Humans of Minneapolis: Damontay, Webber Natural Swimming Pool

July 22, 2016 by Chee Xiong

In 2016, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation teamed up with Humans of Minneapolis street documentarian Stephanie Glaros to produce a series of 15 portraits of visitors to Minneapolis neighborhood parks.

Here, we’re re-posting Stephanie’s series of portraits of parks visitors from her Humans of Minneapolis blog. Look for all portraits in the series on this blog – 2016 and, coming soon, 2017 – by clicking on the Humans of Minneapolis category.

Damontay with baby cousin Rain, at Webber Natural Swimming Pool

“My whole family comes to this park four or five times a month. We’ve got a lot of kids at home during the summer, so we all come here. My mom and my uncle are over there barbecuing and everybody else is over here at the pool. We still have more coming. We’ll have maybe forty-five people here. We had to get them out of the house. If everybody came to my mama’s house or my auntie’s house, everybody all in one spot, we’d be all stuffed up. So we come to the park and everybody can get out and enjoy themselves. The parents can relax and just have a good time.

I love to swim. I’m an artist, and if I can’t listen to music or write music, I’ll swim to clear my head and take a breather. Over the past three weeks I’ve been here seventeen times using the lap pool. Some of my cousins can’t swim, so I teach them. It’s kind of hard when everybody wants to learn at once, but they’re getting there. I taught them all how to doggie paddle and so far that’s what keeping them safe.

I’ve been singing in church since I was seven and I’ve been writing poetry since I was fourteen. I started rapping when I turned sixteen because my uncle passed away and it was the only way I knew how to express myself. He was killed in a car accident. That was my father figure. So I wrote a poem and then my friend started singing it. It was perfect, so she wrote a chorus and we recorded a track and it was just something I was feeling at the moment. So that’s what led me to sticking with rap.

Music has always been my best friend. Old school R&B, gospel, it’s always helped me if I’m feeling upset or mad. It’s like food for my soul. Artists have been there for me, so I want to be that person other people can look up to. I want somebody to be like, ‘Your song got me through this situation.’ I just want to have that impact on somebody else ‘cause I like helping people.”

Listen to Damontay’s story:

Images and content are reposted with permission from Stephanie Glaros/Humans of Minneapolis.

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