Interview of Jenese Thomas

Jenese Thomas: Jenese Thomas. J E N E S E T H O M A S.

Interviewer: Alright and reference to this map, do you, or have you ever lived in or near any
of these parts of North Minneapolis and if so, how long.

Jenese Thomas: Yes, the North Community High School area and 4 years.

Interviewer: Alright. Thinking back from when you first came to this area, to today, what changes have you seen? Positive and negative.
Jenese Thomas: The reconstruction of Plymouth, Penn, Broadway, and no positive change.

Interviewer: Okay. Why do you say there’s no positive change? What makes you say that?
Jenese Thomas: Cause the education is still horrible, the violence is still horrible. Well, the only positive changes are different community centers, You Rock, Oak Park. Different places where you can go.

Interviewer: Alright so more youth, just more things for youth to do, like stay off the streets.

Jenese Thomas: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Interviewer: More important. I see that. Next questions will be, what do you feel caused the changes in this area over the years and why do you feel this way?
Jenese Thomas: The violence caused most of the change. I feel this way cause it’s getting out of hand.

Interviewer: Yeah, Absolutely. I can see that. We are gathering information for the City of Minneapolis and they want to know how these policies, for example: housing, transportation, economic development and others, and employment discrimination, how these policies impacted you and your family personally.
Jenese Thomas: Like I said, I really never had a problem getting a job, I don’t have a felony. Nothing on my backgrounds.

Interviewer: No discrimination during employment?
Jenese Thomas: No.

Interviewer: Okay. That’s good.
Jenese Thomas: As far as education, I believe my kids are in good schools, but who to say when they get in high school it will be the same. Because suburb schools are learning more and graduating faster than our schools in the cities. As far as housing, I was homeless for seven months, but I really didn’t have a problem finding anything it was just finding something based on my income. Income is scarce.

Interviewer: Yeah. Absolutely.
Jenese Thomas: Section 8 for black families in North Minneapolis is not a go-to thing. You giving people section 8 vouchers but they’re not being able to find places because a lot people are not accepting section 8 now, or they’re accepting it and they raise the rent.

Interviewer: Right.
Jenese Thomas: It’s a lose, lose situation for a lot of other families in the North Side.

Interviewer: How do you feel about the war on drugs policy. Do you feel like that policy…
Jenese Thomas: The what?

Interviewer: The war on drugs.
Jenese Thomas: War on drugs?

Interviewer: Yes, that’s the policy that basically tries to, trying to think of the right words, it tries to compact on drugs and crack in the black communities and tries to make sure that ..
Interviewer: Targeting black people.
Interviewer: Yeah.

Jenese Thomas: For example the 100-1 ratio, crack to cocaine.

Jenese Thomas: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Interviewer: You know about that. That’s pretty much the war on drugs. Has that effected you or this community in any way that you can think of?
Jenese Thomas: I don’t think it changed. This neighborhood right here that we in now is horrible with drugs.

Interviewer: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jenese Thomas: I don’t think anything changed with that. There’s still a lot of crack heads, still a lot of whatever, drug dealers and people on drugs. It’s just different drugs coming out now.

Interviewer: Right, it seems like your saying that it effected the community a lot.
Jenese Thomas: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Interviewer: Yeah.
Interviewer: What changes have you seen in the community that raise your level of stress or concern about it’s future? And what do you think the City of Minneapolis can do to relieve that stress?
Jenese Thomas: The violence has raised my stress. I’m not sure what the community can do or what the city could do about the violence, cause I don’t think they ever was able to control it. They can’t control the people that are supposed to be in position to stop it, cause they doing it to. I don’t think anything happened.

Interviewer: How would you describe the relationship between the City of Minneapolis and the community?
Jenese Thomas: Horrible.

Interviewer: Horrible.
Jenese Thomas: Not good.

Interviewer: I do believe that I agree with you. What are your expectation for the city of Minneapolis? Relative to this community.
Jenese Thomas: My expectations are that they keep us safe, are we talking about as far as police, law enforcement?

Interviewer: Yeah.
Interviewer: All the higher powers, government officials, all of the above. What can our elected officials and people that are supposed to protect us and anybody that’s supposed to protect us, what can they do to help us? Or to help this community.
Jenese Thomas: Just try to keep us safe and not kill us.

Interviewer: That’s real.
Interviewer: It is.

Interviewer: To what extent do you trust the city of Minneapolis to deliver on those expectations?
Jenese Thomas: Say that question again.

Interviewer: How much do you trust them to actually follow through with that?

Jenese Thomas: I don’t.

Interviewer: I believe it.
Jenese Thomas: I don’t, there’s been too many of black men dying in the hands of them. Half the time it’s the things that are happening is not okay. These black men, most of them ain’t got guns on them, ain’t got no weapons on them and you shooting to kill. Like, no. You can shoot em, my thing is you can shoot them in the arm, shoot them in the leg, you can shoot them anywhere. You shooting to kill. You shooting in the head, you shooting in the chest where the heart is. You shooting to kill.

Interviewer: A lot of times, it’s multiple shots.
Interviewer: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jenese Thomas: Right.

Interviewer: Not just one or two.
Jenese Thomas: You had to shoot him twice you had to shoot him three or four times.

Interviewer: Had to shoot him 30 times.
Jenese Thomas: Right.

Interviewer: Doesn’t make sense.
Jenese Thomas: Yeah. I don’t trust them, I don’t think they can do anything, like get some new cops? New government officials. Definitely a new president.

Interviewer: A whole new policy.

Interviewer: Yeah. What part do you feel that you can play in creating a more hopeful future?
Jenese Thomas: Doing my job, staying at home. Going to work. Teaching my kids right from wrong. I also want to put out there, when I was going to school they had D.A.R.E. What happened to D.A.R.E?

Interviewer: Now that you say that I remember that.
Jenese Thomas: McGruff, McGrath from Chicago Illinois 60612. They had all them programs, they don’t have non of them in school no more. They took them out completely.

Interviewer: Seems like especially with D.A.R.E, I feel like that was definitely to letting people know, of course they know they’re not supposed to be doing these drugs, they’re not supposed to be doing these things but it just, it still just enforces it like keeps it fresh and lets you know like at school you know.

Jenese Thomas: If you’re teaching your kids this, they coming home like mom, you’re not supposed to be doing that. It helps.

Interviewer: It’s going to influence you to stop doing.

Jenese Thomas: Mom, I know that they said that you’re not supposed to do this, this is not what you’re supposed to do. So it’s like why did they take these programs out of school. I believe some of the reason why they took programs out of school, they really want to have us be the first teachers. We’re supposed to be teaching our kids good touch, bad touch, all this, all these different things.

Interviewer: That’s true, you’re supposed to be teaching your kid that but when they come to school, and they’re at school what, eight hours out of the day, by the time you get home your tired, you’re ready to go to bed, you feeding them and taking them and putting them to bed. You’re not gonna sit down to talk to them about things you know, you’re trying to take care of your household. It’s the teacher job to teach. To enforce things and to let them know, what is, what’s good and what’s bad as well. That’s going to be their second home, they’re in school for 12 years you know.
Jenese Thomas: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Interviewer: It’s levels to it, but I feel as if, you know.

Interviewer: That’s all the questions we have for you. We appreciate your time.
Interviewer: Thank you so much for answering our questions.

Jenese Thomas: Thank you.

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