There is a meta narrative that as neighborhoods gentrify, they become safer. The neighborhoods become better, cleaner, more community centered. In many ways this seems to be true. But Amber Torres’ “Dudley Street Diaspora” a poem and video of the same name, describes her neighborhood of Roxbury.

“A lot of times you hear about black on black violence. But there is definitely CV on CV violence.” says Amber Torres, “A few decades ago we (the Cape Verdeans of inner city Boston) moved to this country and knew each other.” She says that the connection is not the same any more. The ethos and values have changed so that the circumstance now is worse than it was before in the 70’s and 80’s. Before there was more of a sense of Community and Family. But now people simply see themselves as individuals. So that many times the gang violence happens between cousins who do not even know that they are cousins and perhaps do not care.

Dudley Square

On the Boston Chinatown Blog I often interview people who praise gentrification. In fact the term is used instead of revitalization.

Amber admits that it is exciting for many young people that the neighborhoods are getting cleaner and in many ways are safer, but that gun violence is still up. Amber has studied and researched much about this subject, and I will delve more into that in a later piece.

But Amber has great hopes for her community and sees that she can make a difference through her poetry, art, and activism.

She started writing poems in high school and has performed her piece at many open mics and spoken word events on her college campus. Having graduated from Hamilton College, she aimed to reach a larger audience and have more impact. Working with Soho Uptown Photography, the video, that is going viral on social media, was born. Please watch the video below. It is extremely moving.

In the next piece we will talk about some of the other ways in which Amber has brought art to the community and out of the community to shed light on issues and amplify voices that tend to go unheard. Hopefully we will be hearing much more from this energetic and motivated young leader in the community.