One of the best parts of my life is the people who i am close with who are doing all favors of incredible work. Bonnie Rovics is a musician, a massage therapist, a youth organizer and an interracial activist. Two weeks ago a young latino was gunned down two blocks from where she lives. She got involved with the local community which was trying to grieve the loss of one of their own. There are of course two agenda’s at play here. There is the local community of color which is at the edge of tearing itself apart over the gang violence which just took another innocent. There is also the local community of privilege which is terribly concerned about this type of thing repeating itself and them being at threat because of it.
So at the memorial for Tito, a local man showed up who was concerned with the gang violence and how it was terrorising the community, he spoke about it until Bonnie cut him off. She told him that there would be time for his feelings and that what he was saying was vitally important, but that now was not the time. He was embarrassed and apologized. And when more locals who did not know Tito showed up, the local leaders went to Bonnie and said “Please tell them, like you did this other man, that now is not the time for their concerns.” When the local culture asks, you deliver.
Similarly, the media showed up. Again Bonnie was dispatched. “We dont have a media person now, but i will take your cards and when we have something i will make sure you get it.” The reporters were respectful and dispersed, except the one from El Mundo the local Boston Latino paper. He was wearing a hat from his paper. “Not only do i cover this beat, but i was Tito’s baseball coach for three years” He said. “Well then of course you are welcome, as the person not the press, just take off your hat.” replied Bonnie.
She is working the problem of the racial divide in Jamaica Plain where she lives. Working with her friend from the tiny local Y, they devised a plan to employ local youth of color shoveling snow in place of the huge machines. The local affluent population is seeking a way to help the situation and one of the things they can do is help sign up their neighbors to employ local youths to shovel snow. It is a small brilliant step towards knowing each other.
When i write about someone in this blog, i usually give them the chance to edit errors in fact. Bonnie reported that i exaggerated the size of the mechanized snow removal equipment, but that otherwise i was close enuf. She also reported that two more kids had been shot within a couple of blocks of her home since i wrote this story. She is back out doing her thing and we are al luckier for it.