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Andray Anthony Domise

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Rob Ford's Answer to Being a Racist? "It's Complicated"

Posted: 07/02/2014 5:31 pm

Rob Ford
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Yesterday, I had an unpleasant encounter with Mayor Rob Ford at Ribfest. I shook his hand and asked him if he was going to apologize for referring to African Canadians as "niggers," and to community grant programs as "hug-a-thug" programs. The brief exchange ended with him shrugging and saying "It's complicated," before walking away.

I wish there were so much more I could have asked Mayor Ford. I wish I could have asked him why he feels that he does more for black youth than the Lions Circle, more than Tropicana Community Services, more than 100 Strong, more than the Black Business Professionals Association. I wish I could have asked him why he takes no responsibility for the wreckage the investigation into his drug transactions has left behind in the Somali community. Why he hasn't looked upon the faces of the men and women forced to the ground by police in the middle of the night, and offered an abject apology for helping to bring this down on their heads.

I wish I could have asked him why he feels that Jerome Miller, a young, fiercely intelligent, and successful man would be in jail or dead without his intercession. These and so many more questions, but as Rob turned his broad back on me and walked away, I was left alone to contemplate the futility of asking Rob Ford any questions at all. He doesn't answer them because he doesn't need to. Because we don't make him. Ford Nation occupies a space of complete epistemic closure, where the truth is as it comes forth from the lips of Rob Ford. Everything else is either a distraction, or an irrelevant item from an inert past.

Before I spoke with Rob Ford, I approached a group of African Canadian youth. They were the outside ring of the Ford Nation mob, smiling and cracking jokes to each other, taking up the cheer "Rob Ford! Rob Ford! Rob Ford!"

I watched the faces of these young people light up. I watched their sheer glee at being in the presence of the man who had made their reputations more tarnished, their futures more unstable, and their lives more dangerous. It turned my stomach.

I don't expect Rob Ford to rise to the decorum of his office this late in the game, but it's difficult not to be let down. It's difficult when there are so many African Canadian youth putting in so much effort to get ahead, and being offered zero opportunity from their elected representatives. It's difficult when they latch on to Rob Ford as some sort of political Robin Hood, and cheer the same man who called himself "the most racist guy around."

This is the reality of politics in Toronto, where a change in City Hall often means almost nothing at the ground level. Our young people, underemployed and rapidly losing hope, are referred to as "lost" and "a waste" by their elders. Those elders work themselves well past retirement age, clinging to the vestigial scraps of middle-class status. Our public housing molders, and our inadequate transit system leaves many facing an arduous daily commute. To many, the promise of change is false, empty, and dead.

I've said before that Rob Ford's ongoing support is not just due to stubborn holdouts, unable to let go of their populist grudges. The reality is worse; these supporters -- of which many of us can count ourselves -- are people who legitimately feel utterly let down by their government. Their support of our disgraced mayor is an upraised middle finger directed at a political class that, from their point of view, could not care less about their quiet struggle.

What saddens me deeply, though, is that Rob Ford doesn't care, either. To him, we are a cushion for his ego. He apes our dialects, dances in our street parades, clothes himself in the saintly artifice as our young men's shepherd. When he finds himself back on his heels, he dangles the threat of those young men being turned loose to wreak violence and chaos. And he continues unabated, because too many us in the African Canadian communities are co-signing his behaviour.

So the questions I have aren't for Rob Ford. He does not care. My questions are for those of us in the African Canadian communities who continue to support him.

1. If your teenaged son or daughter behaved in the way Mayor Ford has behaved, would you be OK with that? And what would you say to them?

2. Given that he has already taken advantage of us, co-opted our culture, put money from his own pocket into the hands of drug dealers, called your sons "thugs," called the rest of us "niggers," and reduced his destructive, sociopathic behaviour to a problem with weight and alcohol, what would it take for Rob Ford to finally lose your support?

3. If we are not being adequately represented at City Hall, why has there not been an organized effort to groom and support candidates who will do so?

You have just under four months before the answer has a very real chance of becoming moot. But please do consider the fact that there are some of us from the "lost generation," myself included, are working very hard to provide better representation for all communities in City Hall. We are doing our part.

We cannot do it without your help.

