ONE YEAR LATER: Family Organizes Boston Memorial for Slain Young Belizean Garifuna American Woman, DAWNN JAFFIER On FRIDAY August 21st 2015 and SATURDAY August 22nd 2015 In Boston

 

At times, Life can be so damn unfair.  That’s what I keep thinking to myself as I read about the case of Dawnn Jaffier, a young woman of promise and potential whose entire life was ahead of her.  Despite her youth, Dawnn was already an accomplished woman with considerable gifts.

Dawnn’s life was cut short when she was slain when she was shot while caught up in the crossfire of a street dispute between groups of young Black men in Boston; inadvertently becoming collateral damage in the wars between young blacks in cities across the United States.  As someone who has relatives and friends who lost their lives to senseless gun violence, this story resonates within me.

Her family is currently organizing a Memorial in Boston commemorating one year since her tragic demise, and they are intent on producing a dignified yet celebratory tribute of a life devoted to public service as well as helping, guiding and mentoring at-risk youth in Boston.

Copyright 2015 by Teofilo Colon Jr.  (a.k.a. “Tio Teo”).  All Rights Reserved.  Telephone: (646) 961-3674.

Belizean Garifuna American Mentor, Coach, Volunteer Dawnn Jaffier of Boston.  Photo courtesy of CityYearBoston.org

Belizean Garifuna American Mentor, Coach, Volunteer Dawnn Jaffier of Boston. Photo courtesy of CityYearBoston.org

Dawnn Jaffier, 26 years of age,  was a Group Leader, Mentor, Coach, Program Assistant and Volunteer known for working with youths in Boston.  An active community member, Dawnn worked with local Elementary Schools, local Boys and Girls Clubs, as well as national service organization City Year and the Playworks organization.

Dawnn Jaffier was killed on Saturday morning, August 23rd 2014 when according to news reports, she and a group of friends passed through a group of young men in front of a convenience store during the daylong J’ouvert Caribbean Celebration / Parade in Boston.

Belizean Garifuna American Mentor, Coach, Volunteer Dawnn Jaffier of Boston wearing Carnival-esque outfits.

Belizean Garifuna American Mentor, Coach, Volunteer Dawnn Jaffier of Boston wearing Carnival-esque outfits.  Collage Photo courtesy of GoFundMe.com

A dispute between two groups of men quickly turned tragic when 18 year old Keith Williams allegedly fired a gun at 22 year old Wesson Colas in response to Mr. Colas allegedly aiming a gun at Mr. Keith Williams and his friends.  Dawnn Jaffier was an innocent bystander and was caught in between the two groups of young men.   She died after being taken to the hospital after the shooting.   Both men were eventually charged with First Degree Murder and faced a charge of Armed Assault with intent to Murder.  1

Below is an early news account on the shooting.

Here’s a Boston news account of a Vigil which took place after the shooting.

 


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In an interview, after pondering, “How does this happen to a totally innocent and  amazing person?” founding board member and Sr. Vice-President of City Year Boston; Charlie Rose talked about Dawnn Jaffier having her priorities straight.  Her talent and drive enabled her to do whatever she wanted.  However, she chose to give back to her community, earning admiration from all over–including from a Garifuna American man named Teofilo who is based in New York City and who hadn’t heard of her until about two weeks ago.  Mr. Rose explained,

Dawn could have done whatever she wanted.  She was incredibly talented and incredibly smart.  But she had a passion for community, she had a passion for bringing people together, she knew she had a gift with young people.  She was tough, but she showed love, so what’s going on?  She was following her passion…I’m not supposed to have favorites, but she was my all-time favorite.  ”  — Charlie Rose

Here is video of that interview with Mr. Charlie Rose.  Take note of Dawnn’s qualities as described by Mr. Rose.  She obviously made an impression on many people.  Particularly with her gift of connecting with youths through Dance.

A GoFundMe page was created to help Dawnn Jaffier’s family cover funeral costs.  According to the website, $26,460 was raised, besting their goal of $20,000.  The amount of money raised attests to Dawnn’s impact in her Boston community.  Isn’t that something?

Two weeks ago (early August 2015), a family representative reached out to me to inquire about talking to a specific Boston-based Garifuna musical artist to perform at the memorial for Dawnn Jaffier.  I forwarded the contact information of the Boston-based Garifuna musical artist to the family representative and I hope something was worked out.  It was during our initial correspondence where I learned about Dawnn Jaffier’s life and read all about her life being a fount of inspiration.

Belizean Garifuna American Mentor, Coach, Volunteer Dawnn Jaffier of Boston.  Photo courtesy of GoFundme.com

Belizean Garifuna American Mentor, Coach, Volunteer Dawnn Jaffier of Boston. Photo courtesy of GoFundme.com

I was told by the family that Dawnn Jaffier is Garifuna.  Her mother, Althea Lewis Colon, is a Garifuna woman from Dangriga, Belize and her maternal grandparents are from Tela, Honduras.  I did not see Dawnn’s Garifuna ethnicity relayed in news accounts of this tragedy.  According to news reports, Dawnn’s father, Ian Jaffier is a Black man from London.  I was not able to determine if Dawnn’s father is Caribbean black or African black, etc.  NOTE: I have since learned that Mr. Jaffier’s parents are from Grenada and Trinidad.

