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There’s a war going on – But why?

27 Nov 2005

There have been 18 victims killed by gunfire in the GTA in the last two weeks. Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair promises to crack down on the problem by increased neighbourhood police presence and has a special task force to monitor the gang violence between the ‘urban’ and street gangs.

That’s good, isn’t it? By increasing the police presence in Toronto neighbourhoods (notice how there are no particular neighbourhoods mentioned? I can’t see more po-po in Yorkville), he believes that this will deter the problem. In regards to the increased usage of guns, Blair said in Sunday’s Toronto Star that because guns are being used to settle personal disputes and perceived slights, it makes it harder to control the problem. But Toronto’s crime rate is actually lower than two years ago.

Blair seems like a more laid back and realistic Police Chief than his predecessor, Julian Fantino, who seemed to either exaggerate the crime statistics in Toronto for his benefit, or deny that racial profiling and corrupt cops actually existed. We don’t have visions anymore of our police chief going home after a hard day’s work and donning a white sheet and pointed white hood.

But besides the idea to enforce a curfew for youths between the ages of 11-16 to be off the streets by 11:00pm, everything seems to be in control – from a Serve and Protect mandate. But no one seems to want to look at the underlying factors, like why are people shooting each other? Why are we doing drive-by’s like Boyz in the Hood ?

On Wednesday, August 3rd, 4-year-old Shaquan Cadougan was shot twice in front of his house. Four other people were injured during the drive-by in which police believe that over a dozen rounds were fired. Apparently, the boy’s 15 year-old brother, Junior, believes that the bullets were meant for him. As a gifted basketball player who had the talent and drive to eventually make it to the pros, Junior had made a lot of enemies in his area. People were extremely jealous of the 5’11 player, and wanted to get rid of him. Instead, his innocent brother was seriously hurt and the already detested neighbourhood of Jane & Finch has been publicly maligned – again.

It is time for the black community to take responsibility for these actions and I can comfortably say the black community because most of the victims were black, shot by their own people. As Jadakiss so aptly says in his song, “Why”

Why all the young niggaz is dyin''
Cause they moms at work, they pops is gone, they livin'' wit iron


We need to look after our own. Stop silencing your beefs with violence. Stop trying to curb your jealousies by killing each other. This is one case in which we deserve all the public bullshit that is going to rain down on us.

But the larger community has to understand why people are frustrated, why they look to violence to heal their pain inside. This is the work of self-hatred, living in a world where people have made us doubt our own intelligence, our self worth and for black women, our sexuality. Because we do not have a unified identity as African-Canadians, we have very little ancestors or black leaders that can inspire and guide us so we have to start at home.

Parents have to start being parents, but parents have to first deal with their own issues. Here is an example: A friend of mine was telling me about a co-worker, a fifty-something black woman and mother who is devoid of any self-worth. As a youth worker who clients are developmentally delayed and sometimes can be extremely violent, she refused to file a report after one of her clients pushed her into a metal file cabinet, injuring her and then calling her a “black nigger bitch.” This same woman stays with a cheating husband and feels powerless to leave. “What’s the point?” she said to my outraged friend.

If this is an indication of the homes in which the younger generation is living in, added with these trying financial times and our youth not receiving the education and encouragement they deserve, we are going to have more problems. As for the many of us who were raised in dysfunctional homes, we need to stop the cycle of putting up with verbal abuse in public areas, in the workplace and most importantly, stop being so self-absorbed. Your children are watching you.

We are not going to receive any sympathy from those living in Forest Hill or Thornhill. White people are not going to reach out and help us. They never did, can’t, never will and you know what? I wouldn’t either. But I love my people and I know that we can stop this unnecessary violence.

With increased police presence in troubled neighbourhoods, get ready for some racial profiling. As I was walking home last night after midnight, I saw three young black kids roaming the streets with alcohol in their hands. Remember who is going to be the target of these curfews. Turn off the BET and read a book.

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