02/24/17 4:04pm
A native Brooklynite (far left), a native Hawaiian (middle), and a Native American tribe member. Photo by Hannah Frishberg / Brokelyn

A native Brooklynite (far left), a native Hawaiian (middle), and a Native American tribe member. Photo by Hannah Frishberg / Brokelyn

“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something … Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.” – E.B. White, Here Is New York

Last night, Williamsburg’s The City Reliquary took on a heated topic in the back room of their kitschy Metropolitan Avenue space with their event Redefining “Native New Yorker.” It’s a topic that’s been hotly debated well before E.B. White even wrote his stunning ode to New York in 1949.

“For many people, the term ‘native New Yorker’ usually refers to someone born and raised in one of the five boroughs,” the event description read, “While this is one way of understanding what it means to be a native in New York, this group of presentations and performances will offer a broader and more inclusive look.”

The panelists included a Ditmas Park native, a descendant of a Lenape tribe member and a native Hawaiian who has lived in New York for almost 20 years. All but the native Brooklynite shied away from the question of who gets to call themselves a native New Yorker, and instead performed traditional aspects of their own culture. They were all undoubtedly New Yorkers, even if they weren’t born here. While they didn’t settle the question, they highlighted the idea that New York has always been made of immigrants, wanderers and people from somewhere else .

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02/20/17 9:28am
City Reliquary

Photo via City Reliquary

For some, the idea of New York authenticity is one of the last vestiges of the city they can hold on to as high rents displace them elsewhere: it is an identity that newcomers, while able to afford to live here, can never wear. Yet it remains a hotly debated topic, with some arguing that, with time, you can earn your title as Native New Yorker.

Now, Williamsburg’s The City Reliquary has dug itself into the murky, potentially deplorable hole of questioning, and attempting to broaden, the literal definition of what it means to be a Native New Yorker: they’ll be hosting an event entitled Redefining “Native New Yorker” at their 370 Metropolitan Ave. storefront location this Thursday, from 7:30 to 10pm.

“For many people, the term ‘native New Yorker’ usually refers to someone born and raised in one of the five boroughs,” reads the event description, “While this is one way of understanding what it means to be a native in New York, this group of presentations and performances will offer a broader and more inclusive look.” (more…)