by Candice Carboo-Ofulue @Candaloo
Is it just me, or does anyone else feel that we need to refresh the debate on black-on-black gun crime? Yes, the media are still salivating over stories of “shootings” and “gangsters”, but it seems that the Government has left the building. Meanwhile cases such as Nathan Harris; a teenager sentenced to 16 years in prison for ordering the shooting of 20 year old Craig Brown saturate the media. Except, what I didn’t see anywhere in all of the coverage of this heartbreaking story was anyone asking why. Why has a teenage boy taken this track in life? Why does a teenage boy know how to get his hands on a gun? Why do we have a lynch mob style “death by reputation” media inquest, instead of having real solutions put in place to prevent this happening again? Why has this issue slipped down the political agenda? Now, more than ever we need to tread those murky waters of “underachievement”, joblessness and poor housing.
Recently, the only noise around this issue is that being created by the tabloids spitting stories of “gangsters” and “villains” infesting our streets. Like the Medieval morality plays, these stories have no intention of raising debate; they are designed to instill fear, entrench stereotypes and ultimately sell papers. And of course, there is also the unmistakable sound of the police cracking down. Meanwhile, black boys slide deeper into the abyss of gangs, guns and violence.
To a large extent, gun crime has traditionally been linked to the seedy world of drug dealers. However, the uncomfortable truth now is that gun crime is spreading its tentacles beyond drugs. Turning black youth culture into a delinquent sub-culture. What morals and values are we instilling in our youth? Our most recent attempts to engage, mostly driven by the media I should add, have sucked us into discussions of “callousness” and “gangsterism”. Unfortunately, this type of analysis uproots solutions from the social realm and drops them into some of kind of fantasy world made up of good guys and bad guys. Unfortunately life is not that simple. Call me cynical but is this not just a deliberate attempt to ignore our societal responsibilities? I wonder.
What is the basis for our unwillingness or inability to address the problems? Or is it that we’re just unable to understand? What is perhaps unsettling for some is that when we start to analyse the human behind the monster, we discover that his desires and aspirations are not that different from "our" own. Success, power, affluence – these are considered normal aspirations. So as the fog of fear begins to clear, what we see is a parallel sub-culture, with a unique set of skills and values. In this world violence and guns are normal methods of achieving respect and success. Here, the “gangster” is functional, entrepreneurial, likeable. Could this be an alternative society that accepts those rejected by the mainstream?
Oh, and before anyone starts on about rap music providing unsavoury role models again, please don’t. Instead, perhaps we should be looking closer to home before casting blame elsewhere. Let’s talk about why our young black boys are so poorly equipped emotionally to be able to deal with anger and frustration? Where are their vocational or intellectual skills to access society? How do we broaden their horizons?
Last week, as most of us were sucked into the frenzy around Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time, the news that the Metropolitan Police plans to deploy armed police units to patrol estates in Tottenham, Lambeth and Haringey slipped surreptitiously into the BBC evening news. This, they said, was to “proactively respond to the increase in gun crime" and is only a “temporary” measure. Hmmm, when did the definition of proactive include a semi-automatic weapon?
I’m no expert but this will probably result in more arrests, increased marginalisation and evidently more shootings. Come on people, let’s start talking before the Government commissions Brazilian style death squads to clean our streets.
There is a big blue elephant in the room, and he’s angry and holding a gun.