Living in the inner-city will take the joy out of your life if you let it. Who wouldn’t be depressed about being surrounded by ignorant male youth lounging aimlessly on the corners bragging about the women they used to have, foul-mouthed, uncouth young women fighting over unemployed men, and older folks so beaten down by life that they spend their remaining days drinking their lives away, and no job opportunities? Everyday I see desolation, grit and grime but I still manage to see beauty in my surroundings. The beauty of seeing a grandmother who takes her great-grandchildren to school at time when she should be chilling out somewhere in Florida but like the good solider she is, knows her duty. The beauty of working mothers taking their daughters to work with them during summer vacations, reminding me of the times I went to work with my mother. The beauty of the innocent faces of children, alight with the wonder and joy of being young and carefree. The sadness I feel knowing in a few years, some of these children’s faces will have hardened into hate and apathy.
Urban decay is abundant in my neighborhood and several other communities throughout America. Vacant lots filled with trash and foreclosed, boarded-up properties are on every corner and you have to travel thirty blocks to find decent food to cook for your family unless you decide to settle for food markets in the area that will sell you rotted vegetables and fruit with no problem because no one cares. Not the politicians who gloss over the plight of the poor people in this country and blame them for their unsavory lifestyles. Not the so-called middle-class, who are so afraid of being lumped with the poor that they have turned their backs on them and have taken on the beliefs of the oppressors instead of aiding them, not understanding that everyone in this country is one paycheck away from being in the welfare or unemployment office unless you are of the one percent that owns everything in America.
This is my reality of living in the inner-city. Although I am surrounded by some of the bleakest parts of human nature, I know that there is beauty in my world and refused to believe otherwise. American society has all but written off the plight of the poor but we are here and we are not going anywhere. We are not nameless, faceless statistics. We have the same dreams and aspirations that everyone has in this country: a chance to be a part of the American Dream where everyone has an opportunity to succeed and make a positive contribution to society. A chance to be somebody. Is that asking too much?