“I’ve been in the West End since 2006 and I haven’t had any problems. I’ve been down here a while and I like it. I’m a suburb kid from out Westport Road. I was a little naive, growing up out there. I didn’t know much about the buses and stuff back then. I didn’t learn about that stuff until I was in high school. Then I started coming out and running with my friends. I like it. It’s been good for me. There’s a lot of shit that goes on but if you think about it, it goes on everywhere. When you put it in context, they make it sound bad when it comes from down here. I’m right across the street from the park and I’m in a good spot.
There’s also not enough for kids to do out here. If you don’t catch these kids early, they’re int he streets and once they’re in the streets, they’re gone. It’s hard to turn them back around once they’re out there. I think the idea is to teach them before they get out there. The West End School for Boys is good because they need it more than anybody. They need one for girls, too.
They also need to put some things back in the schools. Like, what happened to home ec? Why can’t these kids make a meal? You can’t feed your kids noodles or microwave meals for life. These kids can’t cook or clean. That’s all the things that I learned in school, that some can learn at home but they aren’t.
I have breast cancer. In 2013, I found a knot and I’ve been going back and forth ever since. I’m just trying to be here as long as I can for my kids and grandkids. I just had surgery on the 7th of August and I’m supposed to be having my final surgery on the 19th of this month. I’ve been through it these last five or six years. I’m here and I’m fighting to be here. I have five grandbabies and I want to be here for them. I figured that the name of the game is survival and that’s with anywhere you go.
I lost my son, my only son, in 2015, to rectal cancer. He was only twenty-one years old. I don’t think I broke until after my son left. You know, there just wasn’t anything that I could do to help him. I couldn’t let him see me break. I couldn’t let my daughters see me break.
When he passed, it affected the community. My son was a good friend. He took care of the people he loved. So many of his friends, their parents, teachers, and other people just showed up for him. When you got it like that, it’s a community.
We don’t have a community like we used to. Back then, you could keep an eye on the kids in your neighborhood. You could call out down the street, “Ay, is Johnny there? Tell him I said to come home!” You can’t do that anymore. People aren’t on each other's side. You can’t protect somebody’s kids from running to the streets because they’ll cuss your ass out. It goes back to the momma and grandmomma not being there. Back in the day, if momma wasn’t there, granny was - no problem. Look at me, I’m a grandmother and I’m not that old. The dynamics have changed. If you ain’t out there, trying to learn how to do it, you just won’t know it. You’re just picking up as you go along and that ain’t cool because you’re having kids before you know how to do it.
My advice to the world is to be open to everybody’s ideas. You can’t always cut people off. Sometimes, we cut people off for the wrong reasons. You know, you may not like the way they look or sound. Sit down and listen to somebody sometimes. You’ll learn things that you didn’t even know. If we can pick up the kids, things will be better for the people.” - Vicki, Chickasaw