Dear People of the Danzig, Scarborough Community in the City of Toronto,
I am compelled to apologize to your community members, families, children, mothers, fathers and friends for the great loss you have experienced. My deepest condolences to your community.
I am aware that many people are talking about the violence that occurred at the Danzig Block party. Some media outlets are talking about who died, how they died, how old they were and who they were loved by. Politicians are talking about gun registries and gun bans. Social workers and community activists are talking about poverty and funding for community programs. And our mayor is talking some crap about ‘hug-a’thug’ programs and that he is a big supporter of youth.
I’m not sure what you want us to talk about – what you, yourselves are talking about, except I imagine, that grief (can) make(s) it hard to talk about all these other things.
The power of a gun has been a replacement for the lack of power people feel when they are impoverished and disenfranchised. I am not saying (gun) violence is okay. But when you take a racialized community, give them no jobs or the worst jobs in a rich flourishing city, when you close their schools and de-fund their community centres, you get increased violence, sadness, community loss and grief and surely, oppression.
And when a community is oppressed, well, it is a great challenge not to perpetuate that oppression on ourselves and others.
It is obvious that Rob Ford has made an active effort to not take the advice and direction of numerous city councillors and has not made any attempt to learn the social dynamics of how poverty creates disempowered people, and thus increased violence in a community.
At the same time, this line of thinking misplaces the blame. And definitely does not describe the whole picture.
The institution has so much responsibility in this moment, it is ridiculous. And Rob Ford is the head of that civic administration. Ford is racist and malicious, a purposeful and intentional perpetuator of the very violence that happened in Danzig and that continues to happen in Scarborough. And if he did any research, he would know that. That is, if he really cared.
Instead of wielding a gun, Rob Ford wields his power as mayor; his choice to connect with Stephen Harper to talk about immigration and to name “gang violence” as the root cause of this violence (if he uses the racist term of “hug-a-thug program” one more time, I am going to scream!). Further, as Ford continues to vote against programming in Scarborough that supports youth and other survivors of violence, Ford acts as the police who blame the victim when she reports she has been sexually assaulted. Ford is using systemic power, privilege and in this case, white supremacy to deflect the blame of his administration creating poverty and disempowerment in the community of Scarborough.
I wanted to write this letter to name that although individual people have caused the physical violence that continues to rock your community, the violence that happens to your community of Black and Brown working class and poor people; the perpetuating of this violence is happening at the hands of our very own mayor and the administration that says his racism is acceptable by allowing him to stay in power. And although there are many city councillors who are doing their work, fighting with every ounce of energy they have, the systemic violence that you experience daily, is not okay. And we all see it.
I don’t think I have anything new to say. I am mostly writing because I am tired of racism in my city and I am dramatically moved by the ongoing violence in communities that I share race, ethnicity, economic backgrounds with.
I believe Rob Ford is wielding the power he has like a gun over the city of Toronto and targeting Scarborough, Black, Brown, Indigenous folks and immigrants.
My heart goes out to you, the mothers, children, friends, sisters, brothers, uncles and aunties of the Danzig blocks. May you all find some semblance of peace and the will to keep on with the fight.
With love and solidarity,