Jump to content


  • Keisha Mathew

    Keisha Mathew is an artist, social activist, world history enthusiast, mental health professional, group counselor, content creator, and a party planner extraordinaire for her family.



    Keisha Mathew

    Keisha Mathew is an artist, social activist, world history enthusiast, mental health professional, group counselor, content creator, and a party planner extraordinaire for her family.

    What living in Chicago has taught me about the world

    Sign in to follow this  
    After living on the north side and south sides of Chicago, this mom of two has finally found her home.

     

    As a parent and a long-time resident of Chicago, I often feel a great deal of conflict toward my changing city. Its natural and man-made beauty, as well as its diversity, are what makes many locals feel so proud to live here. Yet and still, there are things that cause feelings of shame and anguish to surface in many residents, myself included.

    I like how Chicago blends modernization and world-class charm with our simple family values. It’s why so many transplants come here. In one part of town, we have our chill, lakefront vibe and a surplus of fun to be had, while other parts are riddled with dilapidated buildings, underfunded public centers and schools, and conflict stemming from unresolved and ongoing trauma. It leaves many residents of this city feeling mixed emotions. When I think about these things, I feel a range of emotions in the same way Chicagoans feel a range of weather on any given day. 

    [Related: 3 reasons I'm glad my kids aren't growing up in the suburbs like I did]

    I was born and raised mostly in Chicago. If it weren’t for my shy, but adventurous mother and her nomadic lifestyle, I would not have had the privilege of growing up around so many vastly different people. My beginning years were spent in Englewood. Despite what many outsiders may assume about Englewood, it provided so many wonderful childhood memories. My sense of self was influenced by the strength of community I was surrounded by in Englewood. Unfortunately, everything changed with the infiltration of narcotics. I, like so many other residents, witnessed the decline of a community that no longer looked, sounded, or felt like home. Fortunately, my mother had the means to leave an undesirable living situation, which changed my world as a child. 

    Rogers Park and Uptown were our next places of residence. The level of diversity on the North Side was like tasting a new flavor that made me wonder why it took so long to experience such euphoria. The children in the neighborhoods where I lived were the most open-minded and kind-hearted humans I had ever met. As a result, my transition to the North Side was smooth despite the differences. I grew up learning about so many different customs, foods and religions through my friendship with classmates and neighbors. Through our relationships, my new friends and I expanded our parents’ worldview and made them realize that there were very few differences between us. We were members of the human community.

    It wasn’t until I moved into my first apartment in South Shore that I stopped calling the North Side “my side.” After living on the South Side for many years, I repeated history. In 2016, my partner and I took a leap of faith and relocated to the “North Pole” (my side). This time it wasn’t out of fear for our safety, but because of the difficulty in finding a reasonably priced home close to a diverse, level 1+ neighborhood school. Unfortunately (and fortunately), parts of the North Side were still incredibly diverse and economically stable compared to the “prestigious college neighborhood” on the South Side where we lived. I wanted our children to experience the ”world-class diversity” we Chicagoans pride ourselves for having. 

    [Related: Why I didn't move after a nearby shooting]

    Fast forward to now: My daughter has so many friends from different countries, all of which she can identify on our world map. She pronounces their names and countries with ease. As we walk around our neighborhood, seeing a hijab, braids, a spodik, saris, locs, or a burqa is normal to her and a comfort to me. I wish all Chicagoans could experience this harmonious diversity.  It might encourage us to easily identify as citizens of the world.

    Sign in to follow this  

    More related articles

    This summer, let your child be bored

    Boredom is good for kids. Find out how boredom can stoke creativity, awaken passions and interests, and more.

    Resources to help you talk about racism with your kids

    These books, websites, podcasts, articles and more can help you facilitate conversations about racism with your child.

    Raising British kids in the States

    Sharing my traditions, and showing respect for differing customs, is something I can offer to my children.

    Supporting your gifted child during Covid: focus on growth and take a step back

    Parents of gifted children encounter unique challenges when it comes to keeping their gifted children engaged.



  • Join NPN!
    Become a part of our Chicago parenting community. Learn about member benefits and start connecting to other city parents today!

Privacy Policy Membership Terms

© 2021 Neighborhood Parents Network of Chicago

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Thank you for visiting our site. Browsing this site is an acceptance of our We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. and Terms of Use.