Take a journey with Vidal Chavannes through the black community in his book DETOX

Photo by Euvilla Thomas

Peter, a Durham College student reads an excerpt in the book Detox .

Trump once tweeted statistics that show 97 per cent of black people are killed by other blacks. Things like these are so often echoed in the media. Young black men and women are placed in boxes.

Guns, foul language and naked dancing are commonly associated with black youth in North America. Vidal Chavannes’ book, Detox, takes us on a journey through the black community in Toronto. Chavannes explores the music, media and parenting styles. The book analyzes how black kids engage in a lifestyle of guns, foul language and naked dancing, none of which has a positive end.

Chavannes explains the psychology behind issues rooted deep within the community. Detox not only provides insights, Chavannes delivers these in his own voice. These are stories not being told in the media.

Chavannes starts his story with 4 different incidents of young black men killed by other black men. In his book, Chavannes says black people are not just killing themselves, they are manipulated by a culture which promotes violence and nudity. This, he says, is the sad reality destroying the black community.

In a chapter called “Keeping It Real,” Chavannes writes, “Unfortunately, where once hip hop was a political vehicle for change, an outward expression of the anger and angst that lay under the surface of the urban centers of America, the music is now often wrapped up in a gangster drama played out on real streets by real kids who end up dead and in prison.” Black youth who look up to this music, says Chavannes, do not receive positive messages.

For Chavannes, education and analysis is needed for positive messages.

Vidal Chavannes was the manager of Program Development and Quality Initiatives at Durham College, responsible for developing new academic programs across schools. He was also a professor at the post-secondary level. He has created course outlines and training manuals for different organizations. His background has helped him assemble some thoughtful analysis of the situations the black community faces.

Chavannes was able to take his background and understanding of the community and bring an engaging and controversial interpretation of black youths in his book. This analysis is evident in Detox.

Detox describes the author’s journey. Chavannes attempts to avoid the stereotypes, while living with the pain it causes him to look at his community and watch his people go down a path that is both physically and mentally harmful.

In his book, Chavannes says the problems black kids suffer from are not society’s fault. He says today’s parenting style plays a big role. One of the problems, he says, is parents; they are not successfully communicating with their children.

In the chapter “We Reap What We Sow,” Chavannes writes about a sad conversation he had with the parent of one of his students.

“She said her daughter was a budding entrepreneur,” Chavannes documents of a woman’s communication with her 14-year-old daughter. “Sometimes she will come home with four or five new iPods and a whole pile of brand-new clothes.” Chavannes said this statement left him with his mouth hanging open. He realized this mother was okay with her young daughter coming home with merchandise and would not question where it came from or discipline her. To him this was not only wrong but unbelievable.

With today’s parenting style in mind, Chavannes says the lack of responsibility is within the household.

Detox, is Chavannes’ way of expressing his perception of the black community through his eyes and how culture and parenting influences the lives of black youth.

Chavannes is an activist, a consultant and a motivational speaker. Detox is a must- read not only for the black community but for people who want to understand the darkness and trauma that comes with being black.

Take a walk with Chavannes on his journey through the black community and be inspired to see black youths beyond the stereotypical boxes of guns, violence and foul language.

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This is Euvilla Thomas, she is a second year journalism student at Durham College. She writes about a wide range of subjects which includes Campus events, entertainment and educational stories for the Chronicle. She loves reading and writing short stories in her spare time. She hopes to cover news and music events at any broadcasting radio station. Currently she is writing for the Chronicle and producing short segments for the Chronicle Riot Radio show.