By By Raymond Roundtree Options Laboratory School (c) Columbia Links/Columbia College Chicago

I have been a citizen of the South Side of Chicago all of my life and quite frankly I am not that proud to admit that. Chicago is also known as Chi-Raq to my friends because it feels as if the streets are at war.

I have had firsthand experience of the violence of the South Side. I have been jumped, been pushed to fight, and have been robbed. My mother attempted to be my shield and protect me from all the negative aspects of humanity, but soon I opened my eyes and began to see how cruel the world really is.

At first glance I seem like an innocent, nerdy kid. But everyone has their own perception of who is innocent or not because to others they saw me as prey. I moved around a lot and it seemed like everywhere I went someone always tried to harm me.

It seemed that in every case my skin color and my body build was brought up as a factor. But with all that I never let it affect me. I stayed strong, fought the battles that I was forced to fight and managed to stay happy. The fights that I actually won still ended with a loss because after I had my victory, the sore losers felt the need to jump on me. Eventually, even though it’s sad to say, I became immune to violence.

In 8th grade I was jumped on by at least 15 people. It happened while I was walking home and saw two guys. The two guys were with a girl that I knew from school. I waved at her and I guess the boys thought I was looking at them so they walked over to me and asked why was I looking at them. I remember saying something smart, they said some¬thing back and before I knew it one of them hit me. We fought until I was knocked out and some random bystander broke it up. The next time I saw the guys was once again on my way home but this time I was in an alley. I saw one of the guys in the alley. He approached me and wanted to fight. I fought him and had the upper hand. Until a crowd of people came out of thin air and beat me up, until I got away and transferred schools because the Board of Education felt as if my life was in danger.

I soon moved on, not letting any¬thing bring me down. That was actually my last fight. Surprisingly, I made it into senior year without a fight. I expected high school out of all places to be the most violent. Freshman year I entered and people thought I was way older than what I was so I guess they didn’t want to mess with something that they thought they couldn’t handle. But as am I’m writing this, I still haven’t found out why was I targeted in a series of separate cases of violence. So, I started to think of the psychology of the subject. I compiled a few questions to research.

My opinions were that violence is something learned from the media. But then I soon dismissed that because I listen to music, grew up playing violent games, and watch all types of violent television shows, and I’m not violent nor a bully. So my second hypothesis after a little more research was that violence was maybe genetic or a social thing. There are numerous articles relating violence to a mental disability but there isn’t enough information because it relates to the personality of the person, which is always unpredictable.

Actually, I define personality as the way in which one person acts and it’s true that an act isn’t always actually true. The social theory of violence seems to relate more to how I experienced violence. Most of the cases were by the so–called cool person in the class trying to add to their reputation and bully somebody. An article that I read stated that 85 percent of kids say they were bullied because of the cool vs. uncool argument.
I tattooed heartless on my neck to show that violence will not affect me in the wrong way. All I know is that violence can be prevented. Chi-Raq is a war that I hope will one day end in peace.


Raymond Roundtree is a senior who lives on the South Side. He has an artistic bent and loves to paint and perform modern dance. He wants to major in psychology in college.


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