This past weekend, the Black Business and Professional Association honored distinguished excellence among blacks and non- blacks via its prestigious Harry Jerome Awards. The honored recipients have many good qualities in common in areas such as activism, professional excellence and public service. I bet none of these citizens have the negative qualities of Mayor Rob Ford.
For the longest time, councillor Doug Ford has often been uttering one of the least intelligent statements about blacks in Toronto. In defending the shortcomings of his brother, Mayor Rob Ford, he often remarks how "Rob Ford has done more for the black community than the hundreds of black leaders in the community." I beg to differ.
I vividly remember the first time I viewed a YouTube video on a big screen of a drunken Mayor Rob Ford among an exclusively black crowd in a public space. It was a busy day at a crowded barbershop called ONYX, an establishment that welcomes lots of youth and young professionals as it only charges $7 a cut every Tuesday.
The infamous video was of Rob Ford at an Etobicoke restaurant visibly drunk, sweating, insulting the Chief of Police and mumbling what sounded like a Jamaican Patois. I have never seen a person of such high position reduced to rubble before my eyes.
As soon as the mostly black patrons of the barbershop saw the video on CP24 and repeated on other TV stations, we could not help but laugh. Young people mimicked Ford and imitated him in the worst of ways. It was painful knowing we were discussing the 64th mayor of Toronto in such a way. It was funny yet tragic. Many debated why he was not arrested or at least charged for all his sins. No one defended the mayor or said anything positive about him.
Since his election four years ago, Mayor Rob Ford has truly embarrassed himself, our city and, worse, the institution of mayor. Earlier this month, the mayor became the lone voice to oppose a motion to honor the late Nelson Mandela. The motion was presented to council by Councilor James Pasternak -- a former school board trustee and one of the visible architects of the now thriving Afrocentric School in Toronto. The idea was to ask city staff to recommend a major street where a simple sign would be put up in honor of the former President of South Africa much like Ted Rogers Way on Jarvis Street between Bloor and Charles.
As the mayor's vote was making international news and being ridiculed once again, he changed his mind on the advice of his chief of staff. In his defense, his brother, Councilor Doug Ford, demanded a re-vote (which was granted the following day), claiming that, "No one in this city supports the black community more than Rob Ford. No one. Bottom line. Zing. Done. Okay?"
That is a total lie with no evidence to back his statement. Is appearing at a Toronto housing building and handing out $20 bills during a holiday season enough to claim the mayor and his brother are heroes of blacks?
President Bill Clinton recently reflected on Canada and Toronto's municipal politics during a lively exchange on the Jimmy Kimmel show, stating, "He (Ford) has absolutely destroyed every stereotype people have about Canadians." He added, "The Canadians are upbeat, optimistic, can-do, they are embracing, they are inclusive," and that "everything I ever believed about Canadians, old Rob has proved stereotypes are not good."
That is a sad assessment of our country and city by the former President. Canada and Toronto are too decent to be represented by anyone of Rob Ford's qualities. Ford has made us worse in the eyes of the world.
The mayor and his brother should realize what blacks want in Toronto is no different than what the majority of Canadians want. We value hard work; we don't condone criminals and despise those that deal in the drug world. Rob Ford spends his working hours with alleged criminals, purchases drugs from the street, uses cocaine, urinates on our streets and communicates in languages most of us are too decent to use.
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