Why? It Could Be Jesus!
In a half-bakedattempt to thwart a common and frequent injustice within the slums of Chicago, the time came when we knew we'd have to stand up - not just for ourselves within our predominately black community; yet for those less fortunate than us as well - namely the homeless. My grandmama taught me as a young girl that I should take care of those less fortunate than us especially - because it may be Jesus in disguise.
Your Calling Will Come - Answer The Call.
She would always recite the following scripture and told me often that G_d had a special plan for my life and when the time came for me to answer the calling, that I should answer without question as she believed it would be cause of great unity within the world. I have not seen such glory yet I will admit I have accepted the calling into ministry a mere three years ago - and am now through a stroke of convenience after being approached seconds before leaving the United Nations after speaking at an event there last year... I'm suddenlythe director of a United Nations Association after contemplating for three months whether or not I would accept the offer. Ironically, our group is the first ever in our area in 70 years of the establishment of the association itself. We have now established the first official UN Friendly address in our entire region. There are other groups, yet none that haveestablished themselves in our area and none outside of ours that has established the first UN Friendly address except us. This was decided upon by divine intervention.
Therefore, I am always cautious to ensure those less fortunate are cared for when they might be overlooked otherwise. This is the primary reason I remember so vividly growing up in Chicago with snow and sleet and the type of cold that wisks right through to your bones with a wretched type of gut wrenching cold that cannot be overcome except by finding refuge inside a building due to the fierce winds encountered on any given corner hence the name; 'The Windy City'.
Growing Up Slums of Chicago inAmerica. Dangerous Place to Try to Help Others!
Clearly it was no fungrowing up there, despite the beautiful springs and summers - given the community I grew up in - I spent most of my time on the North side and in the better communities with many friends whom were predominately white and well-to-do blacks. All was well until I let time slip away from me and needed a ride home. I lied and was dropped of at a wealthy home. I was ashamed of where I lived and walked 10 miles from there before I could reach any road that looked even remotely familiar to me. I made it home just before dark. Lesson learned and as a side note, oneshould never be ashamed of from whence we came - it's what makes us whom we are today. Despite the dangers involved with having simply lived there.
Daily Challenges that Strengthened Us.
Asa family, we always met with challenges nearly every day. Food was scarce and my family worked hard - together to purchase a brownstone in one of the worse communities where it was suggested by a city official that had taken a liking to me and my community activism ; and suggested often that we as a family hang in there on the promise that the purchase would render us much better off as improvements from the city were coming. The community would undergo what was then called a form of re-gentrification meaning;The restoration and upgrading of deteriorated urban property by middle-class or affluent people, often resulting in displacement of lower-income people - as defined by the 'Free Dictionary'. Whereas gentrification is described as a process of renovation and revival of deteriorated urban neighborhoods by means of influx of more affluent residents, which results in increased property values and the displacing of lower-income families and small businesses. This is a common and controversial topic in urban planning according to Wikipedia.
Re-Gentrification (Legalized Exiling of My People).
Knowing we were to undergo 're' gentrification, we warned others within the community and actually assisted many with elevating themselves yet there were always the occasional issues that begged for one's calm and resolve as we watched our community as we were all looked down upon the store owners near or homes while their prices were quite an inconvenience - despite them being called 'convenience' stores.
It clearly taught me much about business from the onset, of my true and unbiased realization that I had good business acumen. What I learned straight away was that the names of most stores referred to that of the sentiments of the 'owner' not that of the consumer.
Who Truly Saves?
For example, Save-a-Bunch means a bunch of savings for the owners - not for the poor. Case in point; If one is not familiar with saving little by little to purchase items of quality that will last for an extended period of time (thus remedying the necessity for purchasing that item again and again as one may do with cheaper quality items), onewould surely spend much more over time had they waited and saved gradually to purchase quality. At the end of the day, the one whom has saved a bunch is againthe owner. Why? Because they failed to invest enough to purchase quality items, thus causing the poor consumer to purchase the same item over and over again such as a broom or mop from lack of durability hence - the item is made of a lesser quality - breaking and needing replacement frequently.
