In Response to the London Riots (expanded)


When I heard about the London Riots, I can't say I was hugely surprised, but I was really struck by the news.  I couldn't help but think a lot about the youth there, and all over really, all week. The track here is my emotional/musical response. I have to note that this isn't a song with lyrics, this isn't about me at all. It's about voices of the oppressed. Voices being ignored and interrupted by politics, media, academia and calculated poverty...

I hope you read on, but if you're a lil' too ADD for all that, here's the track now.

In Response to the London Riots by SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE

A couple of things that I find most disturbing:

  • How people talk about the rioters (rats, animals; ie, a tone of disgust, disdain,etc)
These people are not animals. They may not be protesting, but don't be confused; this is a socio-political, race and class issue. They're not protesting, they're EX/IMPLODING. However you think of yourself, if you refer to these people as animals, you're putting yourself on one side of a war of race and class.

What people are doing in London is wrong, HOWEVER, you need to be aware of the political and social pressures applied to people of the inner city. This is what happens when governments work for the rich and conscientiously let people fall (or force people down) through the cracks. There's no condoning violent, destructive behavior, but this is what happens when whole communities know what society neglects so well.

  • The clear line between inner city gang activity and violence and the attack on resources for youth programming and education.
Alexandera Topper wrote in the in an article about the rise of crime in poor neighborhoods and the consistent budgets cuts in youth programming in poor neighborhoods, "...a perfect storm of unemployment, the withdrawal of the Education Maintenance Allowance and a squeeze on programmes to help disadvantaged youths could bring more than just a rise in crime figures and result in a "lost generation". Read that article here

There's this idea about death by a thousand cuts and how oppression, racism and classism work on subtle levels to break people down. Social Justice Educators talk about it in the conversation of "intent vs. impact", with people they're encouraging to consider the ramifications of using language that can be taken as offensive, whether they mean to offend anyone or not. Thinking along those lines, I think there's something to be said about explosion by a slow boil. If you look at the cuts in youth programming and education funds for under privileged youth in the UK, you'd find a major decline over the years and even find out about a lot of protests by students to try and counteract those cuts. You'd find students talking about how them and their friends are prone to find trouble in the streets when there's not a youth center near by, not because they're looking to get into something foul, but because more and more, that's what's available to them without resources in their community. We're not just talking about lack of jobs, we're talking about obvious resources being taken out of communities where these after school programs and the like are the last strong holds for youth who are hanging on by a thread.

  • How clueless the media at large plays at the cause of these events.
There's a great video of an older man speaking to a newscaster about the youth in the neighborhoods where the riots started, and he's making a point about how the youth are continually abused and harassed by police in poor neighborhoods, just to be cut off with the most ignorant conclusion that he is "condoning" the behavior of the rioters. In fact, every time he makes a strong point, he is cut off by the newscaster. He's pointing out that this whole thing started with a young man being shot in the head by police several yards from his own home. The woman from BBC news even goes so far as to blatantly try to DISCREDIT him by alluding to his involvement in riots in the past (which were actually peaceful protests). This is an educated man, a writer and broadcaster. Check out the video below.

It seems we're all so above what's happening in these neighborhoods in London and that we won't tolerate this type of behavior. I have to ask, what of the part we play in condoning the behavior of our political system? Our vast gaps in what's socially acceptable in well to do neighborhoods and those of the underprivelaged? Can you really believe that the people who end up rioting like this feel like they have real opportunity where they come from? Do you think they're on an even playing field? Do you think they feel like they have a choice in the paths of their lives? Do you think that if they did, there would still be a wave of riots across a good part of a country? I'd emphatically question the merit of any sociologist or psychologist who would tell you that the stress of living in poor communities doesn't weigh into this sort of event.

Needless to say, hearing about this was really unsettling for me. I think the US might be right around the corner of this type of activity. It's scary, and I know that it's directly connected to the way we treat youth in poor neighborhoods, and the poor in general, of course. From the schools, roads, businesses to...everything really. I initially put this song up right when it was done before I had the chance to write more about my reaction to the riots and to the people talking about it. I do feel like the song speaks for itself, but there was a lot in there I wanted to unpack for folks and really bring to the foreground.

I have to end with one more thought, to keep things in perspective.
Because of the conditions we face in these communities, we need more than ever to look for assets and inspire hope as a real tool to improve on our situation. I do not by any means wish to project an air of hopelessness at what's going on in London or the United States or anywhere there is a lack of traditional or Government supplied resources. We have, coursing beneath the surface, an infinite supply of ingenuity and heart that just needs to be tapped into. It has to start with hope. If we can't hope, we'll never know our potential. We'll never give our selves the chance, because what does it matter anyway? What can I ever really change? With hope comes a will to imagine what change we can really take part of.

I know this was a bit long and kind of tangential, but I really needed to put down how I feel about all this, to put another voice in the chorus of those sticking up for oppressed people all over the world. I hope you get something out of it.

With love to all in the struggle,



admc deadsea bwp said...

thanks for taking the time to put this in the air.its a good read..with corporate media bombarding us with half truths or outright lies and clearly trying to sway the masses in one direction or the other,i applaud any man,women,or child that takes the role of the reporter and reports the real story..thanks again..

Post a Comment