The Come Up: Tree
On growing up in Cabrini Green housing projects:
Tree: “Cabrini Green is a project development. It’s a project neighborhood that stretches two miles in either direction. In total: 40 19-story buildings. The Wild End part of the neighborhood, that was was I grew up in. That was the nickname, the part, the section of the project I was in. There were different names for every section. It was a notorious section of the city. It was considered the Wild End. A lot of murders. A lot of all that shit going on.
It’s a regular crime-filled neighborhood like any other poverty-stricken neighborhood in the world. Not even in America, but in the world. There wasn’t anything different that ain’t going on in New York or Compton. Living there, I didn’t know it was bad. You don’t know the fear that people have from going into different projects until you are presented with the opportunity in your situation where you are in a different project. You get that eerie feeling, ‘this might not be safe.’ You walk into this building, you might not come out. So coming up, it wasn’t bad to me. All my friends were there. All my family was there. Just the outside people looking in, you just see this project with all these notorious thugs doing what they do. If you were born in the neighborhood, you are just one of them. You are considered family. You are considered a neighbor.
Cabrini Green was fun to me. There was always something to do. There were always a thousand kids and basketball courts. We didn’t know we were broke. You don’t know you are broke until you need money. Until you realize that you can’t afford a car. That you can’t move out. That you can’t afford rent in a regular house. Cabrini Green to me was family. It was love. Everybody was on the same level. Everybody there was broke. It was one for all, all for one in most cases.”