Finding a common, neighborly ground

Akesha Franks lives on 17th and Berks streets, but she’s not a Temple student. Then again, Franks said she’s not all that different from the students that pass by her block every day.

Akesha Franks lives on 17th and Berks streets, but she’s not a Temple student. Then again, Franks said she’s not all that different from the students that pass by her block every day.

“See?” Franks said, holding up her cell phone. “Pink is my ring tone. I’m sure some Temple students like her, too!”

CommVoice
ASHLEY NGUYEN TTN Hoping to spark a conversation, Akesha Franks and Tauliba Fulton people-watch on a friend’s porch on a Thursday afternoon on 16th Street and Montgomery Avenue.

“Temple students are nice, but it comes down to the racial divide,” Franks said. “[Students] think we’re ghetto or something,” she added, gesturing toward her outfit. “Just because we’re not in school doesn’t mean [students] can ignore us. I’m 25. We’re all young. We should all just be one.”

Even if students acknowledge her, Franks said they should attempt to engage in a conversation with their neighbors.

“If someone is walking, and I compliment their dress, they might smile and say, ‘Thank you,’ but they don’t try to converse,” she said, offering a piece of advice. “Maybe you might want to tell me where you got it from, but they don’t because they think I’m nasty or something.”

Sitting next to Franks, Tauliba Fulton, who is also 25, said “there’s no more friendliness anymore” and encouraged students to mingle with their neighbors by having cookouts at the same time to help them understand that while North Philly is a dangerous place, not everyone in the area is.

“Disrespect [between neighbors] comes with not knowing,” Fulton said, “not having enough knowledge about the people, the area. [Students] just live there and see one bad thing happen to a person, and that’s all it takes.”

Proof exists on Franks’ grandmother’s block, where “little bad things have happened,” so the students living next door don’t hang out on their porch anymore. On Franks’ own block, where students’ cars have been broken into, one young criminal gives “other kids a bad image.”

“Do [criminals] think college students have money?” Franks said, her eyes widening. “They’ve only got a little change in their pocket. Criminals make the whole neighborhood look bad, and we’re not all like that.”

Ashley Nguyen can be reached at ashley.nguyen@temple. edu.

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