TO THE RESIDENTS OF SOUTH PHOENIX
By Charity A. Hicks
First of all I would like to express my gratitude to you for sharing your culture and way of life with those of us who came into your lives from ASU West Campus. We spent a total of seven weeks observing you and analyzing your view of life. Over the course of the semester, we have read material from various authors regarding such topics as: "Residential Subdivision Identity in Metropolitan Phoenix," by Kevin Blake and Daniel Arreola; "No Place Like Home: On the Manicured Streets of a Master-Planned Community," by David Guterson; and "The Eyes of the Poor," by Charles Baudelaire just to name a few. My class separated into groups of 3-4 people as we studied our surroundings in South Phoenix, and at times we switched partners because we wanted variety. My group consisted of Shiva Delpazir, Janelle Senior, John Shin, Doug Oscarson (a member once), and Manija Sherzada (who also joined my team once). Overall we had a great time!!!
Over the course of nine weeks total (actually seven spent doing field work in the heart of South Phoenix: which includes the region south of the River to South Mountain, as far east as about 24th Street, and as far west as approximately 35th Avenue) I got a taste of life in a part of town much different than the one that I live in. I actually grew up in areas not far from the dimensions listed previously, however time has made severe changes, as I have not lived in the South Phoenix area for about 20 years! Wow!!! Culture has shifted from a primarily Caucasian dwelling to encumber those of Hispanic decent and African Americans. In the course of 7 weeks, my eyes have opened to see how diverse Americans are becoming; however, segregation continues to exist despite the efforts of the Federal Government to regulate this issue.
Some of my teammates' views were similar to mine and others differed. Manija Sherzada wrote an article in reference to Murals as art works. Hopefully the members of the South Phoenix community will adhere to such a beautiful expression for many years to come. Manija makes an important point when she says that murals differ from graffiti, mostly due to the extensive planning and elaborate art work. Self-expression and diversity are important to the citizens of South Phoenix, which is evident in the various colors of homes. Shiva Delpazir points out that neighborhood express "culture" do to the abundance of old cars and antiques of many sorts. Through the last 9 weeks, I have noticed how structured and uniform Americans in newer neighborhoods have become. At the expense of newness and cleanliness, we have traded off "culture."
Wonderful programs exist in South Phoenix to assist the less fortunate individuals and families struggling due to misfortune. Christopher Brown mentions the Travis L Williams Family Services Center as a community support program. This group focuses on supplying individuals and families with day to day needs. Christopher Brown elaborates more on this program in his website. But he does mention that through the Travis L. Williams Family Services Center, people can obtain emergency food boxes; also available to the community are computer rooms designed to assist individuals in job hunting and learning new parenting skills. What a wonderful opportunity to better oneself through state funded programs. New and improved does not always mean better. Through taking this class I have learned that people can very easily take their fortune in life for granted. A simple life rooted deep in one's culture and history is such a beautiful sight!!! Thank you very much for sharing your lives with me for the last few weeks, and what a beautiful part of the city to live in!!!
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