Posts Tagged ‘politics’
The National Post hosts Ashley Csanady’s article “Toronto’s rough Moss Park neighbourhood becoming the city’s next gentrification battleground”, looking at how this up-and-coming neighbourhood in downtown Toronto is responding to gentrification pressures.
Joan Harvey has lived in Toronto’s Moss Park towers for 35 years, and watched as her neighbourhood was slowly infected by drugs, violence and an increasingly bad reputation.
As the head of her building’s tenants association, she spends every Saturday night staked out in a lobby or ground floor community room keeping the “riff-raff,” as she puts, it out of the building.
The three massive towers lie just a 20 minute walk or so from the Eaton Centre, and even closer to Regent Park, an area to the east that has been spectacularly — and controversially — revitalized in recent years.
Now Harvey’s neighbourhood is the next gentrification battleground as a proposal to rebuild the nearby John Innes Community Centre winds its way toward city council. On Wednesday night, another community meeting will debate the plan to revive one of the city’s most dilapidated corners, even as a gourmet sandwich shop is set to open and a farmer’s market has already moved in.
Backed by the 519 — an LGBTQ community organization based on Church Street — and a private donor, the plan is to rebuild the crumbling, yellow community centre and its surrounding park with a combination of fundraising and government cash. Right now, the corner of Queen Street East and Sherbourne is notorious for its drug use, sex workers and the nearby shelters keep the sidewalks crowded and the social services overloaded.
At Torontoist, Jean Boampong describes a conversation that I am glad is occurring in Toronto.
Living in Toronto means hearing the word “multiculturalism” a lot in the context of progress. It is often touted as the most diverse, most friendly, and most livable city in the world. In 2017, Toronto will be made up of at least 50 per cent “visible minorities.” “Diversity is our strength,” reads Toronto’s Coat of Arms. Cultural events and months—such as Caribana and Asian Heritage Month—feature boutiques of colourful ethnic food and music that media outlets capture year round in coverage and advertisements.
But through this appearance of harmony lies barriers, hardships, and the disappearance of people of colour—especially Black Canadians.
Growing up as a first-generation Black Canadian girl, I didn’t have a lot of spaces that told me I belonged. In elementary school, my white teacher told me that Ghana, my family’s country of origin, didn’t exist. In junior high, I was reminded that my Blackness is seen as a threat when an employee at a gas station (who was Brown) accused me of stealing because I bent down to grab a granola bar to pay for. In high school, I didn’t learn about indigenous Black Canadians and their 300-year history in Canada. Instead, I was told that we didn’t exist until the 80s wave of African and Caribbean immigrants entering Canada.
By “we,” I mean all of us: all Black people. We are not, never have, and never will be a monolith that is easily digestible and consumable for everyone else. We are queer, disabled, African, Caribbean, Asian, European, trans, Muslim, women, and many more identities all at once. Existing in multiple intersections means that our experiences are layered and complex. But somehow, Black Canadians are often told to leave parts of us behind at the door.
This was my experience while attending university. When I wanted to enter progressive spaces to grow my understanding of social justice, I was expected not to make anything “about race.” When I hosted an event about food justice, I was told that if I kept talking about race, nothing would get done. In Black student spaces, gender was considered a distraction. In feminist spaces, race was considered a distraction. While I studied Criminal Justice at Ryerson University, I deliberately skipped classes about race and the criminal justice system because I knew I would be erased. For four years, I was repeatedly given an ultimatum: either advocate for issues about my race and lose, or advocate for issues about my gender and lose.