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE.  Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.

In email correspondence with The Jaffier family, they relayed to me that,

“As a child of Garifuna ancestry, Dawnn was exemplary in her pursuit to make her family, friends and community better and proud.” – Jaffier Family

Judging by what I have read of Dawnn’s life, she accomplished those goals in life and aimed to continue.   To that end, the Jaffier family is committed to focusing on how Dawnn lived as opposed to the horrible circumstances of her passing.

Here is a video by City Year Boston featuring Dawnn Jaffier.  In it, she explains why she serves.

 

While the above video is short, it helps to be able to hear Dawnn’s voice and to see her face.  I wish there was more.  I am not aware of any other videos where we get to hear from Dawnn herself.

Belizean Garifuna American Mentor, Coach, Volunteer Dawnn Jaffier of Boston.

Belizean Garifuna American Mentor, Coach, Volunteer Dawnn Jaffier of Boston.

The Service and Memorial will serve as a Tribute and Celebration of a Life Worth Living.  Activities are being planned that will showcase some of what Dawnn loved doing, Singing and Dancing.

The Memorial for Dawnn Jaffier will consist of two services.   While both are open to the public, they are semi-private.  There is to be NO reporting / videography by the press and media within the event.

SERVICE FOR THE COMMUNITY

(Facebook Event Link)

FRIDAY, August 21st 2015  — 5pm to 9pm

West End House for Boys and Girls

105 Allston Street

Allston, MA 02134

https://www.facebook.com/events/1469867563333436/

MEMORIAL SERVICE

SATURDAY, August 22nd 2015 — 11am to 12:30pm

Family Life Fellowship Church

28 Arlington Street

Hyde Park, MA 02136

Reception Afterwards at The Boys and Girls Club of Boston  (Food and Beverages will be served).

It’s been a challenge typing this particular posting.  Death has been heavy on my mind as of late, especially with the passing of my mother Raymunda Colon, and as I read about Dawnn Jaffier, thinking about death, mortality, legacy, etc weighed heavily on my heart as I typed this posting about Dawnn Jaffier’s Memorial through a steady stream of tears tumbling down my cheeks.

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE.  Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.

I did not have the pleasure and privilege of knowing Dawnn Jaffier, although I wish I somehow had gotten a chance to meet her either personally or via the internet.  Dawnn Jaffier led a life that impacted lives and mattered.  When contemplating the life of that young woman, that impression that Dawnn made as well as her significant achievements will be her lasting legacy.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Below is a Video Tribute to Dawnn Jaffier as produced and presented by the West End House for Boys and Girls, where Dawnn Jaffier volunteered.

 

Finally, in an example of how Dawnn Jaffier’s legacy will live on; here is video of a ceremony for the newly created Light of Dawnn Awards.  This ceremony honors Youth Leaders like Dawnn who are making a difference in the city of Boston.   As in the other videos, this video offers viewers a glimpse of Dawnn Jaffier.

ABOUT The Garifuna People

The Garifuna people are people of African descent (in other words, Black people) whose ancestry can be traced to Africans mixing with Carib Indians and Arawak Indians on the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent.  From this fusion of race and ethnicities in St. Vincent Island, a distinct culture and language arose.  They are noted for being one of the few (only?) peoples of African descent (again, in other words, Black people) in the Americas to have maintained aspects of their ancestral culture and full use of their ancestral language for everyday use over the course of hundreds of years.

After being defeated in war with the British on St. Vincent in 1796; 1004 men,  1779 women and 1,555 children for a total of 4,338 people (mostly Black Caribs, as the Garifuna people were then known) were captured and taken to Baliceaux, a small island, a rock, basically, off the coast of St. Vincent.  This took place from July 1796 through February/March 1797.  About 2,000 Garifunas died of a mysterious and very infectious fever while living on Baliceaux awaiting their fate.   1

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE.  Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.

In early March 1797, the remaining Garifunas were loaded onto the HMS Experiment and other ships.  Once they were rounded up, the convoy were taken to a Bequia, which is another island off the coast of St. Vincent. They proceeded to go to Grenada to get water, then Jamaica for refueling, then finally Roatan, Honduras, arriving on April 12th 1797.

Finding much of Roatan unliveable, the Garifuna people petitioned officials representing Spain and it’s government (which controlled much of Central America at the time) to be allowed to move to the Honduran mainland.  Upon being allowed to move to the Honduran mainland, namely the port town of Trujillo, Honduras in May 1797; the Garifunas settled many towns and villages along the Caribbean coast of Honduras.  They also migrated to the neighboring countries of Guatemala, Belize (then known as British Honduras) and Nicaragua over the years.  Finally, Garifuna People have also migrated to the United States of America where generations have settled in cities like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.  Despite their mainly Spanish surnames, their culture and history are distinct from other Afro-American and Latino ethnic groups and it’s important to keep that in mind.

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE.  Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.

Belizean Garifuna American Mentor, Coach, Volunteer Dawnn Jaffier of Boston.

Belizean Garifuna American Mentor, Coach, Volunteer Dawnn Jaffier of Boston.

Notes:

  1. http://www.whdh.com/story/28529943/man-charged-in-connection-with-dawnn-jaffier-murder

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