Group Project: High School Interview in South Phoenix

  For a group project Thomas, Ash, Jackie, and I decided to interview a group of high school student in South Phoenix for several reasons. For one we did this for our own personal reasons so that we could better see for ourselves how things were in the schools. Then there was obviously the reason of analyzing and researching the views of the children of South Phoenix. In this group project our goal was specifically to get a better idea of what exactly South Phoenix is without all the stereotypes. In this essay my goal is to discuss what I’ve learned through my own point of views, what I learned, and then specifically discuss the idea of what the kids in South Phoenix think of the what ghetto means to them.
        My first impressions of walking into the class were nothing more that what I would experience walking into a class at any school. The only real difference that I noticed right off hand what that 19 of the 25 students were African American. We were welcomed and respected by the teacher and students of the class and we later learned that it was a government’s class. Everyone in the class had something to say to our questions we gave but in particular there were 5 students who voiced their response to us. One of the questions we asked was what places they feel are dangerous. A young girl named Stevie quickly named Scottsdale and Chandler as places she felt was dangerous. Tony, one of the other students said that one of his friends was a victim of an attempted kidnapping. However a girl names Sally told us that she felt that South Phoenix was dangerous and unsafe. The class’s reaction quickly turned, many in the class disagreed with her opinion and even voiced positive things going on in South Phoenix.
        One of the other questions we asked was what they thought about raising a family in South Phoenix. One of the male students, David told us that he would “love to raise his own family in the newer area of South Phoenix.” Many in the class remained quite after that question was asked but when David said what he did many shook their heads in agreement with him. A question of how they (the students) see their school administration. Tony told us that the students and administration have a close relationship one in which is inspiring and caring. Stevie added that the administration helps them to succeed and the makes the future seems possible.
One of the last questions our group decided to ask was what they think about how many feel that South Phoenix is the Ghetto and dangerous. The class got really loud and agitated over the thought that others were looking in on them and thinking what told them. Stevie told us that “Ghetto is a frame of mind.” To her she said ghetto is when someone goes into a market in their pajamas and as far as people seeing South Phoenix as being dangerous its because the media is more “hushed” and out of the media’s eyes; David added that ghettos exists all over Arizona not just South Phoenix. One of the other more responsive students Dorothy told us that Ghetto is “in all groups and that it just depends on the person.” Whether a person sees something ghetto or not matters on that person’s definition.
Which brings me to my own interest which is the topic of South Phoenix being called the ghetto and the word itself. Over the last few weeks my group and I have seen much of South Phoenix and have to disagree with what society has placed on the residents of South Phoenix. In fact I would agree with David and the idea of living in the newer areas of South Phoenix because of the surroundings being so similar to where I currently live. With a star bucks on every corner as well as very common stores like Target, Applebee’s, Jack in a Box, and so on I would feel no different there than where I live now. As far as South Phoenix being defined as a ghetto I disagree I have seen worse in other states and to be honest I really like the way Dorothy and Stevie described how they see what ghetto being. They said it better than I ever could haves it is truly a “frame of mind” it depends on the person. To me South Phoenix is not the ghetto but a place like Southside Los Angles is much more dangerous and so called “ghetto” in my eyes. But others may see South Phoenix as being a ghetto or Scottsdale or even places like Ahwatukee.
        In conclusion of doing this assignment I feel that this was by far the most interesting and learning experience of the whole class. This project made me understand that not everything is as it seems and that to prejudge only blinds and hurts those we are prejudice towards. The students were extremely helpful and full of information that I know none of us knew or probably would have ever known. By doing this assignment I feel that I have a more level headed thought on my interests of defining the word ghetto in my own terms. Instead of thinking of the word as being so negative as our society has portrayed instead I see it more as a defining word in which does not explain but is explained with the word. To me the word ghetto is universal and can be used with everything, but to find one true definition simply does not exist. Thank you to the students, teacher, and administration that permitted us to conduct this interview.

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Ash Rupp

Jackie Vega

Thomas Haas