Come from the block, but what does that mean? In every city around the world, there is one notoriously renowned area, where people live. In this place, there are security issues, problems with education, and drug use.
The majority of people living in this district are poor or just living with the minimum salary. In fact, people living in the block are often immigrants or descendants of immigrants, the majority of them come from working class backgrounds. Many of them work as a Nanny’s, Security Guards, Cleaners, etc.. They live here because the rent is not too high (but still consumes a huge proportion of their income), around the big cities, you have to make sure to find a job, but for some people this does not always become the reality. In those districts named Council Estates (which often has negative connotations) young people are often stigmatized, and jobless which often results in those people suffering with insecurity issues. When you read something about those places in newspapers or hear about it on television, take note on how these areas are represented. More often than not, they are portrayed to us in a negative way. Drugs traffic, police intervention, insecurity, murder, revenge attack, etc, these words constantly seem to be linked to these areas.
Place of strong community
There is another vision of living in the block. Indeed for many people living inside, this is a place of community, where people from different origin leave together and share with his neighbor what they have and help each other. I am not living in a block but I have friends and family living there, and by talking to them and visiting their homes, I can honestly speak from their point of view.
In their vision, It’s a place where a single mother can ask the mum next door to take her children and accompany him to the same school where their own child goes. It’s a place where children grew up together and spend lots of time together. Therefore and their social bonds tend to become very strong.
It’s a place where young women become women at the same time, share their passion and enjoy parties together.
It’s a place where teenagers dream big and create things collectively. I’m thinking about rappers for example.
It’s a place where people support each other and they have each other’s backs. People from the block sometimes create associations. Each member of the association pays contribution monthly and one member is appointed for the month take all the money collected and keep it for himself.
Life is hard, and that’s the way they found to survive with a small revenue. The association is not just for money, but also a location where you can have a social life, make friends and belong to a group of friends.
In ‘ghetto’, like they are called, the community feeling tends to be very strong. When you feel like society is rejecting you, you have to find something to hang on, something you feel part of. That’s why community links are very important for them. For Arwen who is 14 years old, the neighborhood is his refuge, the place where he feels the best, “Here, we all know each other, we are never alone. When I’m older, I hope to stay in my neighborhood. That’s where I feel the best, even though I know we have a bad reputation.” As he said, living in these kind of places, you will never be alone. No matter who you are, you belong to the block, it’s your identity.
The block defines who you are. For many people, when they’re trying to find a job this is barer, for many of them it’s a pride but is it a real pride?
The truth is, for people who come from the block, leaving the block can be seen as a sign of success. Because, regardless of how much they enjoyed to be a part of this community, how much your childhood was fun, for some people, you don’t want to stay here forever. When you grow up, you see the reality differently, you want to become someone, live in ‘this other side’ and get your family and your parents away from that place and It’s also what your parents want for you. In fact, you realize all the sacrifice they have made for you, they work harder to give you a house, to pay for the food and bills. When you realize that, you have a rage inside you, this rage who gives you the power to make great or bad things. That rage pushes you to do everything in your power to become someone.
I think, the rage explains everything, and is the source of the greatest and the worst things that happened inside the block. In fact, all is connected, the rage transforms a child into a young man or woman, and the achievement of your goals, transform you into an adult. You can have a good rage. The rage that causes you to work harder to become someone; create your own company, graduate, get a good job and buy a house for you and then perhaps buy a house for your parents in their original country. Yeah, you must know that for the most of immigrants people, having a house in their country of origin is a sign of success, so when you’re a descend of immigrant, when your parents didn’t achieve their dreams, you want to realize it. To make your parents happy and proud of you. But, even in a good rage you can make a bad choice, the choice of making easier money by starting a drugs business for example.
This rage can be changed into something bad, starting by complaining about your situation, pointed the society for your fate and looking for the person responsible to blame. Like that, your rage turns into hate and violence against society and turns an innocent kid into a criminal adult.
In the end, it’s our choices that determine who we are. You can choose to complain about the fact you’re on the sideline and are being stigmatized. Or you can choose to change everything, without denying where you come from by working harder to get what you want. I’m not saying that It’s gonna be easy. In fact, you will start at the bottom, but you will have a goal to complete and will be able to help the next generation to keep your value without living the same misery and misfortune. It’s up to you to change your life to the life you’ve always wanted.