Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Elephants are in the room and not one is called Mike Harris

I haven’t commented on the recent murders by guns that are plaguing Toronto this spring and summer. Even when three of these murders happened two short blocks away from my home. I wasn’t moved to comment when the Mayor in all seriousness blamed the death of these young men on the Americans and their guns. Nor did I comment when the Chief of Police announced that he needed more police officers on the streets of Toronto even though it still is not clear to me how that would save one single young black man’s life and make no mistake, at this point in time - this is all about black-on-black crime.

I chose not to comment on a Toronto’s councilor’s suggestion that Toronto Police target all young black males for weapons. Instead, I took the time to issue my son strict instructions if the police stop him as he goes on his way to school, the movies, the gym, the game store or he is stopped on his way to guitar lessons in Rosedale. At 12 years old he stands tall not just with all the cockiness of youth but his height easily lends itself to the illusion that he is older than he is. I have no burning desire to receive a call that he is at Police Division charged with Obstruction of Justice because he gave a false name or ridiculed the motives of a police officer if the Officer questions whether Montana is using his guitar case for carrying to conceal.

Instead I have been waiting for someone to acknowledge that there is not just one elephant in the room but a herd. So far, the councilor has been the only one to vaguely acknowledge there might be something sinister in the room. I have listened to the calls that there are not enough programs or job training programs for “youth.” Not black youth but “youth”. But today I read that it is all Mike Harris’ fault for cutting welfare programs 10 plus years ago and enough is enough.

Let me tell you a fact of life living in black community in the downtown east side of the inner city. There are a multitude of programs for youth to keep them off the streets. There are probably more community centers and not-for-profit programs run in this area than in any other part of the city. They are all easily accessible to all youths – even for those whose families are on welfare or have very limited financial means. Guess what? The children, on a whole, don’t show up. To participate and take advantage of any of these programs requires a certain amount of discipline to show up every Monday or Wednesday or Friday or Sunday and that is what these children lack because their families are so fractured and their parents have failed in their first duties to their children. Gangsterism thrives when the primary family unit fails. That’s the weight of fifty years of intensive study on the sociology and psychology of gangs. It’s time to wake-up and take heed of those lessons or pay the price on the street, at the subway, at the mall or in the school yard.

Not only have their families failed them by refusing to do whatever is necessary to consistently ensure that their children develop the necessary self-discipline to be able to reach any goal in life but when these youths leave the front door to commit a criminal act and are apprehended they are immediately sucked into the vortex of our criminal justice system where a whole cottage industry of social workers and defense counsel stand ready and firm to blame their recklessness and criminality on racism and lack of a stable family life. These are the excuses used to justify their home invasions, armed robberies and aggravated assaults. There are Justices who dearly wish to only facilitate the rehabilitation of these young black offenders rather than punish them for their transgressions. I will not argue that rehabilitation is not an integral part of our justice system but without punishment first; it is all for naught.

I will bet the rent money that once the individuals are apprehended who are the perpetrators of these recent murders; not one of them will come from a stable two parent home and they will all have had committed a violent indictable offence between the age of 16-18 years of age. These recent murders aren’t crimes of passion committed in a moment of overwhelming emotion but the cold blooded calculation of youth who live daily with the lack of accountability for their actions and do not overburden themselves with self-imposed discipline. If they had been tried as an adult under the law at 16 or 17 for their aggravated assaults, armed robberies, home invasions and sentenced as adults for their very grown up crimes there would be other young black men alive today. Too often we forget that there are three equal principles of our justice system: Punishment, deterrence and then, rehabilitation.

You can job-training program all you want but if Susie and Johnny have squandered every opportunity to learn in regular school what makes you think that a job-training program will meet with any success – especially in light of the fact that they can’t read or show up regularly or even on time? These children take the paths of least resistance and unless you are willing to offer something better than blaming the “man” for their lack of success in life – it’s not going to happen. Blaming Mike Harris for cutting welfare rates is the equivalent of blaming the Joos for their ills.

I can think of no other community in Canada with the exception of the aboriginal community that is so fractured by the dysfunctional family unit than the black community. It is far easier to blame someone else than admit there is a mote in your own eye. I have a message for you – whitey and whitey’s money can’t save you. Racism does exist but it will only end when you stop whining and whaling at the wall of racism about how the “man” is holding you back and go get yourself a ladder or a rope and haul your butt over that wall. But that takes two parents standing firm early in life saying “Get busy.” There is no pride in being a father of many by your 18th birthday. There is no badge of honour to be known as someone’s babies’ mother. Let me tell you something odd I discovered about Whitey years ago; for every one who attempts to block your path there are more standing firm ready to offer a hand up or cheer you on the path to your success.

10 comments:

Dex said...

How true. agree totally.

Anonymous said...

Kate,
If only everyone in the political ring could hear your words, they might actually learn something... you live it and breathe it, plus you are raising 3 amazing children who could fall victim to the plagues of TO streets... I commend you on the toughest job in the world, being a mother & a single one at that. I enjoy reading your blogs everyday, keep them coming!
Kym G....

darcey said...

Wonderful Kate! You just said it all

Jennifer said...

What a powerful post. Have you considered sending that to a paper?

I would be very interested in hearing about solutions. Were does our society even start to heal these wounds?

Simeon Drakich said...

I thank Kate at small dead animals for the link to this wonderful site.

Chris Taylor said...

Awesome post and a great lesson that every parent (regardless of ethnicity) should take to heart.

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

Great post. Wished you had trackbacks.

v said...

Amazing article, thank you for taking the time to write this.

AC@43 said...

Well said. Nothing more I could say.

Candace said...

As the mom of an 11-going-on-25 yr old girl (wasp), I can only imagine what you are going through. My daughter attends an inner-city school (because it is a kick-butt arts & academic school) and I fork over an extra $20/month for a school bus vs. transit, and will continue to do so until she deems it "no longer cool" (I'm hoping for 17, but likely dreaming).

My parents used to say "kids these days!" - I don't - it's got more to do with "these days" and "parents of these kids" than the kids.