Every morning, I get up at 5:45 A.M, wait for the bus, and take the red line to get to my high school - Uplift Community High School in Uptown. I get off at the Wilson stop, an area known for fights, violence and shootings. I used to ask myself - why do I still put up with this? I almost made myself transfer, but I always changed my mind before mailing the papers in.
A lot of people thik that kids from Uplift Community High School are responsible for the violence in Uptown, but that’s not true. The violence is provoked by some community members affiliated with gang related activity.
My high school has a variety of students coming from all over Chicago. Many of them reside in more violent neighborhoods than Uptown. Their reason for taking the long commute is a simple one: they love Uplift, the atmosphere, their peers, and their teachers.
Few months ago, there was a shooting in Uptown where two Uplift basketball students were shot. One of them suffered a severe bladder wound and the other a scarring foot wound. In just three days in January, one person was killed and two others were wounded in the area. According to a Chicago Tribune article, about two dozen others have been shot in Uptown since last summer. Gun violence has tripled.
I talked to students at my school about the changes in the neighborhood. One student who lives nearby said, “I can walk to City Sports; [but now] I walk past there, and I’ll get my ass kicked, I walk past Lawrence, I’ll get my ass kicked”. This student walks to school everyday, passing different gang turfs every block he steps on. Fear is always a constant for this individual.
Listen: Uplift students talk about how the violence affects their lives.
I asked a group of Uplift students if they’ve experienced the violence firsthand, and they aptly said yes. “I can no longer walk outside with a laptop, or else it'll get stolen,” said one student. The rest nodded in agreement. Others shared that they've gotten robbed or beaten. During this conversation, there wasn't one mouth that stayed quiet; they all had a story with violence in Uptown. Uplift students are victims of the violence, not the cause of it.
In reality, Uplift students are risking their lives to attend school. Why do we think that they are the ones causing the problem?
Text written by Noe Gil
Audio by Terrance Rogers
Photo: Fuzzy Gerdes