Samuel l Jackson hosted his annual shooting stars benefit ball at the Royal Courts of Justice which had requested a Black Tie for men and glamorous for women dress code ,which saw me roll up on a very long, busy stressful day in my car just as dinner was beginning in my ride with my ball gown from DOLCE & GABANNA in my boot. I had to slide myself into it in the front seat of my car and hope passers by didn’t grab a shot of any Dotiwala bodily parts and then had my friend race around to my side of the car to zip me in! Such class.
A champagne reception greeted us as we arrived along the red carpet at this very striking old location with centuries of historical content. I smiled as I noted all my favourite brands were sponsors from the Moet & Chandon bubbly, to the Virgin Atlantic flights that were up for auction, to the slick AUDI cars that were taxing guests around. Even better, the healthy athletic shoe maker Fit Flop were the main sponsor and so each guest was treated to a free pair of any Fit Flop shoe of their choice-and as these are pretty expensive I took full advantage. I was sat on the Adidas table which was clearly the most lively and fun as others from the top tables actually came and requested to be seated at our table midway through the dinner as their table had been very quiet and stuffy. They could probably hear us laughing as we had caught one of the Adidas team with a topless photo screen saver of London’s finest actor-Idris Elba that all the ladies were salivating over in a quite disturbing manner! With Idris topless and Desperate Housewives heartthrob Jesse Metcalfe at a table beside us there were ladies swooning all over the place, whilst the non-stop alcohol which was being poured by silver service waiters had the rest swooning. To complete the massive swoonfest we had a little two-step with the main man of the night –Samuel- after he hosted the live auction which raised lots of cash for young people that just wanted their final wishes granted. What an amazing cause!.
Next my pal actor, director and screen writer Noel Clarke invited me down to hayes to the film set where he was making his latest film STORAGE 24. It was fascinating to watch the making of film as opposed to the TV that i’m used to. The detail and patience required is second to none. I saw aliens flying around and blood and wounds everywhere whilst noel just sat back like a G and took it all in his very classic stride. I wish more young people could hear Noel speak- he can articulate opinions for the younger generation like no one else in our scene. He has respect, talent and a following of thousands- politicians get him on board whilst you still can!.
What can I say about the Riots that hasn’t already been said. Probably not much as I’ve already tweeted like a mad woman this past week. I work in a news department. This means I speak to and empathise with a diverse range of people and their differing opinions.
So many divided opinions from all, so many lives affected. So many causes set back. So much worse to come now that we have to all pay for the clean up and have even less in our local communities to enhance our lives. As predicted the lazy cries of the press wanting to blame music and hip-hop came thick and fast.
DJ Semtex shot back ‘’rappers talk about the negative because we live with it. Get rid of the negative and it wont get rapped about. If we didn’t have hip-hop, if we didn’t have this form of self-expression, this mirror that reflects society, things would have happened years ago, and the situation would be a lot worse’’.
Arts impresario Ekow Eshun stated ‘’the violence is appalling but we only risk its repetition by failing to look at this as major social breakdown not just lawless thuggery’’.
South London rapper Giggs spoke out ‘’My Prayers go out to the people affected by the Riots, and the attacks on innocent people needs to stop’’
Should we blame hip-hop for thieving MP’s? Paedophiles’? Mass murderers? I listened to NWA, and watched shoot em up westerns throughout my childhood-it didn’t make me riot and loot. I also had free education, a youth club and activities after school and lived in a world full of hope where parents were allowed to reprimand me and I was frightened of disrespecting my teachers. This is the chickens come home to roost.
The government took away parents and teachers rights to be authoritive. Nowadays the reality is that there are kids threatening to call the police on their parents and threatening them with social services!?. Taking away parental power was the beginning of the end. That made kids rude. Then you cut all education, ignored poverty, pretended that postcode gang wars didn’t exist and let them get on with it. This made them frustrated. You said our country is in debt, cuts need to be made but you took it from the poor and left them with nothing whilst the rich got richer and bankers got bailed out-with pay rises. Now they are bored and idle and see that crime pays. You know what they say about the devil making work for idle hands.
You told people that if they were unhappy about society then we had the freedom to peacefully protest and our opinions would be heard. We peacefully protected in our millions about the Iraq war. We were ignored. Thousands peacefully protested about black people dying in police custody. They were ignored. Now we are angry, frustrated and bored with no pride in our area, ourselves or a stake in society. Why wouldn’t people lash out?
Yet there are also a whole generation of young people who have a huge sense of entitlement of what society owes them that is so laughable its ridiculous. We all helped ourselves. We too had single mothers and were poor. We worked hard and earned money and that’s just not how life works. We saw our parents go to work so we grew up with a work ethic-the new generation see their parents claiming benefits-is it any wonder they’re minds are screwed up!!? This mind set is inherited and handed down. We bombard youth with adverts for status symbols making them feel irelavent unless theyre blinged up-why is this looting such a shock?
The press are messed up. They have a responsibility to report the TRUTH. We clearly saw the live TV footage show a mixed bag of cross sections of the public looting, but the next days papers show just pics of young black men. How is that fair news reporting? Are we surprised that the Daily Mail point of view exists?
