I had the opportunity to interview Dorchester Activist and the first Cape Verdean rapper. Formerly known as Justin he now goes by Abdul Adil after finding the Muslim faith. Abdul created CV World Enterprise in 1998. The problem that he saw with his community in terms of organizing was that they were never able to include youth. They could not Unite the youth with the families, the older culture. A lot of the organizing did not help kids here in the United States. So CV World Enterprise seeks to help kids out in schools and in the court system. They have fun with cookouts, soccer tournaments, and chess tournaments. But to me that was not the most impressive thing about this grassroots bottom up organization. CV World Enterprise is YOUTH run. Instead of some money coming from the government or a large company and like money non profits, that money being spent as quickly as possible so that new money can come in… it is the youth themselves that raise the money.
Abdul Adil (Justin Fernandes)
They work and learn to make videos and create media that shows their perspective. And those resources are then used for trips to Six Flags or a Celtics game. The program teaches kids how to raise money, the responsibility of working smart and also the benefits of making that money.
It’s not just the hard work and will to make something happen. As Abdul says, “They learn what it takes to make something happen. They learn about the language that you need and the dress code that you need to make something happen…. since I was a kid, I always watch and learn and look out for what works.”
Abdul Adil at CV World event
A lot of what Abdul was telling me really resonated. Although I am not necessarily one of those people who knows all the ins and outs of getting something to happen, I am amazed sometimes at my own community (that is Chinatown) about what some people don’t know. I commiserated with Abdul about this. And it’s not so much that people are lazy. The older generation definitely knows how to get things done, no doubt. But there are other ways, with social media and making videos that I do not even know that well. But the older generations have even more catching up to do. It’s not that they don’t want to do it, it’s that they don’t know how. That’s why it is so important not only to get youth involved, but to give them a leadership position. I know for a fact that there is a lot I could probably learn from a 9 year old who is just adequate on their smart phone (let alone a whiz.)
These are things that I have observed in my own community work, and tried to work on…but I am so inspired that Abdul just went out and did it. I definitely want to learn more from him and bring that sort of energy and skill set to Chinatown, JP, to whatever group I am working with.
You know I have noticed that the Cape Verdean Community is filled with a lot of young men and women that go out and do it. They have an idea and they grab it and they work together and start making things happen. Chinese are very good about this when it comes to business. But I would say in terms of community activism and organizing, that even when they try, it is different. The organizations are strong… and old. For instance let me pull out a group like On Leong. It was registered in 1890 in Boston… not 1990. So as an organization it has a strong history and a core group and a good amount of wealth. However, a lot of the Cape Verdean organizations might just be starting but they are all over Social Media and have connections here and there and are trying to put together basketball leagues and hip hop radio shows… the amount of youthful energy is amazing.
Most of my articles always say this but there is definitely a lot that the two groups (the Chinese and the Cape Verdeans) could learn from each other.