An open letter to the residents of the larger Phoenix Metropolitan area:

Many of us think of south Phoenix as the area you want to stay clear of as a result of stories we have heard. The stories lead those that don’t know any better to believe that the streets of south Phoenix have nothing to offer but gangs, drugs, and violence. Ironically, the individuals telling the stories have most often never been there either. I have been a resident of Phoenix for the majority of my life, but before beginning this field study course the ‘stories’ were all I had to go on. However, my fears were not for our safety, rather for the fact that I might not be able to prove that the rumors and stereotypes were false like I so hoped to do. My fears were immediately put to rest on the very first day in south Phoenix.

Webbed into the ‘stories’ were frequent references to the race of the people residing in south Phoenix. I don’t believe there is anything I despise more in life than ‘racism’, which is from where most of the stereotypes emerge. Then you add the fact that the majority of the stereotypes are voiced by those completely ignorant to the facts or the truth. This course became the perfect opportunity to confirm for myself that just because an area has a large volume of minorities does not mean there will be a large volume of crime (or any other negative aspects). The streets of south Phoenix may not have possessed all the new high-priced architecture or the ‘name’ locations and chains, but it also did not possess all the spoken of gangs, drugs, and violence either.

South Phoenix may be lacking the ‘new stuff’ but is not lacking history or culture like the remainder of the city. Most of the neighborhoods and shopping centers we are familiar with do not have any defining characteristics that set them a part from all the others scattered throughout Phoenix. Well in south Phoenix you’ll find original businesses, many family owned; old buildings (possessing stories of their own), many painted unique and bright; and friendly supportive communities.

All together I’d say I found even more than I had expected and I am pleased to say that there is still an area of Phoenix that has not gone ‘modern’. I would like to invite any one still ignorant to the reality that is south Phoenix, or any one wishing to escape the ‘same ole stuff’, to come and take a look for yourself!


Amber Blumgren