I was the fourth child, a son, born to parents that fought every evening as if it were a ritual without which they couldn’t go to bed. My father left us when I was seven. My mother did her best to make ends meet, but it was obvious that three jobs, paying minimum wage, were killing her. When I was twelve, my two older brothers were killed—One by a rival gang and the other by police. The grief soon killed my mother. My elder sister, who had been paying the bills with some help from the state, disappeared a year later. Some says she was a victim of sex trafficking, but I never came to know what had happened to her. There was nobody to pay the bills so I came to live on the streets. Every night, I took the last green train and slept on it; then I went to my ‘hood in the morning.
I have always had mixed feelings about the art and trade fairs that pop up like mushrooms in Chicago and its suburbs, in fact all over the country, every summer. On one side, I am proud of the tradition and the cultural heritage they offer to their audience,but on the other hand I am frustrated by the overwhelming corporate presence in them.