Promise of Something Good

Wrote this in June, 2010. The beginnings of what has now become a state of war in certain neighbourhoods of this city.

Dear friends and fam,

These days it often takes something drastic for us to reach out to one another. Our busy minds and sore limbs make it difficult to flow our relationships in a natural way. We have to schedule each other in. This is the reality of our times. The fragmentation of community.

On Tuesday night, a 16 year old young man I have worked with closely over the last 3 years almost lost his life. Thanks to quick reflexes, a door that was unlocked and qismat (fate), he escaped 10 bullets, whose remains now mark the front door and wall of his town house on Regent Street, showing everyone in the neighborhood the fragility of the lives of young men of color in our city. He was a random target.

A few days before this incident, a 14 year old boy was shot in his Regent Park home. The bullets were intended for his 11 year old brother. Young men from another downtown neighborhood. Long-standing beef between these two areas. Retaliation. Doesn’t matter who gets shot. As long as somebody does.

We know these stories often don’t make the news. But incidents in Regent particularly won’t. With a billion dollar project to “revitalize” the neighbourhood, you can be sure no camera crews will be rolling up in here. Only the increased presence of police.

I spent all yesterday and today supporting the young man and his family with the help of some amazing community workers from Regent Park. Invested people. Those that care, despite the burnout, the bags under their eyes. Beautiful beautiful people with huge hearts.

I am not sure what this email is intended for. Perhaps for solace. To reach out to fam. And maybe I just need to process. To vent. Because god knows these thoughts won’t quit. And I need clarity right now more than anything. Not to make sense of it all. Because I know shit is complicated. I need clarity to figure out where we go from here. Where the fuck we, as community, as caring individuals, as mentors to the younger generation, go from here. Because my heart is in this. Because your heart is in this. Because we all need the promise of something good. Something better than what we’ve got right now.


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