Interview of Donald Johnson

Interviewer: 00:01 Okay, we’re going to start off with you having, give me your first and last name spelling, please.

Donald Johnson: 00:11 Donald Johnson. D-O-N-A-L-D J-O-H-N-S-O-N.

Interviewer: 00:16 Nice to meet you Donald. Do you or have you lived in this area in the last 10 years?
Donald Johnson: 00:22 2006.

Interviewer: 00:25 2006? Okay, thinking back from when you first came to this area to today, have you seen any changes?
Donald Johnson: 00:33 Worse.

Interviewer: 00:34 Worse?
Donald Johnson: 00:34 Yeah.

Interviewer: 00:36 What makes it worse?
Donald Johnson: 00:38 The drug activity and stuff like that.

Interviewer: 00:45 Okay. What do you feel caused the changes you’ve seen over the years?
Donald Johnson: 00:47 Construction.

Interviewer: 00:47 Construction?
Donald Johnson: 00:47 Yeah.

Interviewer: 00:47 Okay.
Donald Johnson: 00:47 They do a lot of construction over here.

Interviewer: 00:56 What makes you feel that way?
Donald Johnson: 00:57 Cause I can see it.

Interviewer: 00:58 You can see it?
Donald Johnson: 00:59 Yeah.

Interviewer: 01:00 Okay. So, we are gathering these stories to increase understanding between the city of Minneapolis and the community on the impact of historic discrimination government. I’m sorry, the discriminative government policies and practices in areas like housing, trepidation, economic development, and more examples including housing and employment discrimination in the early 20th century. What impact have these policies or others had on the community in general? So to break it down, if you’ll have a clear understanding.
Donald Johnson: 01:35 Yeah, break it down one more time.

Interviewer: 01:38 So basically, what changes have you seen in the last 10 to 20 years about housing, transportation and employment?

Donald Johnson: 01:49 Well, housing-

Interviewer: 01:50 Anything that’s been like discriminatory in housing that you’ve seen.

Donald Johnson: 01:56 Yeah, I see that all the time-

Interviewer: 01:57 Or in jobs.

Donald Johnson: 01:59 Oh, well jobs, I don’t think it’s that bad in the jobs, but a lot of people say there’s not no job because they don’t go look for one. What I did, I didn’t have no job, I joined the military. That was a job enough for me, you know. So, other than that, as far as the jobs, there’s jobs, there’s a lot of jobs. You just gotta get out there and get it. You know, that’s what I can see.

Interviewer: 02:31 Do you have any feedback on the housing part?
Donald Johnson: 02:33 You can get a house. I done and had two houses since I’ve been here since 2006, you know.

Interviewer: 02:40 Okay, okay.
Donald Johnson: 02:41 A lot of people just don’t wanna, “Well I can’t get no house, I rather choose to go stay at the Salvation Army” and stuff like that. You know, but I didn’t want to do that. You know what I’m saying. But like I said, the military helped me out a lot.

Interviewer: 02:55 That’s good.
Donald Johnson: 02:56 Yeah.

Interviewer: 02:58 What impact have they had on you or your family personally?
Donald Johnson: 03:04 See my nephew, he got four or five buildings, so I would stay in one of his houses, you know and stuff like that. Housing wasn’t really a problem for me. You know, cause the military helps me out still, you know. So housing for me wasn’t a problem. But, like I said, people just want to choose to stay at Salvation Army, or live under the bridge.

Interviewer: 03:26 They ain’t trying to go get it, they just trying to…
Donald Johnson: 03:26 Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It get cold out there, partner.

Interviewer: 03:36 Okay, so what changes have you seen in this community that raise your level of stress or concern about the future?
Donald Johnson: 03:42 My level? Stress, jobs, housing, that stress people out, you know. Robbery, drugs, you know, all that kind of stuff.