A final question, and be very honest. When this election is over, would you rather remember yourself for being motivated by revenge against the political establishment, or by hope that our young men and women will be up to the task of shaping Toronto's future?

We await your answer.

This post originally appeared on Medium.

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  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is greeted by a media throng as returns to his office at city hall in Toronto on Monday June 30, 2014, after his stay in a rehabilitation facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is greeted by a media throng as returns to his office at city hall in Toronto on Monday June 30, 2014, after his stay in a rehabilitation facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leaves his office at city hall in Toronto on Monday June 30, 2014, after his first day back at work following his stay in a rehabilitation clinic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford holds back his emotions while speaking during an invite-only press conference at City Hall in Toronto on Monday, June 30, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford holds back his emotions while speaking during an invite-only press conference at City Hall in Toronto on Monday, June 30, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

  • A pro-Ford supporter stands next to Councillor John Fillion (right) as they listen to an audio feed of a news conference by Mayor Rob Ford on his return to city hall in Toronto on Monday June 30, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

  • UP NEXT: Best Rob Ford GIFs

  • 'Wrecking Ball' Ford

    Check out <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfXPPjCMLOI" target="_blank">the soundtrack</a>. <a href="http://imgur.com/pDO1anT" target="_blank">From Imgur</a>

  • Drinking And Driving

    We saw that, Rob. <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/let-wrecking-ball-show-you-the-true-beauty-of-rob-ford" target="_blank">From Buzzfeed</a>

  • Muuah!

    Ford blows us a kiss. <a href="http://twitchy.com/2013/11/08/the-gif-that-keeps-on-gifing-15-hilarious-must-see-rob-ford-moments/" target="_blank">From Twitchy</a>

  • Ford vs. Hulk Hogan

    We still can't believe he won, either. <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/let-wrecking-ball-show-you-the-true-beauty-of-rob-ford" target="_blank">From Buzzfeed</a>

  • Bongos

    <a href="http://o.canada.com/news/rob-ford-toronto-summer-of-ford/" target="_blank">Best summer ever</a>. <a href="http://i.imgur.com/AiflEHJ.gif" target="_blank">From Imgur</a>

  • Flashdance

    He's got the moves like Jagger.. He's got the moves like Jagger. <a href="http://www.postcity.com/Eat-Shop-Do/Do/November-2012/In-tribute-of-GIF-being-the-word-of-the-year-heres-our-favourite-Toronto-GIFs/" target="_blank">From PostCity</a>

  • Self-Fumble

    Invisible defenders take down the mayor with an invisible tackle.

  • Foiled By The Jedi

    <a href="http://i.imgur.com/JrKal.gif" target="_blank">From Imgur</a>

  • Falling Off The Scale

    Did we mention this <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/12/12/rob-ford-ballet-nutcracker-toronto_n_1143708.html" target="_blank">man once performed in a ballet</a>? From <a href="http://robfordfalls.tumblr.com/">Rob Ford Falls Tumblr</a>

  • Running Man

    That's one way to deal with reporters. <a href="http://fordfortoronto.mattelliott.ca/misc/ford-ani/all-ani.html">From Ford For Toronto by Matt Elliott</a>

  • Maniacal Laugh

    Muhahahahaha <a href="http://fordfortoronto.mattelliott.ca/misc/ford-ani/all-ani.html">From Ford For Toronto by Matt Elliott</a>

  • Maniacal Laugh II

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  • Robbie Boo Boo

    <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/22minutes/videos/clips---season-20/robbie-boo-boo.html" target="_blank">"22 Minutes" strikes again</a>. From <a href="http://thishourhas22minutes.tumblr.com/post/34114355293/22-minutes-discovers-mayor-rob-fords-new-honey">This Hour Has 22 Minutes</a>

  • Word Vomit

    Who needs words when you can just <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/04/02/rob-ford-vomit-noise-video_n_3001086.html" target="_blank">pretend to vomit</a>? <a href="http://imgur.com/gwV7q2h" target="_blank">From Imgur</a>

  • Time For His Close-Up

    Rob Ford proves you can run <em>from</em> the media, you can run <em>into</em> the media, and sometimes, you can do both at the same time. <a href="http://imgur.com/r/funny/nATPNJb" target="_blank">GIF from Imgur</a>

  • Bitchin' Sweater

    Bonus image. Want. <a href="http://imgur.com/xtxz2" target="_blank">Thank you Imgur</a>

  • NEXT: The Many Faces Of Ford

  • Toronto Rob Ford, right, gestures to Councillor Paul Ainslee in the council chamber as councillors look to pass motions to limit his powers in Toronto on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013. Blasting what he called a "coup d'etat," Ford said voters should be able to pass judgment on him, not his fellow councillors.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (centre) dances with participants ahead of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival in Toronto on Saturday July 30, 2011.

