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Overground Online

UK Riots and Racism 2011

In the week following Mark Duggun’s death, nationwide riots and David Starkey’s claim that blacks have become chavs and whites have become black (watch the video below), youth worker and eye witness to the Tottenham disturbance Anthony Boye examines the aftermath.

Thankfully, due to modern technology it is possible to undoubtedly prove that the people who took part in the nationwide riots were from all backgrounds: black, white, Asian and everything in-between.

So this raises the question: Why have these events been reported subtlety, or at times blatantly, as a ‘black’ issue?

Although historian David Starkey has taken most of the flack for blaming the riots on black street culture, he wasn’t the only one.

During the Monday evening mayhem, a roving BBC News 24 reporter claimed the rioters were black, after being asked by the studio presenter: ‘What’s the makeup of the crowd’?

Similarly, two days later MP Dianne Abbott had to be reign in Michael Gove after the Education Secretary sneakily attempted to suggest the disruption was all about ‘black culture’.

If the truth be told, the media, MPs and lobbyists have been so good at perpetuating the myth, even some community activists and campaigners became convinced and directed their appeals for calm specifically at black youths.

All over the country, there are black and white people who have wasted little time in accepting these ‘uprisings’ as part of a ‘black issue’. But what about the thousands of black youths who weren’t involved in the riots (like they don’t have it tough already)?

Not surprisingly, the English Defence League (EDL) were ready to step in and lend the Enfield police a hand, prompting a statement from the Deputy Mayor of London Kit Malthouse who said it was ‘deeply undesirable’ to see EDL vigilantes in Enfield.

Let’s not kid ourselves in believing this is the fault of a particular ethnic, or even multicultural, community. The riots were simply a result of living in a society experiencing a shift in morals, scruples, codes of honour, culture, and the list goes on.

The word ‘respect’ no longer has any merit in the Western world, and while sociologists claim we’re simply experiencing Generation Y, ‘where millennium meets materialism’, I believe the reasons for this are manifold.

For years, many of us have been kidding ourselves; believing it doesn’t matter what TV programmes, music and computer games we allow our children to be exposed to at home. The sentiment is: If it makes money, then it’s ok.

Really, I ask you, is it ok to have a bus travelling through Tottenham with a huge, full-colour advertisement for Grand Theft Auto? I suppose it is, if you’re sitting on the board of directors at Arriva.

Organisations and campaigners fight to keep youth centres open, but would you really want to live next door to one? Unfortunately, in recent years, many of these youth clubs have become hotspots for trouble, and we wonder why?

Ponder this: just because we stamp an 18 certificate or some other parental guidance warning on DVDs, music videos and computer games, does that make it ok for these products to be pumped into millions of households?

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but these young people are a product of this society; our society, irrespective of skin colour.

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