Interviewer: 04:05 So how did that effect you personally? How does it like, bother you?
Donald Johnson: 04:13 Cause I see it happening everyday, and I feel sorry for them, but I can’t do that all the time because you gotta help yourself. You know what I’m saying. And so, I can just say look at this, look at that over there, you know, okay, he about to go stay up under the bridge, go to the Salvation Army, or go out there and work for McDonald’s. You know, put a couple dollars away and got your family to help you out, you know, it’s stressing me out thinking. I hate to see people do that. You know, but if live, it’s up to you in, join the military. Go to jail. You know, I see a lot of guys do that.

Interviewer: 04:50 Go to jail?
Donald Johnson: 04:51 Go to jail through the winter.

Interviewer: 04:52 Live there for free.
Donald Johnson: 04:53 Some states, you gotta pay to go to jail. Yeah. Like Colorado and stuff, if they put you in jail for like three or four months, and if you getting a check, you don’t get that check while you in jail. The government get that check.

Interviewer: 05:07 And they pay … Oh my God.
Donald Johnson: 05:10 You pay to live there.

Interviewer: 05:10 Right basically.
Donald Johnson: 05:13 Right, yeah. You know

Interviewer: 05:14 Okay what part of the city of Minneapolis needs to play into relieve that stress?
Donald Johnson: 05:19 South side and north side and the south side.

Interviewer: 05:23 So like, what should they do specifically to help you relieve that stress?
Donald Johnson: 05:28 Well, get me a job.

Interviewer: 05:30 Exactly.
Donald Johnson: 05:30 Get me a job.

Interviewer: 05:33 Okay. What give you hope for the future of this community.
Donald Johnson: 05:46 Well, give me some hope, well, I can’t answer that one right now.

Interviewer: 05:50 Okay. We can just come back to it.
Donald Johnson: 05:51 Yeah, come back to it.

Interviewer: 05:51 When you think about this area today, what impact do you still see from these historic government policies?
Donald Johnson: 06:00 The government take a lot of money and put it, I’d say schools. They need to improve these schools. And they got enough construction going on. They cutting out a lot of bus stops. And that’s not going to help them, cause if you gotta get off right here to go to work, you gotta go way down here to get off and come back. Or get off here and walk way down there. You know, but really just the schools and the churches and stuff.

Interviewer: 06:32 Okay. How do describe the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and the community over the years? Specifically talking the north side.
Donald Johnson: 06:40 The north side is, it’s improving, but like I said man, they need to put some jobs over here. You know, that’s the only thing I can see. If you give a person a job and keep them off the street, they’ll stay off of drugs and breaking in your house. You know.

Interviewer: 06:59 I agree with you.
Donald Johnson: 06:59 Okay. All right. Yeah.

Interviewer: 07:05 What are your expectations of the city of Minneapolis relative to this community?
Donald Johnson: 07:08 What is it?

Interviewer: 07:10 Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Donald Johnson: 07:11 I just like to move around. You know.

Interviewer: 07:14 So, what do you expect from the city of Minneapolis?
Donald Johnson: 07:17 To give me a job. Let me be a firefighter and all of that, you know.

Interviewer: 07:26 So, to what extent do you trust the city of Minneapolis to deliver those expectations?
Donald Johnson: 07:32 None.

Interviewer: 07:33 Okay.
Donald Johnson: 07:33 Nope. Nope. Not right now.

Interviewer: 07:35 Not at all?
Donald Johnson: 07:36 Not right now.

Interviewer: 07:38 What makes you not trust them?
Donald Johnson: 07:40 Huh?

Interviewer: 07:40 What makes you not trust them?
Donald Johnson: 07:40 Do I got a job? No, I just, well the city, they’d rather put five or six police on the street and then get one person a job to work watching the police car. You know what I’m saying. I don’t trust that, you know.

Interviewer: 08:01 Okay, what part do you feel you can play in creating that more hopeful future?
Donald Johnson: 08:07 I’m going back to the same thing, get me a job. Let me work, let me work. And get with some people up on the ladder and then I can help them, you know.

Interviewer: 08:20 So, if you was already up there at the top of the ladder what specifically would you do?
Donald Johnson: 08:23 What would I do?

