By Kosalan Kathiramalanathan
First year in university is a special time in your life. The first few weeks usually end up determining who you’re going to be hanging out with for the rest of your time here. I remember going through the process of finding my little clique, getting to know them. Sitting with them in class everything was fine.
Then it happened.
It started out simply in an 8 a.m. class, back when I still attended them. My new friend Aidan made some comment that I agreed with and out of reflex I simply replied to him, “Ahlie, fam.”
There was a look of shock and confusion on his face. “Why’d you say that?” he asked. The phrase identified me, someone who doesn’t seem like a typical “Scarborough” mans, as one of them. Since then the label of “Scarborough Mans” has come with a variety of feelings attached to it. On one hand there’s plenty of praise and comradery, and on the other hand, a ton of negative connotations.
The history of the “Scarborough Mans” is a long one. Historically, the place itself has a reputation of being desolated or a den of crime, as the monikers “Scarlem” and “Scarberia” suggest. But its images really didn’t pick up until recently when Drake began to put the city on the map. It didn’t just stop there. Suddenly, the culture of Scarborough exploded onto the scene. Its diverse tastes, its music and the Patois-rooted slang suddenly became popular and a staple of the city.
While all that may be true within the Scarborough community, here at Ryerson it’s less so. Being a commuter school in the heart of downtown, Ryerson draws from plenty of different neighbourhoods within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Despite this, being from Scarborough specifically has come with a label that’s been the butt of many jokes. “Being from Scarborough” didn’t just mean you are from a place, it becomes a demeanour. You’re expected to behave a certain way, more so if you’re identified as being Black or a Person of Colour. Even with that reputation, people from Scarborough have found solace in having some sort of shared identity.
“There’s definitely a change of how I interact with people the minute I know where they’re from,” said Aidan Lising, the same friend I had met back in first year who I found out also happened to be from Scarborough. “If someone were from Scarborough you’d be like ‘Yea, saying you’re from the ends?’”
When faced with the jokes and the expectations from people on the outside, people from Scarborough have embraced it and it’s become a source of pride.
“You know all the tendencies, you know the stereotypes, you know the jokes of Scarborough. It’s all like an inside joke,” said Lising. “And the moment you figure out someone is from Scarborough you’re like ‘Okay cool, you’re also a part of it’.”