West of Ninth: People, in their own words…

Sept. 9, 2020
Juan, Algonquin
“I was born and raised in the West, on 41st and Broadway. Shit, my experience here has been lovely, painful and grateful. It showed me a lot. The hood will either make you or break you. It’s all about what you get out of it.

Growing up down here, I done seen a lot. I done seen close friends lose their minds to schizophrenia or drugs. People just take the wrong route in life. At the end of the day, I’m grateful because it showed me hustle, and it showed me compassion. It showed me how to respect the process. It showed me patience.

This year, I learned that you have to really love one another, even with COVID. Man, COVID took some people that I would’ve thought had years to live, like never die. It just taught me how to cherish life. My people’s granny died. They were saying that her husband was supposed to go before her. She caught COVID and didn’t want to go on the oxygen tank or the ventilator. It’s crazy. It broke a whole family down. She was the leader, she kept the family together, and she’s gone. My whole lil’ neighborhood’s fucked up.

I’m just trying to stay focused and keep my head forward. I just gotta concentrate on goals. As a [n-word] from the hood, I wanna own my own business. I’m trying to strive to get my lawn service back crackin’ that right way. I just gotta stay motivated.

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Life keeps me motivated. I got two kids, man, and they motivate me. I want them to want for nothing. I don’t want them to go through the struggle I went through or even have to be in the hood and see the struggle. You feel me? I don’t even want them to see the struggle!

The biggest challenge that I face is self-confidence. I have to believe in myself and want it for myself. As a Black man, I feel like everything’s already against you, so you have to be confident in everything that you do in life. Stay away from the opinionated. Don’t care about people’s opinions because they don’t matter. Nothing’s wrong in your eyes.

Be all you can be and if you can’t change the people around you, you gotta change the people around you. Don’t get caught up in what people think. Be you.”

West of Ninth began as a Louisville photography blog, westofninth.com, by two Russell residents, Walt and Shae Smith. With a love for their community, Walt and Shae see the value and potential of all nine neighborhoods that make West Louisville. Armed with a Nikon DSLR, a recorder and the ability to never meet a stranger, their goal is to shed light on the attributes that make West of Ninth the greatest.

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