By ARNOLD A. AUGUSTE, Publisher/Senior Editor
In an article published in both Share and Pride Newsmagazine last week, Dr. Ajamu Nangwaya, explained why he didn’t believe the naming of a Black chief of the Toronto Police Service would solve problems that exist between the community and the police.
Although he used much stronger language.
“As a member of the African-Canadian community, I am quite puzzled by the exuberant display of irrationality and misplaced expectations by some African-Canadians over the possibility of the appointment of either Deputy Chief Peter Sloly or Deputy Chief Mark Saunders as the next chief of the Toronto Police Service (TPS),” he wrote, adding that it was “the African-Canadian petty bourgeois elements who are loudly clamouring or serving as cheerleaders” for the respective candidates.
“These social climbing characters are infatuated with celebrating the ‘first Black’ this and the ‘first Black’ that, as if they are the measurement of a substantive change in the economic, social and political condition of working-class African-Canadians.”
For one thing, the need to celebrate “a first Black” chief is not the primary concern in this situation for most of us who are worried about who the next chief is going to be. Our primary concern is to have the board name someone who can take the force in a different direction where community policing will really mean something and community engagement will mean just that, and not the criminalizing of our youth.
Secondly, the fact that we are still, in 2015, looking forward to celebrating “firsts” speaks more of this society than it does of us. And, in any case, why shouldn’t we be happy to celebrate the naming of the first Black chief of Canada’s largest municipal police service?
And, thirdly, “petty bourgeois”? Really?” Are we still doing this to each other?
Dr. Nangwaya does stand on solid historical evidence, though, when he suggests that the naming of a Black person to important decision-making positions might not provide the “substantive change” we expect or need.