SSIF: So Ganika, do you want to start with your first photo?
Ganika: This is my niece, Jamaria, she was just looking so lost that day.
Ganika: So I just snapped a picture.
SSIF: Yeah, do you live with your niece?
Ganika: Yeah, she just, she a fighter.
SSIF: What do you mean by that?
Ganika: When she cannot get her way, she gonna, she was gonna fight to get out of there. She was fighting to get up out of there. She I kept trying to get her attention to get up out of there, and I just snapped a picture when she was just looking.
SSIF: Yeah she looks pretty surprised. How old is she?
SSIF: What do you usually do with your niece?
Ganika: Well, she comes over sometimes because, my sister, my sister, she like to drop her baby off and leave her baby and never come back. Come back a few weeks later and then get her baby. So we have problems with that, I really do, my momma do, and everyone else in our house do. She just dropped her baby off yesterday. And we did not know. I woke up on the couch, the baby was sitting right there.
Ganika: Yeah, so we have problems with my sister. That’s why my momma don’t allow my sister to come over all the time because we always have problems with her, she always dropping her baby off on us. Because when people have things to do, we cannot do things because we have her daughter.
SSIF: Yeah that makes sense.Why does she drop her off so often?
Ganika: Cause she do not have nothing else to do. She don’t have no life going for herself. And everybody think that. My grandma think that. My mother think that. My sister think that. And my little sister too.
SSIF: Why do you think that is?
Ganika: I think, I feel sorry for my sister because she was with somebody that pushed her too far to go into a relationship that she wasn’t ready for. I don’t want to be pushed into a relationship if I don’t want to be in it. It just, it just not right. At all. And she wasn’t ready for no kids. When she had the last one, she just wasn’t ready for, just wasn’t ready to take care of her.
SSIF: What do you think would make the situation better? What do you think would be best for Jamaria and her sister?
Ganika: What would be best for her? If she can just be with somebody that can really really take care of her. That can really take care of her and show her attention because of my nephew now, they always say my momma always lying, saying that she gonna come over here and see us, and that’s bad when a four year old say that. And I just sit there and I’m like, he just say his momma be lying, she gonna come and get us and she never came, so my nephew be upset.
I told my mother that, what my mother said. It’s not right. It’s not right, how a momma just abandon her kids like that. It’s not right at all.
SSIF: You’re talking about your sister right?
Ganika: Yes. She twenty-three years old. Her name is Jalesha. And it’s not right.
SSIF: Yeah, I totally understand why you feel that way. And you think it would be better if someone else were to take care of Jamaria and your nephew?
Ganika: Because my momma already taking care of my older sister’s kids because they live wiht us too. And her son’s with us too. And when she come over there, it’s basically too many kids in the house.
SSIF: That’s hard.
Ganika: My older sister has four kids. She has three kids. My other little sister, she eighteen and she has one. That’s too many kids.
SSIF: Yeah, that’s a lot of kids.
SSIF: Do you all live in the same place?
Ganika: Yes, we do. But my mother make room…
SSIF: For everyone?
Ganika: Yes, she make room.
SSIF: How does this affect you? How do you feel about this situation?
Ganika: How do I feel about this. I feel upset because I don’t have kids, and I have to watch her. My little sister just has to stay at home and watch her, she there right now. And I feel upset because I don’t want my little sister to be staying out of school and me just watching a child that’s not mines. I feel that she should be with her child, being a mother, what mothers do. Even if you not the best mother, you could still spend time with her.
SSIF: No, that makes sense. I can see how this would make you very upset. Is there anything you want to tell me more about Jamaria? Do you want to move to a different photo?
Ganika: You can go to a different photo.
Ganika: That’s my sister Delisha. She has a baby named Malayja. She real silly. You know, just a pretty pretty girl. When her eyelashes on, she ain’t got no eyelashes on, she real silly, she be on snapchat, just having fun, making videos on snapchat with her baby. Just having fun, all the time. And she be doing her hair and getting sew ins and stuff. Just a pretty pretty girl, all the time. She likes to dress up. She like to do a lot of stuff, like to go out, like to have fun. Her friend be babysitting her daughter sometimes. And her daughter be going out of town with, um, the father, and she going to go to a daycare over here. And I be going to the daycare with her, helping her out and stuff. And then, her baby be giving people strong looks. She give them a strong look just like that. But without the smile.
