March 10, 2006


House (of God) party: The venue is a church but a concert tomorrow is really about presenting the positive side of black youth (CHRISTIAN COTRONEO, 3/10/06, Toronto Star)

"We are the black. We are the white. We are the real Toronto," the poster says. "We do not carry guns, knifes or bats on our backs. We are the positive ones that make Toronto."

With those words, 19-year-old Devon Wells introduces the concert he has put together tomorrow, one that presents and promotes the other side of black youth culture in a city that has come to be synonymous, at least in Canada, with all that can go wrong on urban streets.

"There are so many positive people in the city of Toronto," Wells says, "yet when we turn on the TV, the first thing we might see — a black boy got shot, a white boy got shot. ... Why can't we say, `Look at this wonderful thing?'"

So Wells is sending out the word: Come to church. [...]

All proceeds from the concert, dubbed The Real Toronto, will go toward community youth projects created by his own not-for-profit group, Positive Intro, through which he hopes to establish a scholarship program for inner-city youth.

Positive Intro sprang from Wells's volunteer work at the church, where he helped organize youth outreach programs ranging from all-night faith music jams to an expenses-paid trip to Niagara Falls for a contingent of city kids.

He aims to go beyond the theory and rhetoric of the political sphere, where the troubles of the black community have become such a popular issue. [...]

For Wells, this is one way to help create a sense of community that he finds lacking in Toronto. In the tiny Caribbean nation of Grenada, where he grew up, "You walk the streets, you say hello to somebody," he recalls. "When you walk the street you must say `good morning' or `good night,' it doesn't matter to who it may be."

But here, "You would not find that connection with people by saying `good morning,'" he says. "Some people just look at you ... and think you're crazy."

Connecting through music and a positive word is one key to changing things.

"We need more of that," he says. "And if we get more of that, it's something that will help change the mind-frame of a lot of young people."

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 10, 2006 12:01 AM

I really find it telling, especially on your blog, that no one has commented with, at least, a non-eloquent Hoo-Rah.
These stories, especially in juxtaposition with those about the spineless Repubs who've been accidentaly and temporarily electected, are all that keeps this senior going.

Posted by: Mike Daley at March 10, 2006 9:29 PM