Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was displaying an all-too-common bigotry in her recent Bronx town-hall meeting when she bemoaned “historically Puerto Rican” Williamsburg’s transformation into “Disneyland for hippies.”
This echoes the congresswoman’s complaint last month about tourists swarming to “Joker stairs” in the southwest Bronx: “Keep your Instagram posts outside of the Boogie Down. Like, this is for us.”
“This is for us”: Imagine if the white residents of Yorktown Heights had taken that attitude toward AOC’s parents when they came.
Neighborhoods change — or they die.
Puerto Ricans have indeed been present in Williamsburg since the 1920s — living amongst immigrants from many other parts of the world. As the boricua presence grew over the decades, the levels of Irish, Italians, black, Hasidic and other populations ebbed and flowed — not unlike what’s happening there today.
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The Bronx was on its deathbed when AOC’s father decided the family would be better off moving to suburban Westchester, where she grew up. But now a borough that was long the poster child for urban decay and failed policies is booming. Job growth, business development and incomes are up tremendously. And it’s not such a different story in Williamsburg.
Hipsters, immigrants and the so-called “gentrifiers” bring an infusion of new energy and ideas to communities grown stagnant and run-down. People looking to make a new home in an area with relatively low rents don’t need AOC sneering at them.
Heck, it was young millennial gentrifiers in western Queens who handed Ocasio-Cortez her landmark victory in last year’s Democratic primary — seizing political power from the demographic old guard.
Don’t dis the hipsters who made you.