Last month, Rachel Kim, our outgoing education editor, had the idea for the South Side Weekly to hold a student essay contest this summer. The theme for the contest was topical: as Lori Lightfoot was to be sworn in as mayor, we wanted to hear from middle and high school students from around the South Side what they wanted Mayor Lightfoot “to know and understand about [their] neighborhood,” and the “stories and memories about the people and places in [their] community” that “best exemplify the future of Chicago [they] want to see.”
You might be wondering why I’m here speaking out right now. The reason is to speak my mind as a Mexican-American girl growing up on the Southwest Side of Chicago. I might be young but no mind is ever too old or too young to think about topics of community and justice. I am not only speaking for myself but for the people who feel undervalued because of where we come from. I am not saying this for people to have pity for us, but to show people we want to be heard and respected. What people don’t understand is that violence is not where I come from. I come from a community that is being told we “are the problems.” And if you let me, I will show you how each part of Chicago is actually the solution.