Interview of Marcia Johnson

Interviewer: 00:21 Yeah, just to see if you’ve lived in that area.

Marcia Johnson: 00:26 That’s why I was trying to find it, 9199 Broadway. Where’s that at?

Marcia Johnson: 00:51 Right here, this district 55411 over here.

Interviewer: 00:55 How long have you lived in this area?
Marcia Johnson: 00:59 Off and on it’s a been a steady 3 years, but I’ve come up here at least 15 to 20 years. Yeah because I’m originally from Wilmington, Delaware. Yeah, my area code’s 55411.

Interviewer: 01:23 Back to the second question. You said about 15 years, right?
Marcia Johnson: 01:29 Yeah, but I’ve been steady where it counts where I get a paycheck and all that stuff now, past 5/6 years, but back and forth. You know, when you stay at someone’s house more than 5 to 30 days you become a resident, cause you got mail coming there so that’s been over 10/15 years.

Interviewer: 01:49 Before we dig too deep, can we just have you state your first and last name, and spell it for us.
Marcia Johnson: 01:53 My first name’s Marcia. My maiden last name is Harden, cause I got married up here of course. I’m doing a lot better. I got married 2013, which is now I use my married name Johnson.

Interviewer: 02:16 Congratulations on the marriage.
Marcia Johnson: 02:17 Thank you. I married my childhood sweetheart. My first and my last. We’ve been together since we was kids.

Interviewer: 02:27 Thinking back to when you first moved in this area to date, what changes have you seen?

Marcia Johnson: 02:31 Oh my gosh. It’s been a lot of changes. I’m not ashamed to say when I first moved here I used to get high. I used to smoke, I used to sniff dope. I used to smoke crack. Crack really never been a twist of mine, but I can remember, going down on Lake street and place. They would set up in Wendy’s restaurant and actually smoke the pipe, while people ordering. Now it used to be Sears over there in the parking lot, like the living dead. People walking around, and I just remember a whole lot of stuff. A lot of stuff is cloudy from being high all the time.

Marcia Johnson: 03:12 A lot changes been made, and then the changes really was made when I changed myself. See that’s the thing, when people as a individual change they self, then that’s when the changes are being made in your neighborhood. Because you don’t see nothing change until you change yourself, the individual self, you have to change. You can live in the same household for 30-50 years and see a person keep sticking stuff in they pocket and you know they’re a thief, where if he stops sticking it in his pocket, then he’s no longer a thief no more. You understand, you have to change. I started seeing changes, I’m gonna say, past, let me see when I stopped, about 8-9 years ago, since I stopped using. I no longer seen people getting high, walking the streets and stuff, because I wasn’t a part of that life anymore, but every now and then you still see, you know the look, you ain’t stupid. I still see some, I can identify some of the ones still out there and to me this is the, where I’m from you have a better chance of making it up here and doing something with your life. This is a very good state.

Interviewer: 04:37 I know you mentioned changes in what you saw on Lake street and Wendy’s. What about over here? What’s your experience with those types of what you’ve seen?
Marcia Johnson: 04:49 This is really crazy. I can remember when I first got up here my husband which I married was my childhood sweetheart. We’re from the same state. He came up here because his job brought him up here, and I was always in denial, “No I’m not using or doing it.” I came up here, I was always back and forth because the drugs wouldn’t let me sit still. When I finally decided to sit still, when I started backing away from it, I wanted to get out late one night. We had stayed over in northeast at the time. I don’t know nothing about Minnesota, but for some reason I knew that I could come on Broadway over here and buy drugs. That’s crazy, from hearing people talking, being on the bus, watching people. I’m a watcher. I kept it in my middle mind there and next thing you know, I didn’t know nobody but I found myself going by McDonald’s over here and bought what I wanted.

Interviewer: 05:54 McDonald’s where?
Marcia Johnson: 05:55 On Broadway.

Interviewer: 05:55 On Broadway?
Marcia Johnson: 05:56 Yeah, right there where they got Little Caesar’s pizza and stuff. Yeah, buy whatever you want. I was just shocked that it was so easy. But it’s changing now because they’re not hanging out. Let’s say it’s change in the past couple years. You get more customers outside of McDonald’s than you have inside of McDonald’s. You did! And it was sad because most of it was workers, people that go to work in the morning. State workers, you’d think they were going in to buy a coffee and stuff, but those were the ones that were using and selling, believe it or not. You could pick out the ones that didn’t fit being in there because either they was too young or way way too old. You’d say okay they’re doing drug or they’re selling drugs. Broadway has changed a lot. We would go for rides and stuff, you would see the girls walking up and down the street at night, and even for me, we would take the co-workers and drop them off and you’d be hollering up and down like, “Oh my god!” So it changed a lot.

Interviewer: 07:11 Next question. What do you feel caused the changes over the years?
Marcia Johnson: 07:14 Say that again?

Interviewer: 07:15 What do you feel caused the changes over the years?
Marcia Johnson: 07:20 From good to bad? What do I think caused the changes? It’s the individual that causes the changes. If you’re tired, if you get enough people that’s tired, when they wake up from whatever it is they’re doing, and they’re tired, then that’s when your changes are being made. Because you know right from wrong, it’s just sometimes it’s harder when you still have other people in that same group still pulling, it’s like pulling teeth. If you not ready to stop doing your shenanigans, or whatever it is that’s keeping you from being part of society, it’s going to be hard to have a change in your neighborhood. That’s for anything. It’s like hitting a brick wall.
Marcia Johnson: 08:14 Cause you’re gonna have people rebuild, or all kinds of stuff, where if you get enough, that’s why they’ll say they got this thing where they say white people can live together and do better than black people in their neighborhoods or whatever, it’s because they all know how to cut out the shenanigans and want the same thing in their neighborhood. You got a handful of people over here who want to be able to go outside and have their children play in the park and have a nice time. Then you got this side over here, they want their children play in the park have a nice time, but they still want to get high and hang out in the street, but you all know if you’re getting high what bring that problem, the prostitution and the drugs and everything else. You can’t mix that with children too, so that’s what bring the problem. But then when you get tired and you step over here and you get enough to come over here, then you got less and less of that will start spreading out, and then you start seeing changes in your neighborhood, because half those people that you see standing around I guess ain’t there. That’s how I see it.

