Telling our stories

By ARNOLD AUGUSTE

Every once in a while, we at Share pause to reflect on what we do, how we do it and what we can do better.

Are we serving our readers properly? Are we providing the kind of coverage of our community that makes a difference? Is what we do enough?

On that last point, it is never enough, but the real question becomes: Are we doing as much and as well as we can, given our limited resources?

A column by the Toronto Star’s Royson James last weekend served to remind us of the value of what we do and our purpose for doing it.

James wrote of some of the positive things happening in our community and suggested that, while most of the news about us in the mainstream media is negative, there is so much more that is positive which never gets noticed.

In his column in last Saturday’s Star, “We can’t let an image eclipse reality”, James writes: “It is at funerals and charity balls and church programs and award ceremonies that the disconnect between image and reality in Toronto’s Black community pops most sharply into focus.

“The image is of a lawless bunch marked by numbing weekend headlines of another shooting death. The reality resides in a parallel universe: the hidden, productive, often heroic existence lived by the overwhelming majority of Black citizens.”

And, that is the problem with mainstream media as they relate to our community.

Of course, we don’t expect them – nor should we – to cover all of the positive events in our community. It would be nice though if they did more than just crime and the one or two events that they consider major.

What we need is balance.

When those who are exposed only to mainstream media are fed a steady diet of bad news from our community – of gang- and drug-related murders, for example – without the benefit of balance with news of the many (the majority of) young Black people who are succeeding, some against tremendous odds; the many who are going off to university or who are landing jobs in government, industry and commerce with excellent qualifications, how are they to know that the criminals are in the minority and that Blacks in this city are among some of the most productive and upwardly mobile of our citizens?

That’s why there is Share.

So, when we do question our role from time to time, it is good to have someone else point out – even inadvertently – the reason we exist.

It is not uncommon to hear young adults – and even the not so young – tell us with a sense of pride that they grew up reading Share. It is also heartening to hear from those who say, from time to time, that if there was no Share someone would have had to invent it.

Last week, it was with the greatest sense of satisfaction to have been able to announce both the appointment of Thando Hyman-Aman as principal of the new Africentric School and the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the African Canadian Heritage Association.

We watched this young lady grow up at the side of her activist parents who spent much of their lives serving in and working for our community. We observed the work of the ACHA for years as its members volunteered their Saturday afternoons week after week to teach Black children.

And they are not alone. There are so many people quietly going about their community-building work who very seldom get noticed or land up in the pages of the newspapers – even in Share. That is because publicity is not what they are about.

We are proud of them all. We know some of them and we feel blessed to be able to share the stories of so many of them with our readers each week.

More than that, it is an honour for us to be able to present, just about every week, the stories and photos of young people who are succeeding and making all of us proud.

So, the mainstream media may not be interested in our stories. They are not big and important enough – unless we go out and kill each other.

But, we are interested and the fact that we have been able to publish successfully for over 31 years tells us that you, our readers, get it. You know the value of what we do and the need for us to continue to do it. And we thank you.

Most of all, we thank all those who have made us proud over the years with their stories of success, achievement and sacrifice for the greater good and for the advancement of our community.

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