“Truly scared” rapper Drake wants a conversation to “change for the better” the situation between police and “black and brown” people.
It’s a noble pursuit.
“Open and honest dialogue is the first step,” Drake wrote in an open letter posted on his Instagram account in response to an upsetting police shooting of a man in Louisiana, just before another one in Minnesota.
It’s troubling stuff to watch what’s happening in the U.S. and there needs to be proper probing into these cases but Drake’s comment is rich with irony since he has not had proper dialogue with Toronto Police following a deadly shooting at his own OVO after party last summer.
Since no one covering his letter mentioned the Toronto shooting deaths of Ariela Navarro-Fenoy, 26 and Duvel Hibbert, 23, including Drake, I felt I had to. No one has been arrested for these two murders. But Drake focused his letter on the situation south of the border.
“I am grateful to be able to call America my second home,” wrote Drake. “Last night when I saw the video of Alton Sterling being killed it left me disheartened, emotional and truly scared.
“It’s impossible to ignore that the relationship between black and brown communities and law enforcement remains strained as it was decades ago. No one begins their life as a hashtag. Yet the trend of being reduced to one continues.”
He also wrote he is “concerned for the safety of my family, my friends and any human being that could fall victim to this pattern.”
He would know. But those slain at his event in Toronto were not killed by police. Nor were the 23 people shot to death in Toronto so far in 2016 — a 109% higher number of victims compared to last year.
Drake is certainly entitled to be concerned about the incidents in the United States but it took him 10 days to comment on the shooting at his own party in Canada.
His new album is great, he gets the key to the city but this whole thing about the shooting at his party shouldn’t get a free pass. Drake wants to talk about relationships with police but has pushed the don’t talk to police mantra in his songs.
In a song called All Charged Up he raps “N----s snitching on us without no interrogation. I stay silent ‘cause we at war.” In another the song No Tellin, he says, “Yeah, police comin’ ‘round lookin’ for some help, On a case they gotta solve, we never help ‘em.”
That just does not help Ariela and Duvel. They are not hashtags but did have toe tags.
There’s a lot of mixed up thinking around Toronto these days — specifically Black Lives Matter’s “shut it down” protest at this year’s Pride Parade. Rodney Diverlus, a spokesman for Black Lives Matter - Toronto, telling media on Thursday that Mayor John Tory “has no place in this discussion and he needs to stay in his lane” and “we are not interested in going back and forth with him” is embarrassing. Tory is the elected mayor of Toronto and can participate in any conversation he wants to.
It’s not clear who Black Lives Matter - Toronto represents.
One bright light came from Spider Jones, who has not only been a famous media personality in this town for a long time but a guy who has been working with youth with his Believe to Achieve organization too.
“In my opinion Black Lives Matter should be concentrating on black-on-black violence, which is out of control,” Jones said.
He also said “Mayor Tory and Police Chief (Mark) Saunders deserve better: both are positive leaders who care while Black Lives Matter is not positive, they exclude, and say they care but do nothing to show for it except express anger and grandstanding.”
I have never seen Drake or Black Lives Matter at a vigil or funeral for Toronto’s far too many murders but I have seen Spider Jones and John Tory.