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By Ja’Lisa Hemmingway

Chicago’s south side is underrated. Before I jump into my argument, let me assure you
that I am fully aware of what goes on. I see stories in the media just as you do. However, the discipline and creativity that is instilled in the native of a south sider are qualities that cannot be taught elsewhere in the city.

By the age of 10, I had lived in two different states for long periods of time. Compared to
Illinois, these states provided affordable housing and a comfortable lifestyle. Not to mention, the crime rates were relatively low. I remember having everything that I wanted and everything that I needed without worry. Then again, how expensive could a 10 year old be? Well, after the death of my father in 2007, my family and I moved back to the windy city almost instantly. Though this was a city I had been born and semi-raised in, it seemed very unfamiliar. Although I consciously recognized the streets and the houses, it seemed like a new life for me. With funeral costs and almost becoming a burden to my aunt, it was clear that my mother was no longer the financially stable woman she once was, despite her education level. Chicago was different. Chicago was expensive.

In addition to, summers were the worst. There was never anything to do EXCEPT get
into trouble. Honestly, not much has changed since I first formed that opinion, either. However, as a south sider, the kids on the block (including myself) would make the most of the bread crumbs we had. We did not have a recreational center nearby so we would cut crates up to make basketball rims. In the job market, we were competing with young adults and older people for minimum wage positions so we took interest in creative outlets. I’ll never forget the first time I brought a USB microphone and downloaded FL Studio. I believed that if I worked hard and stayed consistent, I would become a millionaire and eliminate my family’s stress. And to this day, it is still a goal of mine.

You see, Chicago’s south side breeds creativity. The people develop discipline and  The people develop discipline and creativity from a young age due to circumstances outside of their control. If anything is possible from a negative standpoint (such as losing your father), then anything is possible from a positive perspective, as well. Despite how toxic the environment can get, the south side does more good than harm to its people. As a native, I can say with confidence that is because I went through the
struggle that I am motivated to want to improve every aspect of my life that is possible. Because I went through the struggle, I can attest that one can be successful is he/she is able to use that pain or deprivation as fuel in their journey. The south side taught me to keep my skin thick and my mind open. It deserves more credibility.

 


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