The summer is hot and it's not just the temperature. Each summer I dread the headline news of young black males heading to the mortuary, and this summer was no different. The recent shootings of young...
Sooner or later, and usually at the most inappropriate time, some version of The Question ("Where do babies come from?") will emerge from your child's lips. Whatever the inspiration, our responses as Black Daddies tend to oscillate between evasion and deliberate vagueness ("Go ask your mother....").
For me, fatherhood began with a text message, followed by me making a 30 minute, long-distance call. Someone whom I hadn't heard from in about two months now tells me she's two months pregnant with my child. Every visit to see Aaliyah is like introducing myself to her for the first time.
I grew up with a very strict father. He grew up with a very strict father. He was a hard worker, and spent weeks at a time away from home working up North. Somehow, I always felt as though he was there. I always felt his presence with every decision I made, even when I was out of his sight. I called it a "healthy fear." I grew up with a crew of five friends. We were all very tight. I moved away in 1997 to pursue music. The others remained in the same neighbourhood. Friend number one is now a methamphetamine abuser. Friend number two has been to rehab four times and still abuses various drugs. This is an example of why my father said "NO!" so much.
Recently a brother in Toronto's West End was murdered. When I read the Toronto Star article, I immediately felt that they were making the victim seem guilty. What is the picture being painted of black men and black bodies in Toronto? Are we pawns to be shuffled and sacrificed on society's chessboard? Is there anything sacred about our existence? Are we only good for selling newspapers? Are our deaths to be used to get more funding for the police system? I refuse to play the position of the pimp, the drug dealer and/ or the deadbeat dad that you have laid out for me as choices. I must and will resist.
I am the son of a murder victim. On a chilly Sunday morning in March in 2004, I received a long-distance phone call from my older brother Mark. In a voice trembling with emotion, he informed me that our father was murdered the night before in a bar that my father had recently opened up. Our dad -- our father -- was dead.
But the sad truth is that as tragic as my personal story may be, I can draw literally hundreds of similar tales from the lived experiences of the denizens of this fine city here in the pale bosom of a so-called First World nation that casts itself as the envy of the world.