Interviewer: 08:25 Yeah, if you had a job, if you was at the top of the ladder.
Donald Johnson: 08:25 You know what I’d do?

Interviewer: 08:25 What would you do?
Donald Johnson: 08:29 I’d build an orchard. And y’all wanna pick some apples, tomatoes, that’d give you something to do.

Interviewer: 08:33 Right.
Donald Johnson: 08:37 Instead of standing on the corner. People can’t even ride the bus stop cause you got five or eight people in the bus stop, you gotta stand in the rain, you waiting on the bus to go to work. They just want to sit in the bus stop and drink.

Donald Johnson: 08:49 You know what I’m saying? That’s what I would do.

Interviewer: 08:51 Okay, well back to the other question.
Donald Johnson: 08:53 Okay, bring it on.

Interviewer: 08:55 What gives you hope for the future of this community?

Donald Johnson: 09:00 What give me hope? Can I tell you what I hope for then?

Interviewer: 09:03 Yeah.

Donald Johnson: 09:04 like I said, I would hope for the kids to be more protected on the buses. You know, and you got the dogs running around not chained up. I went walking down here today, this lady let her dog go, I went to the store, I came back, there’s a big old turd about that big [inaudible 00:09:24]. I would have her to clean that up. You know what I’m saying. But hope, [inaudible 00:09:30] what would I hope for? I would hope that kids can just be kids in the park and all that, without all this gang banging and all of that stuff.

Interviewer: 09:40 Yeah, grow up a little bit too fast.
Donald Johnson: 09:40 Keep them in the house then. But you can’t. How you gonna keep kids in the house in the summertime? They gonna run out that backdoor.

Interviewer: 09:49 Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Donald Johnson: 09:49 You know. I know that.

Interviewer: 09:49 Yeah, me too.
Donald Johnson: 09:56 But the north side is, the north side I think is a lot better than the south side. You know, cause I done lived over there too and you know, yeah.

Interviewer: 10:09 What part does the city of Minneapolis need to play in creating
that more hopeful future?

Donald Johnson: 10:15 What part of Minneapolis?

Interviewer: 10:17 No, what part of the city of Minneapolis, like the city of Minneapolis, what could they do to make our community better?
Donald Johnson: 10:28 Back to the same thing man, get a job and more activities, a job is activity, but just give them something, you know, to help old ladies cross the street, you know, go to Cub Food, and that old lady, help that lady to her car.

Interviewer: 10:46 Put her groceries in the trunk.

Donald Johnson: 10:49 Exactly. You know what I’m saying man? I used to do that kind of stuff.

Interviewer: 10:51 I do every blue moon.

Donald Johnson: 10:54 Okay, yeah.

Interviewer: 10:57 I don’t do it too often.
Donald Johnson: 10:59 But you know, I would go to Cub Food, we didn’t have Cub Food in Chicago, we had Jewel. I go to Jewel, sit around for them ladies to come, or “do you need some help ma’am?” You know, and stuff like that. It makes you feel good. And the lady might say, “Well, here go $2 dollars, $3 dollars.”. “No, you keep your money.” You know, something like that, you know. Go cut some grass for them. Shovel snow for them, stuff like that. All that man. You know, it helped me a lot. Where’d you end up? I still went to the military.

Interviewer: 11:34 Maybe that was your time, it was good for you.
Donald Johnson: 11:36 That was something I wanted to do all my life though, go to the military, play G.I. Joe.

Interviewer: 11:41 Well, that’s my last question that I have for you.

Donald Johnson: 11:43 Okay.

Interviewer: 11:44 Thank you for coming and…
Donald Johnson: 11:43 All right, man. Have a good one.

Interviewer: 11:45 Enjoy the rest of your…
Donald Johnson: 11:44 Okay.

Interviewer: 11:45 Thank you for your time.

Donald Johnson: 11:50 Okay. All right, y’all got my picture?

Interviewer: 11:51 Yeah I got your picture.

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