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Documentary 'Decade of Fire' Uncovers the Story of Why the South Bronx Burned in the 70s

Source: latinousa.org

Feb 6, 2019 5:28 PM 1+ week ago

Archival image of the South Bronx. (Courtesy of Marlea Willis/Decafe of Fire) Co-directed by Bronx-native Vivian Vazquez, Decade of Fire is a deep dive into the historical context of the fires that plagued the South Bronx in the '70s. Part personal essay, part expos , the film takes us on a journey, and we realize that what we know or thought we knew of the fires isn t the full picture. Many of us thought we did it ourselves, thought that we were responsible, that we didn t deserve good housing. We internalized blame, Vazquez said in an interview with Latino USA. So what 'Decade of Fire' does after so many years is that it turns that narrative on its head and it changes the story. Tracing the origin of the fires, the documentary transports us back to the 1930s. Following the Great Depression, the Home Owners' Loan Corporation began to assess mortgage-lending risk in many American cities. Neighborhoods with a Black or Puerto Rican population that was within the five to ten percent margin weren t considered desirable and were assigned less favorable mortgage rates. Rating the desirability of a neighborhood, per white families standards, became known as redlining. During the early urban renewal period, or slum clearance, many people of color were displaced out of Manhattan to the outer boroughs, especially to the South Bronx. Borrowing a page from the playbook of insurance companies by denying mortgages, banks didn t deem people of color eligible for loans and all based on race. We didn t burn the Bronx, the Bronx was burned it was devastated by racist and unjust policies, Vazquez said. With a concept that began in 2002, the documentary itself took over a decade to complete. For the team behind the documentary, which includes Gretchen Hildebran Read more.

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