Rise / Don’t Hate Just Appreciate is simply one of the best videos of this type that I have seen to date. It shows all of the challenges and expresses all of the tribulations and speaks to the ugly realities of growing up poor in a low-income neighbourhood where everything has been taken away from you in terms of social programs, after school activities, organized sports and children are left to the mercies of gangs and the things that gangs do. It is a cry for help from innocence trapped in a war zone where police enter after the fact to pick up the innocent dead as well as the guilty dead. The population is made up of 90% good people who are trapped in with the 10% gang banger bad who force, or entice their good children to do bad things and then kill them when they try to leave, or when they owe money they can not pay. These youngsters who made this video are asking you to help them rise above this tragedy and not to hate them for being poor and simply for living where they live, but to appreciate all that they are going through and have to live though each and every day. They are screaming out for our help, pleading for a chance to live without having to fear death every single day, begging you to just see them and not hate them on sight for things that were not in their control and they are forced to live with, not chose to live with. Do not take my word for it watch the Video.
When my Auntie Terry wrote to me today and told me that her son, my cousin took part and actually played the harmonica in this video, (Rise / Don’t Hate Just Appreciate – YouTube) I decide to go take a look. This is video takes place in my old stomping grounds, where once there were 2 community centers and a public swimming pool serving the children and offering the kids things to do as an alternative to hanging on the streets and getting into trouble.
Tyndale was one such place and I am happy to say is still there with a lot of its old programs still in place. I was fortunate to be able to hold my family reunion reception there and was able to relive some of the old memories I had of going to this place of learning; this place where a child could go to watch a movie after school, become a boy scout, or girl guide. I went to Tyndale and was a cub scout. I was very proud that I earned every badge and ended up with 3 stars on my cub cap. I also went there to watch the movies because my family was too poor to afford to waste the big money they asked for in the theaters, so I like most of the kids in the community sat in the gym at Tyndale and watched old movies for an hour and for that hour forgot our hardships and our everyday problems and were transported to another time and place. This neighbourhood community center is still serving its community with all of its old services and a lot of new ones still today and I think embodies what this videos message is all about.
The Negro Community Center is less than 500 feet from where this video is being shot and I am sad to say is nothing more than memories for me now a run down, ready to fall down building. A place where children like myself went for after school activities during the week, could get tutoring, went for hot lunch every week day, took piano and dance lessons every Saturday for 50 cents and learned to be part of a team playing organized sports like hockey and basketball. You could also go there for free legal advice, which was a big help when you ran into trouble with landlords, welfare and the police but like most people in the community could not afford a lawyer. For over 10 years now every level of government has promised to help rebuild this center at election time and used the people of this community to get themselves elected then reneged on their promise. The Negro Community Center in its day exemplified what this video was talking about and its present condition makes it clear that neither the federal government, the provincial government or the civic government have any idea what this video is all about, or what communities like this one are in need of, or maybe all of these levels of government just do not care.
These were places where people knew your family and were giving back often volunteering their time and expertise just to be giving back and trying to help the young people stay out of trouble, learn a skill that they could not afford otherwise. In Tyndale Mr. and Mrs. Butt stick out in my mind because they ran the Boy Scouts program and were such a joyous memory for me. I knew their children we went to school together, but I knew little else about the Butts, but when I watched this video they popped into my head. Mrs. Olga Spenser who volunteered for many years teaching dance at the Negro Community Center was another, Mrs. Sweeney who volunteered teaching piano at the Negro Community Center was another along with a list that could go on forever, but I would be so remiss if I did not mention Mr. And Mrs. Clyke and Mrs. Griffith who administered the everyday operations of the Negro Community Center and without whom this great place could not have functioned and let us not forget those lovely ladies of the kitchen who worked tirelessly to see that us poor children of the community were fed lunch and sent back to school within an hour. Thank you Mrs. Mackenzie and Mrs. Brown and all of the other volunteers whose names are now lost to me. It is these people who come to mind when I listen and watch this video.
There is also a young lady who I had the pleasure of growing up with in this community, who gave back to this community in a positive manner. This lady used to work in the same bank as me and when I left she was still there. One day I was walking through my old stomping grounds and saw an old friend of the family standing outside of what looked like a storefront. I stopped to talk to him and he told me he was taking computer lessons so that he could find a job and that this place and the people in it were helping him. To my surprise the person coming out to remind him that the class was starting was Rosie Segee, Employment Coordinator in our Adult Development Program (Little Burgundy Employment Centre). I never saw her again, but understand that she has served her community in such a positive way that she was recognized by people and nominated for and won the Canada’s Citizenship Award. I was and am so proud of her for her contribution to our community and so she also comes to mind when I see this video and listen to its message. Then I look at the credits and see that her hand was definitely in this pot and I am proud to have known her all over again.
It is not good enough to listen to this video, to watch it and feel sorry for the people who live in this area, because they do not want your sympathy they want your help. Help to stop the hurting and the suffering that happens here everyday. These people who are part of this video are asking for help to end the senseless violence and death that have become too common place in a world where kids are killing kids and parks are no longer used for play. We need more heroes like the ones I mentioned out of my past and the young ones now working tirelessly and selflessly that I have mentioned like Rosie Segee. We need places that serve our community and offer services that we need at prices we can afford, not the sterile pay or you can’t play ones that we now see offered on Notre Dame Street, with no connection to the community except for the fact that the building is sort of in it, where you are just another membership and nothing more.
This was one of the most touching videos that I have seen in a long time. Please pass out the link after you have watched this video. The people who took part in the making of this video are trying to do something worthwhile and I think their message is a good one and is in need of each and every one of our support. Great job all of you, you have done yourselves proud and your community a great service and I thank you.