SSIF: Do you have a good relationship with Delisha?
Ganika: She just like the silly type, so I can’t take her serious sometime because hse just be too goofy, so that’s why I gotta walk off on her.
SSIF: What do you like to do together?
Ganika: We always in the house. And sometimes I’m not in the hosue. So on Sundays, we just be doing everything. Since we don’t go to church, we spend time together watch movies, just doing lots of stuff. You know, sunday dinners, be with their kids, everything. Even doing hair. My mother do hair, so it be a lot of doing hair up on Sundays.
SSIF: That sounds fun. I only have a little brother, and he doesn’t do my hair.
Ganika: That’s my mother. Now she was mad that I snapped that picture of her.
SSIF: She looks a little mad, yes.
Ganika: Yeah, she was like, “girl, what is you doing”. I just snapped a picture and then I just ran. Cause she just did her hair and she was just so sleepy that day, cause she just got done doing two heads. She did a sew in and another sew in, so she was tired.
SSIF: Is that what your mother does for a living?
Ganika: Yeah, she do hair, she went to hair school.
SSIF: Yeah it looks good in this picture.
Ganika: Yeah she got a mohawk now.
Ganika: My little sister just did her last night.
SSIF: Oh that’s so cool.
Ganika: Yeah she had some of her hair cut off up here, just like the….but in the back, just be all cut on. So my momma did her hair in the mohawk like that.
SSIF: Do you think that’s something you’d want to do in the future too?
Ganika: Well I’m not good at doing hair? I was on a mannequin head and they told me I was terrible. I’m not good at that. But I know how to braid.
SSIF: What do you think you would want to do if you didn’t follow your mom and braid or do hair.
Ganika: I would go, like, I would like to act, go to an acting school. Or you know, write my own poetry because there are a lot of people out here that are struggling what to say and I feel like I’m tired of struggling because the things that I say in my book I mean it. It’s a lot of struggling down here and I feel that people shouldn’t struggle no more because it’s time to say something or it’s time to write about it. You cannot feel like that no more. You cannot feel like that no more because someone made you feel like that.
SSIF: What exactly are you talking about when you say that.
Ganika: When I say a lot of people struggling down here, it’s a lot of people that have been hurt, a lot of people that have been terrified by a lot of things. So sometimes you got to get over it sometimes, people can get over it. So I believe you can write about it or it’s time to talk about it. SSIF: What type of hurt do…
Ganika: It’s a lot of killing, you know, rapes, and all that going on out here. So some people still terrified from a long time ago but it’s the future now. That was the past. And I feel like sometimes they need to get over it. But sometimes they can’t.
SSIF: Do you think there’s a way they can’t get over it.
Ganika: Because of what a person might have did to them a long time ago. And what if she might see them today and get scared again.
SSIF: Do you think there’s any way to move on from that?
Ganika: To move herself around ,to move herself around out of that old space and move her to a new space.
SSIF: Ok, makes sense. When you say space, do you mean like a physical space?
Ganika: I mean a quiet space, a quiet space with nice people, people that respect you for you and not disrespecting you, that type of space.
SSIF: Yeah that’s important. Do you feel like you have that type of space in your community?
Ganika: There’s a lot of people that might bump into you and be disrespectful. Like when you be in line and that person bump you out of line and start cussing at you and stuff, and I feel that’s disrespectful because what if I was in the line first and why would you bump me. It’s quiet down here now because, it’s cold outside. So it’s really quiet now, quiet now around the whole block. It’s really really quiet. Just kids going to school now, like always, and it’s definitely going to be quiet because they in school.
SSIF: Do you want to keep looking at your photos?
Ganika: That’s my momma doing my little sister’s hair. And she did not know I was snapping a picture of her. She was getting a sew in. And my mother was looking for her needle and thread. And she on her phone, like always, facebook, twitter, all that. She just always on her phone. She the type of person, girl, I just got a new diary and...oh my god, I just saw this cute boy at school, he was cute, and oh I got a crush on him. She just crazy.
