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Past The Network

July 26, 2010

“You walked here from where? Brown Ave? Your white ass must be crazy, I don’t even go down there.” A young girl, slender in build, with inquisitive eyes that seemed to search mine for hints of my thoughts, stood in the doorway. The smell of dinner baking in the oven rolling out of the open screen door. “Mama! This man wants to talk to you about – who are you with again?” “I am with ACORN.” I replied. “He’s with ACORN!” A plump woman with a bright smile approached the door with the same inquisitive eyes. I explained some of the issues her neighbors on her block had expressed to me. Informed her and her daughter some of the things we were doing in the area. Invited them both to attend a neighborhood meeting we were holding. “You trying to organize down in Quindaro?” The mother asked. “Yes, there are many issues that need to be addressed down there.” The mother and daughter then began to explain to me their own thoughts on the area. “They’re always shooting down there!” The daughter exclaimed. “The mother told me of an experience she had on her way home from work where the kids in the car in front of her started shooting at a man walking down the side walk, killing him before they sped off. She said she now takes a different way home from work. The inquisition in her eyes was gone, her bright smile withdrawn and replaced with the desire to leave the conversation and go back to her cooking. Her and her daughter both said they would try to make it to the next meeting. I left them all of my information and moved on to the next house. These stories were common. Violence and drugs had taken over a neighborhood that seemed abandoned by the politicians. Urban developers with plans to by up the land for cheap, and build expensive condo’s that the people who currently lived in the area could not afford. The elders of the area remembering a time when the grocery store was still down the street. Before all the businesses had left. How tax money was being funneled out to the suburbs. To the newly built NASCAR race track and the development that sprawled out in all directions around it. Miles and miles from the violence and overgrown lots of Quindaro. Far past the network. Turning off of 27th Street onto Brown Ave was an erie feeling. An abolitionist outpost before the civil war, during the times of Bleeding Kansas, Quindaro was once a stronghold for the Underground Railroad. During my time in Quindaro the walls around Brown Ave, and other Quindaro streets echo the tales of drug dealers, of broken dreams, of lost hope.

An unfinished recollection of my experience as a community organizer.

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