Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, Bronx, New York, I would like to express our profound gratitude to New Yorkers, particularly Bronxites for the overwhelming show of support and solidarity during one of the worst Bronx tragedies in decades. The Twin Park West fire calamity on Jan. 9, 2022 was the most horrific loss of lives in our city since the Happy Land Social Club fire on March 25, 1990.

New Yorkers from all walks of life and backgrounds came together as a family to provide every necessity the victims needed immediately, as well as pledged in providing services the survivors would need in the long term. The responses were so overwhelming that they have transformed the most painful experience into one of the most beautifully triumphant humanitarian neighborliness. The Africans, muslims and Bronxites in general are extremely grateful of this neighborly gesture and have committed to nurturing it further.

With that being said, we must also be realistic about the conditions that resulted in the Bronx being the victims of these deadly fire tragedies. Every deadly fire tragedy in the city in the last half a century has occurred in the Bronx. Asides from being home to these deadly preventable fires, Bronx is universally known to be the ‘first in all things bad, and last in all things good’ county. As a result, every family with financial means has left the county or has a plan to do so as quickly as feasible, which resulted in the current brain and resource drainage. This was the reason why we had previously partnered with Dr. Erica Tobia, executive superintendent of Bronx schools, to launch the Lifestyle Lifespan campaign two years ago.

We know these deadly fires do not happen in a vacuum, they are part of the overall neglect of the safety and quality of life of Bronxites, who are overwhelmingly tenants of out-of-borough absentee investors. Bronx is a renters’ county with less than one-third of its residents being owner occupants.

Against the backdrop of this injustice and neglect, we have launched the #BRONX2022 as a unifying platform for Bronx transformation activism demanding a real and permanent change. All Bronxites, Bronx stakeholders and friends of the Bronx are encouraged to use this hashtag to help amply our cries for change. The Bronx status quo isn’t inevitable and is therefore changeable. Below are two baby steps that would lead to the desired change in the long run. Please participate in them to add your input:

1. Thank you all so very much for your commitment to join the #BRONX2022 campaign. We’ve been inundated with requests to take part in this Bronx Transformative Campaign (BTC) literally from the moment it was announced during the funeral services of the Twin Park fire tragedy. Elected officials, clergy, community leaders, educators and even landlords have been reaching out wanting to be a part of it. As promised when it was announced, we will never, ever accept the current conditions and move on from the fire tragedy weeks later to business as usual. The days of the Bronx’s status quo for being ‘first in all things bad and last in all things good’ will soon be behind us.

Our county is a “renters’ county” whose landlords are mostly from out of the county privileged families, who are living luxury lifestyles in some of the safest and most prestigious venues in the nation. While we have no problem with them enjoying their ‘American Dreams,’ we will no longer tolerate their deadly negligence of ours. If you invest in properties and businesses in the Bronx, you will all have to invest in the quality of life in the Bronx. #BRONX2022 campaign will create a coalition of elected officials, investors, entrepreneurs, services providers, stakeholders, community organizers and Bronxites to effectuate this needed Bronx transformation. We would love for the Bronx to remain an investor and entrepreneur friendly county but not to the detrimental conditions currently imposed on us. We seek socially conscious partners, not profits-driven killers.

The first campaign proposal to be debated on by #BRONX2022 campaign members is whether to make “Absentee Investors Quality of Life Tax” for any county, community or neighborhood where more than 1/3 of its residents are renters.

There are other quality of life issues to be debated and if you have one, please share it with us. We just want a real and permanent change in the Bronx.

Working with Dr. Erica Tobia, executive superintendent, under the leadership of Alhassan Susso, we are planning to hold our first Bronxwide stakeholders strategy forum on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, 6-8 p.m. in one of our public school auditoriums to be announced later. In the meantime, Bronxites can register their interests to join #BRONX2022 campaign by emailing us at: renterscounty@gmail.com

2. Peace and Love, #BRONX2022 Campaign

In the spirit of our recently launched Bronx transformation campaign of #BRONX2022, we ask all Bronxites to adopt, mentor, partner or become mentees to just one person during 2022. Charity begins at home and we’re all we need. Select a person and say: My #BRONX2022 ________ is and give a brief justification why that person was your selection.

For example, My #BRONX2022 mentor is Mr. Stephen Ritz of #GreenBronxMachine. I will spend 2022 learning about his techniques on urban farming and food innovation in our schools and communities.
Please join this Bronx campaign with simple steps that would lead to needed Bronx transformation. We are the Bronx solutions and its needed resources. #ilovethebronx #not62 #operationfish #lifestylelifespan #bronxstrong

Sheikh Musa Drammeh can be contacted at lifestylelifespan247@gmail.com.

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