This story is about a man who is basically lethal with his hands. Any fight he got into on the street or in prison he would destroy the other person even though he seemed to be of a slight build. But there was something, if not heroic, in the narrative, at least sympathetic. From the way the story was told to me, he would always warn someone before the fight started, “Yo you don’t understand, you don’t want to fight with me, because my hands are lethal. If I start fighting you, I’m going to destroy you, I don’t care how big you are, so it’s better just not to mess with me.”

The origin of why he is like this is that he witnessed his father kill his mother right in front of him, stabbing her multiple times as a child or young adolescent. “Ever since I saw that I became the devil. I don’t need a knife or a gun in a fight, I’m telling you, anyone I fight, I’m going to destroy them no matter how big they are.”

The person telling me the story qualified this with, “Oh you know unless you are like” and he pointed out the fact that we were martial artists… but honestly I don’t think that is the same sort of deadly force as someone who gained their “power” or “curse” through psychological trauma. Basically I don’t even know this person, but I have seen some people who are crazy and I know that it can give you enormous strength. I also know others who went through a similar experience and hit very hard in a self defense class. I can totally believe that people would fight this person and under estimate him and end up being killed because of the violent and powerful response that occurred when he began to fight perhaps having a psychotic break.

Most of the senseless violence I heard about in the Cape Verdean community happened with guns and this person, while no saint, seemed more sympathetic because it seemed like at least now he tends to only fight to defend himself and always tries to avoid it. Culturally, there really isn’t anything particularly Cape Verdean about his story I guess. Except that he chose to call himself the devil. It is very Catholic and guilt laden . If you compare it to say “Iron Fist” on Netflix, where the white character seems to justify all the violence and destruction he causes and is even the hero of the show. It’s kind of entitled when you think of it. But this man, who went through horrible trauma, and really was in an environment where he was forced to fight, blames himself and considers himself so evil that he calls himself the devil.

And in this community, according to the many other stories the person told me, there are so many senseless shootings over nothing, or perhaps they are pre-emptive. And the truth is, as much as all these negative stories may circulate within the Cape Verdean community or among others in the neighborhood who are from another ethnic group… I will tell you that I never heard any of them really. I think to people outside the community they will simply use broad strokes and use very racist or politically incorrect categorization… but I don’t think they would single out that inner city violence as being specifically a Cape Verdean problem. However… right or wrong the sense I am getting from these stories is that it does seem to be rather specifically Cape Verdean, with cousin shooting cousin etc.

How to solve that problem?

I have know idea. Programs like Abdul Adil’s  CV World Enterprise do great work. And I’m sure there are other organizations too. Perhaps every group has similar stories and it may be important NOT to highlight it in the news (like I am doing right now… sorry) But then again if it is a problem perhaps it is something to investigate.

For me, as an outsider, a martial artist, and a writer of fiction that involves martial arts, I just see the potential, a lot of potential in a story about a protagonist that fights people in the modern era with his fists and almost seems to be trying to pay a penance. Much like the legend of Kung Fu’s Cain… But I also find it interesting that this person, who seems to only fight (in recent time) when he is being attacked, immediately views himself as evil.  Perhaps that is a good representation of the Cape Verdean community in general. A lot of people I talked to see the negative in recent times. But that is not necessarily how Cape Verdeans are being perceived by outsiders.

Rhode Island Cape Verdean Festival 2016

A lot of non Cape Verdeans feel that the community seems to emanate am aura of positive energy and potential.