Powered by Blogger

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Father Boyle

I really enjoyed this interview on NPR today. Father Boyle, a Jesuit priest, started Homeboy Industries to create jobs for gang members and has employed about 10,000 people over about 20 years. In the interview, he said a lot of really moving things (like telling a story about two members of rival gangs that work for him and were texting a joke to him and each other and he said, "they used to exchange gunfire and now they exchange text messages").

I read the book excerpt on the website (his memoir, Tattoos on the Heart) and I would definitely like to read it. He's done something so positive in a place that people think is hopeless. The super sad part is that his business is failing and he's had to lay almost everyone off. Tragic.

This is one of my favorite stories:

. . . we had lots of enemies in those early days, folks who felt that assisting gang members somehow cosigned on their bad behavior. Hate mail, death threats, and bomb threats were common, especially after I wrote Op-Ed pieces in the Los Angeles Times.

We used to joke during this period of hostility that emanated from those who opposed the very idea of Homeboy that with so much vitriol leveled at us, we ought to change our voice mail message after hours: "Thank you for calling Homeboy Industries. Your bomb threat is important to us."

From my office once, I heard a homegirl answer the phone, and she says to the caller, "Go ahead and bring that bomb, mutha fucka. We're ready for your ass."

I ask her who's on the phone.

She covers the receiver, nonplussed, "Oh, just some fool who wants to blow the place up."

"Uh, kiddo, um," I tell her, "Maybe we should just say, 'Have a nice day and God bless you.'"



Post a Comment

<< Home