We all know that there is a direct link between poverty and crime.
I moved to Chicago from The Delta of Mississippi with my teen-aged mother when I was 2-years-old. Mississippi was then and is now the poorest state in America, according to a recent United Nation’s report on Human Development. You all may remember the Global Grind blog on the Poverty of Mississippi Youth. My mom is the fifth child of 11 children; all of whom, including my grandparents, picked cotton as a source of income during summer months. They worked ten hours for 20 bucks. And I’m not talking in the 60s, but in the 80s.
My mother, single and determined to build a better life for herself and child; moved to Chicago at 18.
We moved in with my aunt at Rockwell Gardens Housing projects. I remember being so scared walking up 18 flights of stairs in the pitch dark, because the elevator was never working and neither were the lights in the staircase; i held my nose all the way because the smell of urine made me sick.
When we moved out of the projects we moved to the city’s west side. I could never go out to play because my mother said the neighborhood wasn’t safe. It forced me to get creative; so I’m grateful today. But, at 7 years-old I saw my mother robbed three times on the West Side; once at gun-point while on our way to buy me roller skates; then again in a Currency Exchange, then again while walking to the sitter’s house at 5:30 in the morning, because my mother had to be at work at 7am.