SSIF: I have some friends like that too.
Ganika: She crazy. I’m like every time you come home you got a new crush or someone. Said I don’t even like him no more. I don’t even like him no more cause he got a girlfriend, he was trying to flirt with me. I’m like, girl, go sit down somewhere.
This is one of my momma’s fashion pictures. She just like fashion and dresses and stuff. If she goes to a runway show, she would love it. She might be wanting to try different hairstyles and stuff.
SSIF: Yeah this is really pretty, did she draw that?
Ganika: No she bought that. I just snapped a picture of it.
That came from Paris. And one of my uncles bought that for her. And he was like I don’t know if you might like this but I bought it for you. She said thank you and put it up on her wall.
SSIF: Oh this was the photo you were talking about downstairs.
Ganika: Oh this one, she just praying. She might be thinking, somebody please help me get through what I’m going through. Like all the problems she going through, she just praying about it.
SSIF: Is your family religious?
Ganika: I wouldn’t know nothing about none of that.
SSIF: No, I’m just wondering because of the picture.
Ganika: We don’t, we don’t. But I do believe in God though. I did go to church when I was young, but I always fell asleep and I got a headache when I was young, it was all loud, you know, drums and stuff. And when I my grandma turned over, she was girl, wake up. You missed all the music, you missed everything. She like why your stockings messed up. I was like, because my leg was itchy grandma. My leg’s itchy. I said they was itching, so I don’t even know why.
SSIF: Do you still see your grandma a lot?
Ganika: Yes, but it’s a little boring at her house. There’s nothing to do. So I don’t want to get trapped over there.
SSIF: Does she live far away from you?
Ganika: No, she and my daddy live close together but not in the same building though. My grandma, when she start talking, it’s just over with. Cause when she mad, it’s time to go sit down. Then she get on the computer, she get on her phone, she start praying. She say, I’m gonna call you back because I’m on a praying line. So she praying for whoever. And I’m like, okay, I’m going to call you right back.
These just a lot of colors, just really colorful. That’s peace, hope, and love. Love, peace, and hope. Sometimes you gotta think about that.
SSIF: Is this in your room.
Ganika: Yes, it fell. That’s a picture of a famous person. She everywhere.
SSIF: Is this marilyn monroe.
Ganika: Yes, she everywhere. That’s in my momma’s room.
SSIF: Does she like her?
Ganika: She doesn’t look like her, but she like her. That’s a lot of nails and stuff, stuff that my niece do. They took a picture of that for me, even though I didn’t want them to to take a picture of it. I say, why.
SSIF: Do you do your nails often with them?
Ganika: No, I go get my nails did.
I don’t want the little kids messing up my nails. I want them did right.
SSIF: Oh there’s so many pictures of them.
Ganika: Oh that’s our pregnant cat, just lazy, just fat. You shouldn’t mess with her cause she just feisty.
SSIF: How long have you had her for?
Ganika: We don’t know but we had her a real long time though.
SSIF: That’s how my roommate’s cat is too. He just sleeps all day.
Ganika: That’s like some china stuff. And my mother just be buying pictures and something that looks right, she just be buying it.
SSIF: Yeah, you seem to have a lot of pictures in your house.
Ganika: Yeah because of my mother. She a shopping lady. She just shops a lot.
SSIF: I mean they’re all pretty.
Ganika: I had that picture. That picture was me in 2012. We had a substitute. He was like draw and stuff. He drew me. I had crochets in my head, they was like really really hurting. I kept trying to scratch it out and stuff. I didn’t want to blink or nothing. He was like just take your time, just sit there, don’t say nothing. And I looked at it.
SSIF: Was this a substitute teacher at your school.
Ganika: Yeah he was a substitute. And it’s on my door at my house.
SSIF: Do you draw as well?
SSIF: But you do poetry and you want to do acting.
Ganika: I do it sometimes when I get the chance to. Clarence be drawing and stuff.
SSIF: Thanks for going through all your photos with me. If there was one thing you could tell anyone like me, someone outside of your community who doesn’t know you very well, what community means to you, what would you want to tell them.
