I live on the South Side of Chicago in a neighborhood called the Back of the Yards. I have lived here for 10 years, and I have seen what most kids my age have never even thought about.
Everyone talks about how bad the South Side is, but they never realize that we love our home. Come to the South Side and experience living here yourself. Not all our days are dark and cold; we have bright and warm days, too.
Lizbeth lives in the Back of the Yards. She says, “Well, I’m pretty comfortable here. Like, I go outside with people I’ve known for a while and I know they’re not gonna hurt me. They’re going to protect me. Once you know someone for a while, you feel like it’s family.”
Although Lizbeth knows some people might be scared of Back of the Yards, she says, “Well, I see gang signs and graffiti all over, but it doesn’t really scare me because as long as you don’t mess with them, they don’t mess with you.”
The South Side of Chicago is not as bad as it seems. Yes, someone might break into your house; you might get robbed, and people do get killed. That doesn’t happen every day.
Besides, the South Side is not the only place where these things happen. People get shot in every corner of the Earth. It’s just our background that makes the South Side of Chicago look really bad when something happens over here.
Cordell lives in Englewood, another neighborhood on the South Side. Cordell says, “I’m very comfortable in my hood.”
Cordell admits its a bad neighborhood but still likes it because he feels like he’s at home here.
“I see a lot of shooting going on, but I still don’t want to leave. I go outside with my friends and play ball and make it home safe, even though people claim you’re going to get killed if you simply go outside.”
I asked Cordell why does he call Englewood his home, and he responded, “Because my parents grew up here, and I grew up here. It’s home. Nowhere else to go and feel complete.”
People who have never even been to the South Side because they’re too scared judge us. They take pride in their wealth and forget about other people’s value.
If something bad happens here, other people really have to make sure to say, “It happened on the South Side.”
Our streets and neighborhoods look the way they do for a reason. We have been left behind. Just because we’re on the South Side doesn’t mean we’re the worst people or place on earth. We have our good sides. We smile about life, too.