Bronx Borough President Has Beef With Banksy

Banksy's latest work in the south Bronx. (Photo: http://www.banksyny.com)

Banksy’s latest painting in the South Bronx. (Photo: http://www.banksyny.com)

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is not a fan of famed graffiti artist Banksy’s latest work.

Mr. Diaz Jr. fired off a statement today chastising the British artist for one of his latest piece, which depicts a child scrawling “Ghetto 4 Life” on a wall in the South Bronx as a butler ironically stands by.

“BP DIAZ TO BANKSY: ‘GHETTO FOR LIFE?’ ENOUGH ALREADY!,” railed Mr. Diaz Jr.’s press release, arguing the British artist’s effort had thrown “a wrench in our efforts to rebrand our borough.”

“Many Bronxites are upset at Banksy’s choice of words, and they are right to be upset. We are not ‘Ghetto 4 Life,’ we are a vibrant borough of diverse communities,” he said.

Mr. Diaz Jr. went on to encourage the hundreds of people expected to travel to the Bronx to see the piece to instead visit a Bronx tourism website “to learn about all the great things that are happening in the Bronx,” and accused the artist of perpetuating old stereotypes: “Perhaps it would be a better use of his talents to help us tell the story of the ‘New Bronx,’ rather than recycle outdated negative stereotypes.”

Last week, Mr. Diaz Jr. had praised the artist’s first installation in the Bronx–a traveling Ronald McDonald statue–as a sign of progress in the borough, which has long been plagued by poverty and high crime.

“A major reason we showcase the ‘New Bronx’ at every turn is to break the destructive stereotypes and images that the Bronx has been forced to deal with for decades. We have been pushing back against an unjust, and often untrue, narrative since the 1970’s, and some people do not seem to want to give us any credit for our growth and improvement, no matter how obvious it may be” he said.

Banksy could not immediately be reached for comment on the criticism.

Read the full release below:

BP DIAZ TO BANKSY: ‘GHETTO FOR LIFE?’ ENOUGH ALREADY!

Today, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. released the following statement regarding street artist Banksy’s latest Bronx piece, which includes the phrase “Ghetto 4 Life” painted on a wall:

“Last week, world-renowned street artist Banksy brought his five borough exhibition to the Bronx for the first time, in the form of a traveling Ronald McDonald statue. At the time, I told those who asked that I was happy that our borough was a part of the exhibition, that we were not left out of a major worldwide news event. I was happy that people from all over the city, and travelers from across the world, were coming to the Bronx in search of this art.

“New visitors offer the Bronx a chance to show off the great progress we have made. In fact, when we found Banksy’s statue last week, I was able to discuss the history of Charlotte Street with several individuals who had never been to that area before. I was able to tell them how that neighborhood, which had once been a symbol of urban blight, had now become a model of homeownership and community spirit. I was able to showcase the continued growth of the Bronx, the ‘New Bronx.’

“A major reason we showcase the ‘New Bronx’ at every turn is to break the destructive stereotypes and images that the Bronx has been forced to deal with for decades. We have been pushing back against an unjust, and often untrue, narrative since the 1970’s, and some people do not seem to want to give us any credit for our growth and improvement, no matter how obvious it may be.

“Our borough has taken huge leaps forward. Crime is down. New businesses are coming to the Bronx. Everywhere I go I hear from Bronxites that they are proud to live here, and are proud of the renaissance our borough has seen and continues to see.

“And then, Banksy spray paints ‘Ghetto 4 Life’ on a Bronx wall, drawing those aforementioned visitors to the Bronx to gawk and throwing a wrench in our efforts to rebrand our borough. Many Bronxites are upset at Banksy’s choice of words, and they are right to be upset. We are not ‘Ghetto 4 Life,’ we are a vibrant borough of diverse communities. We are a place where people are living the American Dream. To 1.4 million people we are home, and Banksy would do well to remember that before he traffics in ancient stereotypes about our borough.

“Unfortunately, hundreds of people will travel to the Bronx today to look at a wall that says ‘ghetto’ on it. I would ask that they visit ilovethebronx.com to learn about all the great things that are happening in the Bronx, and I invite them to take in one of our many cultural attractions or world-class restaurants while they are here.

“As for Banksy, he should be aware that graffiti art and graffiti culture originated in the Bronx. Perhaps it would be a better use of his talents to help us tell the story of the ‘New Bronx,’ rather than recycle outdated negative stereotypes.”