Ganika: I would tell them to be strong, be strong. And be safe. And if you don’t want to live in Englewood, you don’t have to. You can live anywhere you want to live. And if you not from Englewood, you don’t have to live in Englewood, you can live anywhere you want to be.
SSIF: Do you want to live in Englewood?
Ganika: I live in Englewood. I live up the street. But it just, Englewood just not me. It’s just not me period.
SSIF: Why do you say that?
Ganika: Because, I’m not trying to say that Englewood a bad street to be on, but it just not a lot of help going on out here. Some people, it’s just not a lot of help but when you bump into a stranger, that stranger could be a lot of help.
SSIF: What do you mean by a lot of help?
Ganika: I mean that if a person that you be knowing for a long time said we can get together and we can help the community out, and she doesn’t do anything. But if I bump into a stranger on the street and that man knew a lot of people, and they helping me out everywhere, I feel like I can get more help from a stranger than a person that I know.
SSIF: Do you think there’s a reason for that?
Ganika: It’s a reason that some people don’t do what they say they’re going to do.
SSIF: Do you feel like, I guess our topic this time was kind of health and wellness. Do you think that’s true of health and wellness in Englewood too?
Ganika: Yes I think people need a lot of healthiness going on in here, and wellness too. Because it’s a lot of shootings and things going on and people need to be healthy out here because there’s a lot of shootings and people dying. And if you can’t be healthy, why wouldn’t you want to be healthy right after you got done being shot up. And at least you went to the hospital and doctor saved your life. But the doctor always going to tell you to be healthy, the doctor always going to say you got to eat good, you got to run, you got to do a lot.
SSIF: So is that what being healthy to you means?
Ganika: That’s what I mean, being healthy, you got to keep your body right, you got to eat right, you got to do a lot of things. A lot of people here, you wouldn’t know who got shot. You wouldn’t know, you wouldn’t know unless a person open their mouth and tell you. I’m saying people have to be healthy around here because there’s not a lot of healthiness going around here.
SSIF: What do you think would make that better?
Ganika: If people came around here and helps. Like pick up trash, pick up...and help. How we did, what I mean is how we built this house, a lot of people came and helped build this house together. That’s what I mean.
SSIF: And do you think I Grow makes this community healthier?
Ganika: Yes I do, cause it’s a team going on down here. And I feel that if everybody just be in their right state of mind, everything will be right instead of wrong.
SSIF: What do you think people need to be in the right state of mind.
Ganika: People need to be in the right state of mind of helping each other, saying how you doing, walking in. Even though you had a sad day, I’m going to make you have a happy day. If somebody have a bad interview or something, ok, keep going on interviews, keep going on interviews. I understand it’s bad, but if you want a job, you got to go through it.
SSIF: Why do you think people are in that state of mind to begin with.
Ganika: Well I’m in the state of mind of getting me a new job. I was in the peace circle and I felt like, it’s not right for me anymore, like we talk about our problems and stuff but I feel like it’s kind of boring to me, and sometimes like when you get played by a person and you feel it? And I felt it.
SSIF: In the peace circle?
Ganika: Yeah, I felt it. I felt it by coming back and asking for my check, and I never got a check.
SSIF: And that’s where you were working?
Ganika: Yes, I came and asked Robin about my check and I never had one, so basically I was fired. They never told me I was fired but I felt like I did get fired.
SSIF: That makes sense. Where are you looking for a job now?
Ganika: I’m just looking for anything. That’s right. Anything.
SSIF: Are you still in school?
Ganika: No, I’m not.
SSIF: That makes sense. What type of job, if you could have any type of job in the world, what would you do?
Ganika: I would pick acting, having my own club of, you know, poetry, and keeping everybody together.
SSIF: Why do you think that’s so important to you.
Ganika: Because I’ve been thinking of that since I was a little girl, and I’ve been thinking of that since I got older, since I don’t have money like everybody else. I can’t get that now. So it seems like you have to take time to get what you really want.
SSIF: Yeah, thank you so much for talking to me. Is there anything else you want me to say about anything?