Interviewer: 09:23 What changes have you seen in this community that raise your level of stress, or concerns about the future?
Marcia Johnson: 09:30 They getting younger. I know you can’t help from the way you was raised cause that was not your choice, but at a certain age you’re able to make a decision for yourself to know right from wrong and they’re getting younger with the violence and not finishing school. Everybody knows a good education is the only thing you have going for yourself. That’s the only job you have as a young adult anyway, is your education. It’s to maintain that to have anything in life. So it’s just getting worse, they’re getting younger.

Interviewer: 10:22 We’re gathering these stories to increase understanding between the city of Minneapolis and the community on the impact of discriminatory government policies and practices i the area like housing, economic development, and more. Examples include housing, and employment discrimination in the early 20th century. The War on Drugs in the 1990’s and others. What impact have these policies or others had on the community in general?
Marcia Johnson: 10:49 As far as low income housing and people living in them? Sometimes it’s the worst because most people they have a… it’s like being cliché, they think, my grandma used to say, “Just because you live in the projects don’t mean you have to act like you do.” I don’t know.

Interviewer: 11:11 Have you seen any type of discrimination in housings or economics that have impacted your life or your family’s life?
Marcia Johnson: 11:21 I think there is a lot of that here. But it’s not the people that funding or the foundation of it, it’s the people in among themself that’s doing it. It’s like okay, if you’re not Somalian you can’t live here. But it’s not the government that’s doing it, it’s the people themselves, you know what I’m saying? We’re separating ourself, you know what I mean? That’s the only way I can put it.

Interviewer: 11:55 What hopes do you have for the future of this community?
Marcia Johnson: 11:59 That it gets better. That young people have to realize that if you go to school, you get a better education, what’s on TV is called entertainment, you don’t make it part of your life. I don’t know. I just would rather for young people to just grow up and respect theirself. If they respect theyself, I’m quite sure that everything else would be respected around them, if they know how to respect theyself.

Interviewer: 12:39 What part does the city of Minneapolis needs to play in creating a more hopeful future?

Marcia Johnson: 12:44 I’m sorry?

Interviewer: 12:44 What part does the city of Minneapolis can play in to make the community better?
Marcia Johnson: 12:50 Better? I don’t know. What part can play in to make the community better? Actually, any part that terrible I guess. To me, none of it’s terrible, I mean really I don’t see none of it’s terrible. It’s just the people, the individual that’s there, you know.

Interviewer: 13:11 When you think about this area today, what impact do you still see from these historic government policies?
Marcia Johnson: 13:22 What do I think about the area now, today? I don’t know, sometimes it has it’s good days and it has it’s bad days. So it’s like I don’t know.

Interviewer: 13:37 How would you describe the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and the community over the years?
Marcia Johnson: 13:42 I think some people are being more heard now, from what I’ve
experienced being up here. My people being heard, being taken more serious now.

Interviewer: 14:07 What are your expectations of the city of Minneapolis related to this community?
Marcia Johnson: 14:15 I don’t know. Well actually, what they need to have more, well see that’s a hard thing to say because what people are asking for is actually here, like things for people to do, it’s just that people need to get up and go analyze the things here that’s offered here. “You gotta have more parks, you gotta have more programs,” all that stuff is actually here. Can’t lead a horse to water unless it’s thirsty.

Interviewer: 14:54 To what extent do you trust the city of Minneapolis to deliver those expectations?
Marcia Johnson: 14:56 Say that again? I’m sorry, can you rephrase that? I didn’t understand.

Interviewer: 14:57 How much do you trust the city of Minneapolis to live up to your expectations?

Marcia Johnson: 14:58 It’s alright with me. I feel like I did what I supposed to do with myself.

Interviewer: 15:04 So how much do you trust them?
Marcia Johnson: 15:06 The state of Minnesota?

Interviewer: 15:07 The city of Minneapolis.
Marcia Johnson: 15:27 It’s okay. If it was up to me, everything that’s offered here is up to me, so it’s alright with me. I just hope that anyone that was a user or just down on their luck or whatever or just analyze the things that’s here cause it’s here and you just gotta use it.

Interviewer: 15:53 Take advantage.
Marcia Johnson: 15:53 Yeah, take advantage and just go ahead and do what you’re supposed to do for yourself.

Interviewer: 15:58 So what part do you feel you can play in creating that more hopeful future?
Marcia Johnson: 16:04 Well, just as ordinary as they are. I hung out in streets like they did, I been through a lot of abusive situations growing up, and I’m no different from the next person but I utilize the things that are here offered to you.

Interviewer: 16:25 So you feel like you don’t have nothing special you can give out to the community to make it better? Like if you could have a chance to have a upper power in the community. What would you do?
Marcia Johnson: 16:42 I don’t know. Because what constantly just tell a person… I don’t know what could I do. Because basically I don’t know. Just let a person know, I’m just as ordinary as they are, just let em know that they can make it. Making it ain’t mean like you rich and famous and all of this, but you can be content, you know, ordinary content. Live within your means.

Interviewer: 17:25 Well that is the end of the interview. Thank you for your time, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your day.
Marcia Johnson: 17:25 Okay.

Interviewer: 17:25 Thank you so much.
Marcia Johnson: 17:25 Alright. I feel weird.

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