What Killed Jane Creba: Rap, Race, and the Invention of a Gang War

Anita Arvast. Dundurn (IPS, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $18.99 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-4597-3506-4
Arvast, a cultural studies professor at Ontario's Georgian College, explores the repercussions of an infamous Boxing Day 2005 killing of a teenaged white girl, which she concludes was a tragic result of some macho posturing but not the gang war that Toronto police and media claimed. The black male suspects are usually dismissed as gangsters and thugs, but she provides refreshing, fully developed portraits of them and their world, a desperate place of poverty, harassment, drugs, foster care, violence, and jail. There are few avenues of escape, other than sports excellence and rap. Arvast's examination of the music, which can both reflect a bleak existence and project a generation's hopes, provides insight into a cultural backdrop that remains largely misunderstood or denigrated by mainstream media. All the men who were charged but not convicted—and who languished in jail for four years—were aspiring artists. Arvast is stylistically awkward at times, shifting from analysis and reportage to street slang that, while making a point, comes across as awkward and self-consciously hip. But her cri de coeur is an important reminder of racial double standards still driving crime coverage and the perceptions of black men in Canada. (July)
Reviewed on: 10/03/2016
Release date: 06/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
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