• J. Jamal

Unity Heights vol. 1


Welcome to Unity Heights. We’re a small subdivision of downtown Los Angeles, and uhh...a side of town that you don’t hear from or about much. Well, the name came from this intersection right here. We’re standing at the point where Union Street meets Unity Hills. Yea, the make up and ideologies of these 2 respective areas are as different as the Apple Store and the liquor store on these opposing corners. I can’t think of the last time I’ve been in there. The Apple Store and Unity Hills. See, aside from this intersection, these two sides really don’t mix. There’s nothing for us up there. There’s nothing for them down here. I’m not really one to mingle anyway. I’ve got baseball, football, and gym time in between. Not much time for anything else. Going into junior year in a couple of months, this is the most important year of my life. Dad’s spent years preparing me for this, scouts were already coming to our games last year, and this time around, they’re coming for me. I’ve got 2 years to put on a show, and I plan to love every minute of it.

They call me the Prince, but you already know that. The Heights ain’t as bad as they told you, man. Everybody knows everybody down here. You’ve just gotta know who to avoid. They want you to think it’s some kind of war zone down here, with machine guns popping off 24 hours a day, it’s nothing like that. I will say these guys do what they have to to defend their turf. It’s an...alternative lifestyle compared to what you’re used to, and it’s easy to get swallowed up by it if you’re not careful. Once you’re in it, they don’t kindly let you back out. I lost my best friend to the streets. We haven’t been the same since he took his first ride. Look, it’s safe as long as you keep it that way. If you go looking for trouble, we’ve got plenty for you, believe that. Other than that, the gym is a good escape, it’s in a neutral area. They understand some of us wanna get outta here some day, and sports seems to be the only way. These “thugs” you hear about? They live by a code. They don’t bother anybody staying in their lane. Women, elders, children, off limits. Neutral zones are respected, boundaries are respected. And they don’t cut down anybody out there trying to better themselves.

The community center was built on a donation from one of the leaders on the block. Actually, that’s him driving by right now. Nah, it’s nothing to worry about, let’s just walk between the cars over here.

Anyway, it’s pretty quiet out here. Most of us just spend time at home with family, or on their blocks. I heard there’s a lake up in the Hills, everybody goes fishing every weekend, beer and football on the shore? That’s pretty cool, our football field is always occupied. We come together pretty often down here, too. Yea, we...we get together, sing songs, light candles, write letters, talk, and just...enjoy our time together, you know? Holidays we get together, have a big cookout at the football field and everybody comes out to show love. That’s what Union Street is all about: showing love, to our street and to ourselves. I’m gonna miss this place when I go off to college. It’s all I’ve ever known. But it’ll be fun getting to be something different. The U will always be the best part of me, but I’m definitely excited to see what happens nex-

Shh.

Never mind, it’s just a warning shot. How do I know? Because there was only one of em.

Welcome to Unity Heights.

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