natives who are either vending, performing, or in some way participating in these events. What events? Oh yeah, right, act like you don't know. I'm talking about the It's The Bronx festival, and all the other things they've got going on like the Bronx Night Market, etc.

It's The Bronx Festival (left) and the Bronx Night Market POP-UP at NYBG. (ITB logo @ItsTheBronx, Bronx Night Market POP-UP photo taken by No Carne Lifestyle.)

So I'm certainly not an expert on the subject of gentrification and how it actually works, but I think I have a basic understanding of it. What I won't do is set myself up by trying to explain it in layman's terms. Instead we'll just move on assuming we all know the definition.

What I really want to focus on is how there seems to be this divisive agenda being carried out, whether it be intentional or coincidental. I've always believed that some people are blind to their own self-righteousness, which is obviously something at least some of us can agree on. That's gotta be a big reason why there's this wack vibe in The Bronx right now. With so many people focusing on the negativity, it's hard to tell who's really working towards change and who's actually interested in making a difference.

The It's The Bronx team in their workspace. (Photo Courtesy of @ItsTheBronx on Instagram.)

The It's The Bronx team in their workspace. (Photo Courtesy of @ItsTheBronx on Instagram.)

The truth is, whether you like it or not, there are a lot of Bronx Natives and Uptown Natives who are a playing a major role in these events. Obviously, I can't speak for anyone else, but I know what we stand for. We don't want to contribute towards a problem that's only getting worse for our community, and I'm sure that some, if not all of the Bronxites and locals involved feel the same way.

I'll be lying if I said that I haven't been appreciating the small changes in our borough. It's unfortunate that things tend to get better when the money moves in, but it does have at least a small, positive impact on the community, even if it is just a short-lived "feeling" of a better Bronx, a Bronx they may or may not want us to be a part of. That's something that I understand.

But please don't come at me with the whole "we can do it without them" rant. Because, really? Like, have you tried? I know theoretically you're right, we can actually come together and make a difference, but I've tried, and I don't see that happening right now. And while we're on the subject, ask yourself why it hasn't already happened. Or why we haven't all put our money together to "buy back the block" like Rick Ross said in that song. (*Shrugs)

It's The Bronx Festival Food and Drink Vendor Advertisement, courtesy of @ItsTheBronx.

It's The Bronx Festival Food and Drink Vendor Advertisement, courtesy of @ItsTheBronx.

Why doesn't The Bronx already have a locally organized festival and event series of this scale? Is it because we don't know how to work together? Can it possibly be that we've systematically been conditioned to not trust each other in business and in other collaborative endeavors? Does this sound like a conspiracy theory? Maybe, or maybe not. Whatever.

All I know is I've tried way too often to make things happen with family, friends, and strangers as well. Not everyone is willing to bring the same energy. Too many are focused on a bunch of other nonsense. This is why I try to do what I can with what I have. I try to remain neutral so that I can learn from, and engage with as many individuals as possible. (Which reminds me, just wanna take a moment to highlight the fact that I had a great time this past weekend at First Saturday with Uptown Vinyl Supreme & DJ Prince Paul at the Bronx Beer Hall.)

If you ask me why The Bronx doesn't already have these things, I'd probably say it's because too many people are busy trying to call out of work so they can take a day off, while others are still scheming on the section 8, getting paid off the books and getting them SNAP benefits, during a time when we have Donald Trump as a president, all while there's a whole lot of politics happening behind the scenes, and you've got a whole group of people who claim to be aware of all of this and can seemingly help others understand it as well, but instead prefer to shame them for not already knowing about these issues, or not immediately falling in line with the group thinking, or whatever.

In other word(s): Life. That's why. Life. The way things have been. That's the reason. Things are the way they are because of the way things have been. Things will change only when the things needed to be done to bring about that change finally happen. The present is the future of the past, so make it worth it. That's something I said a long time ago, and it still resonates with me today.

Oh, and before you try to say that I'm generalizing and stereotyping and "making us look bad", just know that I am or at one point was that person just trying to get by, scheming and oblivious to everything going on around us. Which is why it matters to me a lot that we stop this whole finger pointing bullshit and just work together to make things better.

You mad that "they" tryin' to rebrand The Bronx? Well then f'ing do something about it other than just posting and sharing and shaming people involved and creating more "safe spaces" a.k.a. echo chambers where you only interact with people who already agree with you. (*Takes deep breathe) I just want you to know that you have allies outside of your comfort zone. That is all. (*Smiles)

Priscilla Figuereo (left) and Alexander Tapia (right) No Carne Bodega POP-UP at the Uptown Vegan Market.

Priscilla Figuereo (left) and Alexander Tapia (right) No Carne Bodega POP-UP at the Uptown Vegan Market.

No Carne is probably one of the smallest businesses ever. We literally started this with negative ten dollars and couple of iPhones. Ok maybe not literally, but you get the point. We're just a broke couple trying to make things happen, while working towards something we really believe in. What gives you the right to come at us for participating at these events? Especially when we've already tried, and we're currently trying to organize our own events, but some of you cool kids feel like you're too cool to work with us. Ha!

We will forever be humble and grateful for where we are and what we have. We, like many others involved, are working our faces off actually trying to make something happen for ourselves and our families, and again, although I can't speak for everyone else, I know we at No Carne are trying to make a difference while doing so.

Why do we do what we do? For our health, for our home, for the animals. What does that mean? It means we care about improving the overall health of our society, and taking action against climate change for our home, planet earth, while caring for the animals and doing our part in supporting the various animal rights organizations and individuals who continue to fight for animal rights each and every day. We're doing this to make the world a better place.

Keep it 100, that's not something you hear (or read) everyday in the 'hood. We're not "just some food vendors", and we don't "just sell some shirts". We are No Carne, and we are here to do our part. We want to be the change, and lead by example. Which is why, for those of you who still may not be aware, we will be donating 15% of all profits to various public health initiatives, climate action organizations, and animal advocacy groups, both locally and worldwide. And yeah I know that sounds vague, but that's the point. We'll always be looking for different organizations and movements to donate to, because everyone deserves an opportunity to fight for these causes if they choose to. All I know is we're trying to help and we're doing something our family can be proud of.

DISCLAIMER: Alexander Tapia is the cofounder and acting CEO of No Carne Lifestyle LLC, DBA No Carne Bodega. The views expressed in this article are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the rest of the company.

Follow Alexander on Instagram & on Twitter at @djleibro.

Follow No Carne on Instagram at @nocarne & on Twitter at @nocarne_