Interview conducted by Elena Vaughn
On the back of Bruce “Uncle Bubba” Axelrod’s shirt reads a Cesar Chavez quote: “The people who give you their food give you their heart.” A self-described “Buddhist Jew-boy who loves Jesus” from the Bronx, Bruce has been a resident of Trinity Apartments (2800 East 31st St.) for five years, but has loved Holy Trinity Lutheran Church for thirty. On June 3, Bruce gave the Messenger an inside look at life in the immediate aftermath.
What has your experience been during this time?
“I love our community, the diversity and people and struggle, We’ve been at ground Zero with the fires, and we support the Black Lives Matter (BLM), a lot of us, and we believe that there’s been perpetrators from the outside setting the fires. We don’t believe BLM would destroy the community. We love all the energy and people coming in and helping us. It’s been very healing.”
What have been some of the harder parts of this experience?
“It’s been traumatic being here, we’re still afraid at night. We’ve been afraid every night for our building burning, but we’re here to stay. We’re about struggle and peace and justice and making the world a better place for everybody, no matter who you are.”
Where are most of the volunteers from, to your knowledge?
“A lot of people getting the food and things are in the general vicinity of the Southside. Some might be a few blocks away, but they[‘re] coming from all over, maybe a half-mile, mile. I think everyone is in the general vicinity, and if they’re not, it don’t matter. All the food that got looted and ruined from the stores. In my heart, I believe this is God returning the food to us. The source of our blessings is God, whatever you wanna call God. There’s an abundance for everyone and love always rules over evil. Whatever your spirituality is, it don’t matter, as long as you act right, respect your elders and the children and the mas..and the people and our property. We love you, that’s what we’re about here.”
How does your personal experience affect your view of the recent uprisings?
“I’ve been in the streets against the United States Government...since I’ve been 17 years old. I wanna see systemic change. I wanna see the racism treated in this country. I ain’t against the police, I ain’t against no one, but when you’re hurting people and killing people, that’s no good. I wanna see our tax dollars used for something besides making war. I wanna see it being used for education, for roads, for better lives, for affordable housing. We work so hard and we ain’t got time for our children or ourselves cuz we’re so busy, and it shouldn’t be that hard to make do…. It’s gonna stop, it’s done.”
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