Photo provided by John W. Fountain John Fountain, seen here speaking at the Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies at Northeastern Illinois University, will lead a community writing workshop series at the center beginning Sept. 26. Invisibility.

It has always been among my greatest fears. This intangible, yet undeniable, wall that at times has existed between the world and me. That disconnects certain people from the rest of humanity. That permits some of us to be deemed “expendable.”

The state of invisibility and voicelessness form the curse of the underclass. It lies at the root of the ability of the status quo to write “us” off, to carry on in their world with numbing indifference.

By words, I learned to be seen. Indeed I discovered that to be heard is essential to the process of shedding the cloak of invisibility.

And I discovered this truth: That our stories matter. That we must tell them ourselves.

Stories of life, loss, love and hope. Stories of the way we were. Our stories.

Those stories on the other side of the tracks — beyond the American mainstream media platter, the oversaturation and consumption of Trump news and alternative facts.

True stories lived out everyday in the heartland. In neighborhoods and small towns whose heartbeat too often is skipped by historians and even the first drafters of American history who record daily journalism.

Stories like those of little black and brown girls — and young women — born in humble places like the West Side. Those who have experienced the pain of invisibility and brokenness that can incarcerate the body and soul in a tormenting cell of silence.

Andrea Evans, 53, knows. Evans has recently finished her memoir, about “love, self-discovery and redemption,” though not yet published: “In Search of Girl Power”.

“I wrote it as a way to better understand the factors that caused me to remain silent as a young woman, particularly in my love relationships,” she told me. She writes about “how that silence caused me to ‘disappear’ myself, which put my academic gifts and future aspirations at risk.

“I wrote it so that young women would recognize that silence and the inability to speak up undermines their power,” said Evans, a Ph.D. and director of the Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies at Northeastern Illinois University.

Like me, Evans is West Side born and bred. She spent her early childhood in East Garfield Park, then in the Austin neighborhood before her family moved farther west to Maywood when she was about 8.I grew up in North Lawndale’s K-Town, just blocks from where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his family moved into an apartment in January 1966, to bring attention to the plight of poor blacks, to make us visible.I wrote my memoir “True Vine: A Young Black Man’s Journey of Faith, Hope & Clarity” in order to pen my own existence in my own words but also to capture and leave record of a time, place and people who were essential to my soul.A tapestry of […]

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