The Notorious Chicago Housing Projects: A Hidden Treasure
Wow! As I reflect, I have had so many experiences that have shaped me into the woman that I am today. In my teen years from 10 years old to 14 years old was some of the hardest times but it gave me insight on the world and the people of this world from every race and nationality. A lot of my experiences were from the “Chicago Housing Projects”; they were labeled as some of the most dangerous, decrepit and depressing environments to live in. These were my stomping grounds even though I didn’t live in many of them but had relatives or friends of the family that resided in them everyday for years. I received formative training about people and GOD in this space. As my Mom wanted to teach us not to look down on people that are in situations that are sometimes brought on by themselves or by the systems that we are born into.
One of the memories that I remember fondly is walking through the buildings of the Robert Taylor Homes with my siblings as my Mom spoke life into people, brought smiles to the kids faces, loved people and gave hope to the street pharmacist; they embraced her and her kids with open arms. We would run through the halls with the rancid smell of the garbage chute and the stench of urine stinging our nostrils as we stepped over garbage bags that littered the ground (as kids this does not affect you because of our innocence before it is tainted by adults with their own agenda). While we were there no one ever touched or bothered us, we always felt as though we belonged. Also, they knew who we belonged to “that woman that you don’t mess with because it’s something supernatural about her” (My mom).
As a child I also graced the steps in the buildings of Henry Hornets, Cabrini Green, Ida B. Wells Homes, Darrow Homes, Ickes Homes and Stateway Gardens. When I was 14 years old we moved from the West Side of Chicago to the South Side of Chicago into Wentworth Gardens (Murder Town); this is where I realized that people now looked at my family and I as beneath them because of where we lived. Let me give you insight on the people that lived in all of these projects, there was an intricate web of support networks that were built to look after kids, neighbors and visitors. There was love, pride, self-hate and violence intertwined into the fabric of the bricks that were laid by my ancestors.
I learned don’t judge a book by it’s cover or in this case where they live; because I’ve been in decked to the nine houses owned by the richest and those books are crooked and even lost in the pages of their own life. When I would tell people that I lived in Wentworth Gardens they would give me a look of disbelief, after just have spoken about the same people I had gained wisdom from, strength from, fortitude from, love from, and a fighting spirit from. Therefore, this led to me giving people lessons in humanity, love and GOD (won’t he do it!). My responses were laced with the teachings of my Mom, to hold our head up high, stick our chest out, look them right in the face, crisscrossed with what she instilled in us on how to maneuver through the colors of this world.
In this life we are blessed to have many experiences; sometimes we try and shield ourselves or others shield us from them but GOD has built you to speak to a group of people that needs to hear your story to break out of their shell and awaken their minds to change a nation. The Chicago Housing Projects are distant memories to some but that's where a lot of my history and victories were manifested!!!
With all this being said “Dig Deeper than you ever have before”