“I live in the Southside but West Louisville, for me, reminds me of my hometown, Radcliff, Kentucky. There’s not too much out here but a grocery store and things like that. It’s the people and the culture. I feel like West Louisville is separated from the rest of the city because of the stigmas and whatnot but I love everything about it. It just reminds me of home. It’s one the few places I feel comfortable at.
Growing up in Radcliff, there’s not a lot of opportunities for kids. I used to play football on a bank property and then would go play basketball on church property. We would always get kicked off those areas. We never had a space where youth could go to, unless you had military privileges and certain benefits. As I got older, I originally looked at things from the lens of basketball. I wanted to give back with the game of basketball. I loved the NBA and wanted to be a pro, but that didn’t work out.
After I started taking classes, I wanted to have a rec center to give back to the kids. I wanted the kids to have the opportunity that I didn’t. So, around my second year of grad school, I realized that I just wanted to work with kids, whether it’d be at the YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, Big Brother Big Sister, or wherever. It turned out that I ended up working in Indiana, at the YMCA, for a couple of years. I learned how to play the game and work with youth and knowing limitations. I then moved back to Kentucky but in Louisville and someone told me about Louisville Urban League. I was like, “There’s an organization for people of color? And I can work with kids?”
Growing up and not having the opportunities, as a kid, I wanted to expose kids to those very opportunities. There’s opportunities out here, but people have to be exposed to them. I also wanted let my people know that they don’t have to do it by themselves and that I’m along for the ride with them. I would much rather put a smile on my face and come to work to help people, whether it’s with chess, character development, college preparation and staying out of trouble than putting on a three piece suit, walking in a bank and making a ton of money and hating my job. For me, it’s all about being happy and doing what I love. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
West Louisville needs each other. The people that live in the community need to start supporting each other. That can be as simple as your kid stepping outside, to play, keep an eye on them. If you see somebody that’s in need, help them out. People in the community just need to support one another. We’re all a unit at the end of the day. If we help support each other, we’ll make it easier for the next generation to come.
Growing up in the projects, if I did something wrong, my mom found out before she would even come home from work. A lot of times, people will just leave it alone, if it’s not their kids. At the end of the day, we’re all just one big family. We all just need to take care of each other in the West.
I don’t think West Louisville makes excuses, but I think that every opportunity for making excuses for West Louisville, needs to stop. Everything that West Louisville needs is right here within our community. Of course, we’re hear them talking about dollars, finances, and organizational support and I get it but we’re all we got, we’re all we need. All you need is your people and everything else will take care of itself. Continue to realize that the solutions are in front of our faces, we just gotta figure it out. With what the world is going through, today, it’s really easy to have a dark and negative attitude. We should look at things in a positive lens, too. Like, yes, we live in a food desert but we also have property that we can live in. There’s a lot of positive things to focus on.
Take advantage of today and worry less about tomorrow. All we have is the now. Let’s say that you’re struggling, today, and you don’t have a dime to your name; that’s just the moment right now. You’re living in the moment, so embrace your struggles because your success will come behind that. Don’t lose sight of what’s in front of your face right now. You can’t get through tomorrow without making it through today. At the same time, realize that today doesn’t define your life. Remember what today is. Now is the time to improve and take advantage of your life, you might not see it two weeks from now. Think about right now because that’s all we got.” - Rodney, Russell