Wanna be like….South Phoenix!
To anyone who has never before experienced "South Phoenix:
I am a native Phoenician and I can hardly believe that it has taken nearly 20 years to unbury one of the city’s most disguised treasures. Thanks to a class offered by ASU West and Dr. Koptiuch I was able to discover and explore one of the most unique places in the Valley of the Sun. This place is South Phoenix!
Having never ventured into what is now referred to as the “South Mountain Village” (before the class of course), I am ashamed to admit that I grew up with many misconceptions of the area and the people who lived there. I had always believed the area to be crime-ridden and drug-infested while the people were lazy and abused government programs. During the past 8 weeks I have come to realize otherwise. South Phoenix is a part of the city that has a thriving culture and a living history. Most of its citizens are the hardest working people I have ever met. It is a vibrant, evolving community.
As far as crime in South Phoenix goes I have learned that in fact it is not as bad as it is portrayed, especially by the media. When looking at statistics, it is has surprisingly low crime rates when compared to West Phoenix and Glendale. The reason for the negative perception can be attributed to the news and print media. It is said that as crimes move out of “South Phoenix” the media moves the borders of South Phoenix, thus encompassing the crime.
As for the citizens of South Phoenix, they are awesome! They deserve every ounce of respect and I apologize for ever considering them a lazy people. These people work hard to earn a living. In some of my fieldwork I also learned how inviting these people are to talk to. When given the chance to talk to residents I was impressed with their hospitality, sincerity, and integrity.
During my fieldwork in South Phoenix I also learned of the vibrant Latino culture. I realized the major role it plays in the lives of residents and how it remains alive and a part of everyday living. The best way to describe this is in a statement a local manager said of his neighborhood grocery store, the Ranch Market. “It is like going to Mexico, without ever leaving Phoenix!”
As for the changes taking place in South Phoenix, many say that a vibrant culture and history will be lost, but I disagree. I can call myself an optimist when I say they will persevere. Its roots are deep enough and the will of the people is strong enough to keep them alive. If only every other city was like…South Phoenix!
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