  • Toronto City Mayor Rob Ford, left, celebrates after defeating wrestler Hulk Hogan in an arm-wrestling match to promote Fan Expo in Toronto on Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 .

  • Twenty-two month-old Micah MacMilan reacts as he is picked up by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford while Ford was signing bobblehead dolls in his likeness at City Hall in Toronto on Tuesday November 12, 2013.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford holds up a replica Grey Cup as he attends the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats CFL Eastern Conference final football game in Toronto on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford laughs with fans as he attends the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats CFL Eastern Conference final football game in Toronto on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013. Ford showed up at Sunday's Canadian Football League playoff game, despite a request by the league's commissioner that he stay away.

  • Canadian recording artist Drake, left, and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford laugh at a news conference announcing that Toronto will host the 2016 NBA All-Star game, in Toronto, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford displays a milk moustache as he takes part in voting with city council members in Toronto on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford watches from the sidelines near the Argos bench during a CFL football game between the Toronto Argonauts and Calgary Stampeders in Calgary on Saturday, August 18, 2012.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford poses for photographs inside a giant shark mouth while attending the grand opening of the Ripley's Aquarium of Canada in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013. After two years of construction, delays and (Canadian) $130 million in costs, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada opened to the public Wednesday.

  • City of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford poses for a photo opportunity with other dignitaries in a shark's jaws at the opening of Ripley's Aquarium of Canada in Toronto on Wednesday, October 16, 2013.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is hoisted into the air by his Don Bosco Eagles team after winning the Metro Bowl quarter-final at Birchmount Park in Toronto, Thursday Nov. 15, 2012. A civil trial hearing in which the mayor is accused of libel against a restaurant owner went on without him.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (center) smiles as he officially opens the refurbished Sunnydale rink with Toronto Maple Leafs' coach Ron Wilson (right) and other dignitaries who were on hand as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs who practiced on the outdoor rink in Toronto on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford grabs the Grey Cup by the handles during a parade celebrating the Toronto Argonauts victory in the Grey Cup final in Toronto on Tuesday November 27, 2012 .

  • Rob Ford Meets Butter Rob Ford

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  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford hoists the Grey Cup on stage with Toronto Argonauts players while celebrating the team's Grey Cup victory in downtown Toronto on Tuesday, Nov.27, 2012.

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  • Mayor Rob Ford speaks at city council in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013.

  • Nov. 13 2013. Toronto mayor Rob Ford during the afternoon session as councillors continued to debate a motion asking mayor Rob Ford to apologize to Torontonians for misleading therm about his use of crack cocaine.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford speaks to his Don Bosco Eagles team during the Metro Bowl quarter-final at Birchmount Park in Toronto, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012.

  • In this Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 file photo, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford holds a bobblehead doll depicting him at Toronto City Hall. An electoral map of the 2010 mayoral election shows that Ford's voter base resides mainly in a more conservative constituency than the downtown electorate.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (left) and city councillor Michelle Berardinetti (right) smile on stage during a performance of the Nutcracker in Toronto on Saturday, December 10, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit)

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford jumps on stage dressed as a Cannon Doll during a performance of the Nutcracker in Toronto on Saturday, December 10, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit)

  • Rob Ford's ballet debut

    Toronto Mayor Rob Ford acts on stage dressed as a Cannon Doll during a performance of the Nutcracker in Toronto on Saturday, December 10, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit)

  • City of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford addresses the media outside office in Toronto on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, after the release of a video. A new video surfaced showing Ford in a rage, using threatening words including "kill" and "murder."

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford emerges from his office holding slices of a birthday cake to offer to members of the media at city hall in Toronto on Tuesday May 28, 2013.

 

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