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Diasporian News of Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Source: Percy Konadu Yiadom

The Upsurge of Black Youths in the Greater Toronto Area

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The Undetected Epidemic: The Upsurge of Black Youths in Conflicts with the Laws in the Greater Toronto Area.

By Percy Konadu Yiadom (BSW, MSW)

After personally monitoring various court houses across the greater Toronto area, I am left with no other option but to sound the alarm bell to awaken some black families from their long slumbers. With my background as an African and for that matter a Blackman as well, I strongly value and recognize the opportunities that abounds in this country. Canada is one of the few countries in the world where parents are provided with child care benefits, stipends to help mothers care for their children until they turn into adulthood. Subsidized housing are provided to people at very low prices, the unemployed are provided with financial and other benefits and daily the homeless are housed, clothed and fed.

In other parts of the world, these benefits are not only none existent but unheard of. In these parts of the world young girls have no right to education and women are second class citizens, children walk to school barefooted and with empty stomachs, classes are held under trees, the availabilities and quality of medical care depends on one’s financial capabilities, children eat what their parents can afford but not what they prefer to eat, healthy and nutritious foods are rarely discussed and less important but the quantity to fill everybody’s stomachs. In this part of the world, one’s lifespan depends on the mercy of the creator but not on the quality of basic services.

Having witnessed and personally gone through these hardships and nightmares, my being in this country and for that matter in the advanced world is nothing but a blessing. It is an undeniable fact that most black families are immigrants who migrated from their home countries into Canada believing that this country is much better than their home countries irrespective and that their children and descendants will have better life and future. This simple belief should have been a morale booster to these families instead it is gradually turning into nightmares. Visits to the youth courts across the greater Toronto areas revealed nothing but black families mostly mothers and their sons, mothers who have either come to pose bails for their children or to plead with judges for mercy and lighter sentences for their children as well. Nevertheless, black families are not the only people seen in youth courts. However, black youths constitute the majority of the people accused of various crimes and offences across the greater Toronto areas. The 2006 population census in Canada indicated that blacks were one of the minor racial groups in Canada and yet blacks are filling all our jail houses and youth courts. Don’t we think this is concerning and need to be addressed? Personal interviews conducted revealed that most blacks who are in conflicts with the laws blame the system. My counter- question to them is do blacks live in a different system in Canada than the other races? And if the answer to this question is no then we have no basis to blame the system for our woes. Blacks, Caucasians, Chinese, to mention but a few live within the same system in Canada irrespective of one’s racial, religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and if the other people do not blame the system but continue to see progress in their generations then it is about time to react and change course. I therefore encourage all black families to take a minute to consider these questions and concerns.

1. How long should we wait for our sisters and daughters to continue pushing babies’ strollers along our streets because they dropped out of schools, had babies and had become single mothers?

2. How long should we wait for our sons and brothers to get shot and killed continuously? Remembering very well that our brothers and sons are always the highest on our homicide list

3. How long should we wait for our children to continually drop out of schools and get involved in illegal activities including drugs dealing?

4. How long should we wait for our own children to continue filling our jail houses and youth court rooms?

5. Finally, how long should we wait for our children to be jobless because they have all kinds of criminal records and can never get any meaningful jobs
Being a parent and a concerned black man I think the time to act is now. These problems have existed for a long time and it continues to escalate because truth is sometimes very hard to tell but not until we face the realities and admit our weaknesses and failures, we can never address our problems appropriately. We have to remember that we are blacks only by description and our skin colors but not by our capabilities. Blacks are capable like all other races, and by the virtue of the efforts and struggles by our predecessors we all have equal opportunities and rights and it is therefore up to us to cease blaming the system and capitalize on the enormous opportunities that abound around us. If we continue complaining and blaming the system at this moment, freedom fighters like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will roll over in his grave in disappointment, because black people are no more asked to occupy the back seats when they get on buses, because black people are no longer judged by the colors of their skins but by their conducts and actions, because black people are no longer segregated and discriminated against in the schools to attend and the usage of other public services and because they fought with their lives for what we have today. Had it not been the efforts, initiatives and struggles of these great men, blacks will still be playing the roles of second class citizens. Some years back, a black family occupying the famous white house as a president and the first family will have been nothing but a fallacy or sarcasm. How can we lose the determination, the spirit and encouragement that our predecessors implanted in us?
It is about time that we realized that we have a job to do, we have a tradition and a culture to protect and perpetuate, and that is the responsibility of maintaining our rights and equality. However, the multi-million question is how can we maintain our rights and status in the society if a whole generation is gradually slipping through the cracks in the society? Our children are our future generations, so where lies our future if our children are always the highest on our homicide lists and constitute the highest population in our jail houses and court rooms? All black parents should remember that we don’t just sow seeds but we should water these seeds until they grow up, bear fruits and harvest them. We are not just baby makers, but we have the responsibilities to ensure that our babies are well cared for, we have the responsibilities of waking our children up early in the mornings, help them in the showers, make breakfast for them and either walk with them or drive them to their schools, it is about time that our children go to schools on time so that they can attend the first lessons as well but not always late because we did not get them up on time. Let’s all remember that we are all failures if our children fail. It is never okay to give up because our children do not listen, they are our own children and we are therefore responsible for their welfares and wellbeing. The system, the laws, the police and the Children’s Aid Societies all play a second fiddle or roles in helping us protect, care, supervise and raise our children but the onus rest on our shoulders as the parents, we are the first responders in our children’s safety, we have to raise our children in the ways that we want them to be. If we want our children to succeed and have better futures to compete in the twenty first century then we should never give up on our children, we should care and supervise them, we should protect them and be intrusive in whatever they do, we should know who their friends are and who they socialize with in the communities, we should know where they are at all times, we should occasionally search their rooms and school bags to uncover what they might be hiding, we should occasionally check their schools to connect with their school authorities to enquire what they do in schools and to know whether they stay in schools until school closes. It will be much better to be intrusive in whatever our children do than to stay aloof and watch our children getting into troubles and getting shot frequently. We should not lose sight of the fact that the same system which advocate for our children to know their rights and challenge their parents if they do not agree with their decisions will also not spare them if they violate or break the laws in the system, who will be the eventual loser if we rely on the system and stay unconcerned for our children to take the laws into their own hands because they know their rights and end up in jails, with early pregnancies or being shot due to lack of proper or parental supervision? Children are considered vulnerable and defenseless and hence the need for a capable and potential care-givers who are obviously their parents unless they are deemed incapable to certain circumstances, if we all agree that children are minors, technically unwise and incapable to make some decisions on their own then we as parents need to care and supervise our children. Children should be guided and supervised in all activities and decisions and we should never leave our children to make their own decisions.

It is about time that we canvass our communities to conscientize our brothers, sons, daughters and sisters that dropping out of schools, filling our jail houses and court rooms, selling and dealing in drugs, prostituting, shooting at each other and many more will not help us but will continue to defame, and degrade our race. Black families should face the challenge heads on and acknowledge the realities that our children and youths are gradually falling through the social cracks and if something is not done a whole generation of black youths will gradually be wiped out and all the efforts, the toil and soil of our predecessors will be nothing but wasted efforts.

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