After losing my uncle to gun violence in Chicago, I couldn’t find any hope for myself or anything actually good about Chicago. I thought of Chicago as a dark, evil place that I would be trapped in for the rest of my life. I even thought that one day, I may lose my life to gun violence.
Once, when I spoke to my dad about this, he took my brother and me for a drive. We just drove around Chicago. It was an entirely new experience. The smell of pizza flooded my lungs, the smell of Garrett’s caramel and cheese popcorn mix was mouth-watering. Clothing stores flooded the retail space of buildings. The streets were full of people.
The first time that I tried a Chicago style hotdog, it was magical. It was like chugging water after walking around a desert. After that day, I found out how lucky I was to be in a city full of wonder.
My Chicago is a beautiful city that attracts tourists and opportunities. Day by day, we drive by buildings that have millions of dreams in them. Chicago inspires me to become an architect because of the skyline that you can see from the distance. Sometimes I can just imagine myself eating a vibrantly colored Chicago style hotdog while staring at the Chicago skyline. Or maybe even from inside the skyscrapers.
Chicago has also inspired me to become a jazz music player because the sky is the limit for opportunities! The symphony center allows opportunity and growth because we get to witness people who started off just like us. We are able to see how they achieved their dreams, as well as have them show us their talents.
Chicago has over two million people living here. Something must give this city life and pop for so many people to live here. I believe that art gives this city life because we can find art everywhere we go. For example, the Art Institute of Chicago is downtown. Also, Millennium Park has many forms of art. I live on the west side of Chicago. Everyday, after eating a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, I go to school. Everyday, when I go outside, I admire the crystal clear view I have of the Willis Tower surrounded by the vibrant colors of leaves in autumn.
My Chicago is a beautiful city that is overlooked because of its crime. But Chicago is much more than that. My Chicago allows opportunity. Crime is everywhere, but beauty is not. Beauty is what Chicago has. We see beauty in our everyday lives here in Chicago. In the hood, the suburbs, downtown, even on the cement walls and on the sides of buildings.
Chicago has lots of diverse neighborhoods and cultures. Even the food is really good. A lot of people from around the world migrated to Chicago and brought their cultures with them. One example of this is that tomatoes were from Mexico, then they migrated with people to Italy, and now Chicago has Chicago style hotdogs with tomatoes on them.
Chicago is my home, and it always will be. Through all the trauma we experience, there is still light and opportunity in Chicago. Chicago’s Willis Tower is very huge, but our dreams are taller than that tower. If we keep motivation in our hearts and help our communities when we can, our dreams will grow taller.
Read more from the publication "We Have a Dream."