The day after the 2015 Paris terror attacks, twenty-eight-year-old Canadian Jamil Jivani opened the newspaper to find that the men responsible were familiar to him. He didn’t know them, but the communities they grew up in and the challenges they faced mirrored the circumstances of his own life.
Jivani was raised in a mostly immigrant community in Toronto that faced significant problems with integration. Having grown up a black man with a largely absent father and a general distrust of the police and systems around him, he knows what it is to watch a man’s future influenced by gangster culture or radical ideologies associated with Islam.
He broke the pattern and has devoted his life to studying and working in the area of issues affecting youth, immigrants and low-income families. Jamil is now a law professor.
His book, Why Young Men is not just a powerful and beautifully written non-fiction narrative book, it’s a book of ideas that pursues a positive path and offers a counterintuitive, often provocative argument for a sea change in the way we look at young men, and for how they see themselves.
Photo credit: Wim Van Cappellen