Banksy upsets Bronx residents with 'Ghetto 4 Life' graffiti

Residents say phrase reinforces negative stereotypes about the borough

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The Independent Culture

Banksy has upset Bronx residents by spray painting the phrase "Ghetto 4 Life" on a wall in the borough.

Click here or on 'view gallery' to see more from Banksy's New York residency

Residents have voiced their concern about Banksy's latest graffiti artwork, which they say reinforces "outdated negative stereotypes" about the borough.

Ruben Diaz Jr, president of the Bronx borough, said: "Many Bronxites are upset at Banksy's choice of words, and they are right to be upset."

He said in a statement: "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.

"We have been pushing back against an unjust, and often untrue, narrative since the 1970s, 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.

"Banksy 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 Perhaps it would be a better use of his talents to help us tell the story of the 'New Bronx', rather than recycle outdated negative stereotypes."

Jeffrey Guard, founder and creative director of The Bronx Art Exchange, said the word "ghetto" has a racially charged meaning when used in an American context.

He said: "What Banksy, who is presumed to be both white and English, may not have realised is that in American culture a white person using the word 'ghetto' can be perceived as racially charged, in that it suggests a not-so-subtle pejorative towards people of colour meant to implicitly infer low-class, uneducated and criminal in nature."

Banksy's latest work in the Bronx, which shows a boy spray painting "Ghetto 4 Life" while a butler waits on him with drinks, is part of his moth-long residency in New York.