“Everybody gon’ respect the shooter, but the one in front of the gun lives forever”…
Wise words by the rap genius himself Kendrick Lamar come to mind, as we at The Omelette consider the mess our home has become over the last little bit with young and youthful blood filling the streets of Toronto as this summer brings with it some blistering heat.
The city of Toronto has been gripped by a flurry of murders and attacks in from brown-brick boroughs to bougie intersections, and it is the randomness and boldness of this spike in crime that has people freaking out.
It’s tough to imagine the same place that I would drunkenly stumble onto a streetcar from or quickly grab a coffee around, would be the site of vicious shootings. That being said, Toronto continues to grow and who knows what the underbelly of rapid urbanization looks like.
Everyone from the cops, to the news, to the random weirdo trying to get your number in the Uber pool has something to say about why or how this violence is taking place and they all seem to leave one key thing in common – there are young men and women in real pain right now and we need to come together with a real plan.
So of course we had to throw our two cents in.
We want to start by acknowledging and praying for the families and victims affected by the violence that has really shaken up what we believe is still the greatest city in the world. Their loss is a pain that cannot be contained by words or fit neatly in a hashtag – it is a terrible scar they will wear and we hope for more strength to them.
We truly believe that the solution in this crazy situation in our Toronto lies in helping the youth, a.k.a the architects of our future.
And so, if we can be this bold, here’s what we think are 4 Reasons Why Toronto if Getting Violent This Summer:
1. Disappearance of Real O.G’s
As a city grows, so does the complexity of crime. The ability to keep stability relies on their being people in power, voices of the street, and mentors on the block, who take on the task of coordinating, counselling, and communicating with the youth to keep them in check and to help them see the bigger picture.
The problem with this model to managing the underground is that many of these O.G’s have left the hood to seek homes in Durham region or other quiet neighbourhoods in the hope of cleaning money and starting fresh.
Can’t hate on that. In addition, a lot of the people who should be giving these kids game, are actually handing kids guns and drugs with the expectation to push work, become an aggressive thug, and an obedient foot soldier for these outdated goons. In short, the role models of the streets have either abandoned the block or are exploiting the youth for their personal gains.
2. Youth Unemployment
While the city’s unemployment does not appear to be at a level of concern for the public, youth continue to experience major issues and barriers towards finding basic work. Whether it’s to help mom with the endless bills, or simply to buy two movie tickets at Scarborough Town Centre, our teens are learning at a very early age that they need money and they want it now.
Frustrations around seeing adults or seniors take on the jobs they feel they deserve, many of these teens are turning to the streets as a means of not only making money but also feeling wanted as a valued employee – a feeling the city’s working culture chose not to provide.
It’s not that the businesses and employers are to blame for the violence. Rather, it’s more about looking at why these youth are in the areas they are in and committing to these lifestyles versus much safer and legal ones. Teenage spirit is a powerful energy and Toronto teens are screaming out, not for crack rock, not for a new burner, and not for a late night shift in the trap…but instead they are screaming out to simply have a job.
3. Luxury Lifestyles Just Down the Street
This is related to the issue of youth unemployment. Toronto’s rapid growth has led to there being a whole lot of rich people, expensive stores, and trendy lifestyles flashing over the eyes and ears of youth across the city. The temptation and taste of that Instagram life is literally next door, a block away, or a sidewalk across, and this can be infuriating for those who also feel they will never have that life.
Pair this disappointment with living in housing projects, subsidized buildings, or simply rougher circumstances, and a sensitive teen can be come very tragically aware of their environment leading them to lash out, feel misunderstood, and prioritize their decisions around material wealth rather than morals and values.
The ugly side of hypebeast culture, social media, and living in a luxury city is that the have’s are essentially suffocating the have not’s and their ability to focus on their own healthy growth. The allure of toys, money, and short term gain is far more interesting than honesty, care, and empathy to say the least.
4. Out of Touch Community Programs
Toronto has some amazing minds and hearts putting in a ton of work in the community and youth services sectors. Selfless, caring, and never-thanked counsellors, facilitators, and workers have consistently created opportunities for the youth to engage in their community, have a safe space to hang out, and see an alternative to the darker life while still being proud of who they are.
The problem is that many of these community programs (not the staff, but the programs!) have not been re-modeled or revised to be sensitive to the ways that youth have changed. Youth listen to different music, are much more in tune with technology, are more desensitized to violence and sex, and are simply absorbing information a lot quicker than we did.
If we want community programs to really engage these new youth, then the sector needs to be more innovative and challenging in their approach to communicating with kids. Whether that means that staff actually visit the hoods, our most needy youth wake up in, or creating initiatives that allow youth to create and feel more empowered, there has to be a step taken to fill up our community centers and drop-in programs and cease the monotony of out-of-touch initiatives.
Now I hope that our rant hasn’t hurt any feelings or made it look like we are taking culprits off the hook,
We are always looking at life through the lens of a youth perhaps because mentally we still are them; naive, experimental, clumsy, and hella adventurous.
While these youth may be key agents of conflict and trouble, they’re also our future and need the city’s support now more than ever!
Toronto will continue to grow, the question remains if the people can with it.
Agree or disagree? Jump in on this community conversation and let us know your thoughts and why you think the city is so “hot” this summer.
Peace, and more peace.