Choosing My Own Adventure

I loved reading Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid.

You arrive in a world that’s familiar and foreign. Every couple of pages, you’d encounter a fork in the road. You decided the direction not the outcome. Some directions led to death. Others led to heroic feats. But it was your choice.

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The Poli Problem

For the past few months, my daughter’s favourite tv show is Robocar Poli and that’s a problem. The issue is that her favourite character is Poli. Poli is police car that transforms into a robot and is the leader of a rescue Team.

She’s a smart kid. But she’s only three years old. She doesn’t know that — in Toronto — police are 20 times more likely to injure or kill her dad because he’s black.

The problem with Poli started last December. We were listening to the CBC’s Metro Morning. Matt Galloway was talking about a recent Ontario Human Rights Commission inquiry. He asked the report’s author why anti-black racism was an issue with Toronto Police. Zadie lounged out on the couch, drinking her milk. When the clip ended, she spoke. “Why say Police?”

I looked at her mom, who is white. And then I said something like, “Well, Zades, some police are good and some police are bad. Bad police sometimes hurt black men.”

She’s at an age where “why” is the question we hear. A lot. Maybe I’m misremembering but she didn’t probe any further. How do you explain to a toddler that the hero of her show is to some people a symbol of terror?

That police have harassed her dad for “walking while under the influence of melanin.” And that they have done much worse to many black men and boys.

I don’t dread having this conversation with my daughter. It’s a reality I’ve dealt with since I transformed from cute black kid to menace to society in the eyes of some police. I know my own future. Serious conversations skulk behind dark corners, ready to ambush me.

Why are you black and why is mommy white? What is slavery? Are black people bad? Are white people good? If I’m mixed, what am I? That day was one of my first reminders that it’s coming. And that I’ll never quite be ready.

The next morning, Zadie again heard “police” on the radio.

This time, systemic racism had infested the Thunder Bay police department. They played a clip of a woman. Her brother was found dead. She said the police botched the investigation because her brother was indigenous. At the end of the clip, she cried.

Zadie spoke again. “Why crying?”

Something other than shopping

It was lunchtime.

I wanted somewhere to go. Something to see. Something to do. Something other than shopping.

The exhibition at CONTACT Gallery at 80 Spadina Ave. had ended in December. In its place was a set of chairs, arranged in a circle(?), and empty walls. Interesting, but not inspiring.

Everything else near Spadina and Queen nudges you to buy stuff.

Coffee. Clothing. Tasty Macarons.

There are art galleries at 401 Richmond. I’ve visited them before.

I was craving something novel. Next time, if I plan it right, maybe I can dash to the AGO.

But I shouldn’t have to hustle. We need more places/spaces that enrich civic life. I’d enjoy more spaces/places that don’t demand an offering to consumerism.

I caved and bought three craft beers.

Spending time with Toronto’s Soul Man

There are a lot of places to find new music.

Spotify. Pitchfork. HBO TV shows.

But sometimes it’s best to put your faith in humanity. One such human is Hisa Hatanaka. I met Hisa five or six years ago on Queen Street West. In my mind, he’s forever stationed behind the counter of a tiny shop called Cosmos Records.

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A few thoughts on carding

Today’s news that carding doesn’t help fight crime didn’t surprise me.

Carding is a cancer that afflicts those caught walking while black. Most of what police have wrung from this policy turned out rotten. Its damage to the black community was psychic. Scars are fresh but it’s time to heal. Then I began to wonder about the people who support carding. How could they discredit this report? I searched for answers and found one on the Globe and Mail website in a photo and its caption.

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