A Neighborhood Improvement Journal - Summer 2021


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Growing up on 51st and State

by Tanya Jackson



“This is how people who never lived there think: ‘they bad, they stupid, uh-hu, I ain’t going over there,’ but this is how people in the projects thinking. ‘Dude, I aint’goin over on Wabash. They bad’. They thinking the same thing y’all thinking!

I’ve lived in Louisiana…Baton Rouge. I’ve lived in Milwaukee, I’ve lived in Tenessee. I’ve lived in Minnesota. I even lived on a navy base on Great Lakes, but I’ve never felt as comfortable as I did in the projects, you know why? Because people there feel like they’re outsiders so everybody in the projects, they come together. And they help each other, you know what I’m saying? It’ like we feel like we the minorities and everybody is out to get us. That’s our mentality, growing up on 51st.

People in the projects is no different than people outside the projects; it’s just that we think different because we feel like, there ain’t nobody gonna help us, we here to help each other. And that’s what they do in the projects, they help each other! Whereas when I moved to Milwaukee, my first apartment outside the projects, girl, I couldn’t get a cup of sugar. But if I was in the projects, ‘go on get your sugar’.She’d be like ‘here you go, here’s the whole bag!’.

I love the projects though, it was so – so much love. You have to be born and raised there to feel it, because if you come from the outside into the projects you gonna be thinking, well I gotta say to myself, save up my money and move out.

But people in the projects, it’s different…it’s just that…we have gang-bangers in the projects, we have shootings in the projects, you know what I’m saying? We have all that, but I’m gonna tell you one thing about the people in the projects, no one is about to get raped. If you get raped, before that person who raped you come out of that building, he gonna be dead before he get to the street. They gonna do something about it! He gonna know not to come back there again. Whereas if you on Wabash, they be like, girl you call the police.

People in the project care about people in the projects. And they down for each other. You know when I used to go to the store, my kids be asleep, and I’d be like y’all, I’m fitting to go to the store, go watch my house you know, ‘til I get back. When I come back my kids be well taken care of, and they be still asleep, and they’ll watch my kids. You know you can kick it like that, whereas you can’t to it nowhere else. You know what I’m saying? If you ain’t got it, they don’t look down on you. “

Tanya Jackson

From Bronzeville Stories at http://www.iit.edu/~bronzeville-stories/

These stories are from residents of the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago’s south side


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