The Homeless Have Rights Too!
As if this weren't bad enough and to get to the meat of my story, there was one convenience store in particular that often stole from the poor without resistance, and threatened the life of anyone who resisted, both young, old, and anywhere in between.
Until one day I decided I would stand up for those whom could not stand up for themselves whereas no one else would either; and to become the 'voice' for those without one - despite the death threats from store owners from various countries overseas. I knew not all people from their country were this way, and that it was this group of men in particular.
There was a homeless man that truly was a 'recycling king' of our community. At least that's what we called him. He picked up all the cans, bottles, and trash in the community and useda shopping cart to transport these items to the local recycling plant in exchange for a few dollars. Yet every time he would return glass soda bottles to the local inconvenience store, he would be forced to spend there. This was wrong as the bottles clearly stated 'return for deposit'. What I quickly came to understand is that the person whom had originally purchased the soda bottles had 'already' paid the deposit and it was assumed they would return the bottles in order to receive the deposit. This was clearly to receive the bottles back that they may reuse them hence the phrase; reuse, recycle, conserve...
Total and Utter Disrespect.
However, due to the manner in which shop owners were used to demonstrating hatred or a demeaning stance toward locals as if we needed them more than they needed us; morale was low when mentioned how this was a clear and obvious injustice. Therefore, I quickly earned the name of 'Street Lawyer' as a young girl as I became more experienced with giving leads to those needing legal assistance, that they might help themselves.
Sadly, upon trying to help the homeless man receive his deposit cash to take anywhere to spend where he could stretch his money further by shopping at a store with more competitive and reasonable prices; he himself declined my help. Shocked, I assumed he had been intimidated into spending his proceeds from the bottles at this one convenience store.
The Day I Stood Up for a Stranger! (Please Be My Voice)
However, this sentiment did not last long as the man had endured an injuryeither in a fight or otherwise, and needed items to tend to his wounds which this particular store did not carry. Then he came searching for me by the name... 'Young Street Lawyer'. Upon encountering him, I quickly asked him to cooperate and we devices a plan for me to arrive at the store around the time he'd try to obtain his deposit or cash from the bottle return.
The end result is that the store owners yelled at me for trying to stand up for the man and wouldnot give him his cash. I yielded and gave them a very gentle warning that G_d would remedy the situation and that they should watch for the signs and to do the right thing when the time came. They laughed. We both exited.
Assessing the Damages to Be Charged!
I later frequented the store for small items here and there but payed very close attention to the small things and discovered many discrepancies. One of which was a crack in the deep freezer that stored ice cream containing milk. An aspiring nurse and studying on my own with books from the library at the tender age of 7, I knew this might warrant a visit from the health department. Upon even closer inspection I also learned their freezer door would not stay closed and was taped with silver duct tape.
I noticed on another visit that their liquor license was expired and notified city officials of this. In the end, the store owner was happy to give deposits on bottles returned to their store.
I stood up for one who did not have two feet to stand on due to how society saw him - as a nobody. Well I was somebody, in his stead. Several situations arose thereafter where I assisted locals with interpreting the law and exercising their rights. No one was there to assist me when in need so I vowed that I'd forever be the voice for those who have none. These events continue to impact y life in positive ways and reminds me of why advocacy is so important. Being someone's voice changes lives!
Photo Credit: Nicolas Martin
How to Get Involved
As director of The Institute of Higher World Studies - Greater Huntsville, we urge you to facilitate volunteerism and advocacy in your area and to join us in our efforts to make the world a better place - together!
Do your part by learning the mission and goal of the United Nations - to make the world a better place - together!
- Learn About The 17 SDG's or Sustainable Development Goals (2030)
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We are: Greater Huntsville Institute of Higher World Studies
Thank You for Listening.