A Letter to All My Friends From Big Cities


I just want my city to be proud of me. I want people to know I accomplished something for my city. I didn't run away to leave my city but to create a better life for me in order to give the inner-city kids an opportunity I never had.

It's funny because I find those who come from popular cities wanting the same for themselves.
As a college student attending school in my hometown, I've encountered many people from around the country at my university than in any other place I've lived in Rochester. I decided to dedicate this post to the conversations I've had with my friends from big cities.

Dear Friends,

As I listen to Where I'm From I'm trying to figure out where my loyalty lies to my city. A place that has given me morals and ambition I wonder where can I turn when those around me feel sheltered by my city limits? Dorothy said, "there's no place like home", but I'm starting to feel more of an outcast here than a Rochestarian.

It may be the signs of gentrification. It may be because I no longer have Mid-town to tend to for my comfort or even walking the overpass that connected me to Downtown Rochester. In 2008 when Mid-Town closed so did a piece of my childhood. When you continuously ask why my city's downtown is dead? This is why I say you're walking in ruins.When you tell me “there's nothing to do in Rochester” I don't have much of a response because I find myself at a loss trying to remember when there was time as a child I started to explore my city.

Unlike so many of my peers, it didn't begin until I was 18. By then many things transpired, due to issues of violence and discrimination venues and programs in the inner-city began closing down. It's funny how these closures were targeted towards places that had an "urban" audience. It's funny how those who had these outlets didn't know how to maintain it. Dammit, even the skating rink seemed out of reach. For some odd reason, I remember the stories my uncle would tell me about Skate Town, a back in the day skating rink that now looks like something out of What's Happening.

Speaking of the past, I think about how many people this city has become a bridge for development. I also think of those who left to never once look back. Those who never reach up to lend a helping hand from those within their home communities. Those fearful to tell people where they're from because no one knows why or where Rochester caged birds sing. Yet, the one thing everyone seems to remember about this city is it's "the place no one ever wants to travel back to".

It is through my experiences here I've realized that no two cities are the same but the people within is another story.

Just because my city may not be at the forefront of every magazine doesn't mean those who have dreams here are not able to achieve them. Just because our revolution is not televised and there are no films exemplifying the struggle of Rochester's inner-city life does not mean it doesn't exist. Just because our hoods don't mirror the hoods in your city doesn't mean these are "nice" places to live. Just because my city is located upstate doesn't mean we live upscale.

The juice is everywhere. Folks are looking to be paid-in-full, bellies ready to eat and people starving for the recipe to success.

Of all the glamour we learn of big cities I've learned that YOUR stories are not only parallel to ours but have become hidden in the limelight. The ones about the streets you can't walk and the places you feel like you no longer belong. The area you once called home filled with hippies and covered with a blanket they call "progress". I guess it's because no one wants to say how Los Angeles and New York that although are filled with opportunity citizens still feel far removed from the Park Aves and Hollywood Boulevards.

Your cities are outlined with the same little urban kids from small blocks like mine who just WANT TO MAKE IT.