Thursday, April 9, 2009

Negrita Closes

Spec and Bwog have been covering this for some time now, and I've only started going this semester. Lets try for a different take

Two years ago, Joanna Eng at Racialicious wrote

"There is something extremely disheartening about walking into a bar called “La Negrita” to find it full of white people, and white people only. I already cringe when someone brings me to a bar in New York City where I’m the most “ethnic” face in the room; it hits me over the head in a city as diverse as this. But La Negrita is especially bugging me, not only because of its name and lack of explanation for the name; but because we’re on 109th Street and Columbus—Manhattan Valley—a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood where most of the longtime residents are black and Latino (and most of the newcomers are white)."

But its not that simple. La Negrita, like the other bars in the neighborhood (and even the Malcolm X and Donaldson Lounge on campus), are what Ray Oldenburg would call a "third place". According to Oldenburg, third places “host the regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work.”

Places like Negrita are crucial spaces for a democratic society and civic engagement and--yes, gentrification. I'll be there at some point this weekend, regretful that I never went until now.

(Photo: La Negrita, the patron saint of Costa Rica in Cartago, Costa Rica)

P.S. This is my first post at el participante! Thanks to Rudi for bringing me into the dialogue. Keep that feedback coming.

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