Doesn’t this underline the unspoken fear of black males always being seen as sexually aggressive, angry, studs? The best reporter in the country for print press was Paul Lewis with his honest tweets and daily blogs at THE GUARDIAN telling the real story. Similarly Sangat TV- a Birmingham, Sikh TV station saw a fearless young Asian reporter, Upinder Randhawa in the depth of the action chattering away-it was mesmerising.
Young gangs in postcode and area wars have been fighting and killing each other for years. The media made a big deal about it for a minute a few years back but now the kids are just left to kill each other- this week alone yet more young men are stabbing each other to death. Now that it’s affected commercial business and the wider community are involved its come to the forefront again. Alas-this has been the best advert that the racist BNP and EDL party’s need. Nick Griffin must be laughing in his whiter than white bubble bath.
The government need to invest in our young people in a better manner. Let me give you examples from my own life.
At my time as head of production at MTV BASE, I was privy to numerous meetings over the years where central government wanted to do something to put across anti knife crime messages. Instead of ever taking up any of my proactive ideas that would’ve actually taken groups of young people off the streets and given them new hope, all they wanted to do was a PR exercise where they paid MTV for advert time and editorial to show that THEY were to be SEEN as encouraging positive messages but not ACTUALLY investing in any change.
So of course the ad’s are on air and the politicians are seen to care but the message reaches no-one that really needs to hear it. That’s the extent of their reach.
There were a multitude of talking heads rolled out to comment on the riots including articulate people like Nii from Bigga fish and Anne Diamond. Yes Anne diamond!.wtf!?
As one blogger said ‘’ Most of the people who will be writing, speaking and pontificating about the disorder this weekend have absolutely no idea what it is like to grow up in a community where there are no jobs, no space to live or move, and the police are on the streets stopping-and-searching you as you come home from school.’’
In one TV report, a young man in Tottenham was asked if rioting really achieved anything:
“Yes,” said the young man. “You wouldn’t be talking to me now if we didn’t riot, would you?Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you-all of you want to speakl to me now.”
I would actually argue that actually the message has been lost cos now they’re only seeing young black people looting for blingtastic materialistic goods. We’re brain washed by consumerism – they’re stealing status symbols. The governments cut benefits for those that can work- these people desperate now to keep up their ghetto superstar lifestyle want to go looting trainers, jeans and phones. At least they could’ve looted some bookstores to show they’re smart too? (You may have even learnt something!)
There’s been a simmering anger all over the UK’s cities-not just from young people in London –but from people from all areas and cultures. This has been bubbling for years. We have to focus on the lack of family structure in communities. Parents are now so out of touch with their kids. They’re actually trying harder to friend them. I regularly see kids rave with their mums and shop for similar clothes together. How can a parent demand respect if their child see’s them as an equal? Give back the power to parents and authority figures so they can command respect.
I spoke to a lady a while back who ”thankfully told me she loved MTV BASE and VIDEO GAMES for babysitting her kids most evenings as it keep them quiet and out of trouble to do her own thing” ? Guess what her kids are like?
Young people want to get rich quick-or die trying. And they want fame. Whilst part of me was glued to the TV riots mesmerised by the disaster movie shots in front of my eyes, the other half of me knew that whilst this 24 hour rolling news footage was exciting, it was also inciting the bad ones to do more and make themselves famous for a minute like the naughty school kid playing up in class to impress their peers in the same way.
Fame and notoriety plays a big part in a culture that’s grown up on mafia movies and Jay Z hustle songs. Adults aren’t even aware that there’s a whole underground world they’re unaware of that exists. But their kids ALL know about it. Gangs from different postcodes are threatening each other online on websites and going through with killings and post shank, boasting about their deed. If you type in the words ‘’Brixton’’ or ‘’Peckham’’ on spifftv.com’s search engine hundreds of videos that youth have uploaded of themselves masked and unmasked brandishing weapons appear. This is an immediate instant fame platform for gangs that want kudos amongst their peers. As a kid when I had a fight my street knew about it. Now these sites mean the country knows about it.
Compare that openly available material with MTV content.If you attempt to put MTV programmes onto YouTube it’s usually taken down within hours due to the disagreement on content rights between MTV/VIACOM and YouTube. Because MTV have bigwig lawyers their content won’t be available for free online and gets shut down. Why can’t City Hall hire big wig lawyers to put legislation in place that ensure tastemaker sites with influence aren’t allowed to host violent content like this? Site moderators should have to justify their content. Instead I know City Hall hire community leaders that are so out of touch with the youth and have such old-fashioned views they’d be better off advising Jesus and his disciples than modern day youth. I’ve sat in on and been privy to a few of these meetings-they are so off track its tragic. One recent one put into action a dance with celebrities to raise money for knife crime victims. No honestly. This is the reactive remedy that they think will help. How about being pro-active.
There’s a crisis of leadership in this country.We have no articulate, opinionated leaders within urban culture either. Most UK urban chart toppers are happy to tweet about their music all day long but many are ghost silent when asked to speak on things that matter to their audiences. If this riot had kicked off in the USA I have no doubt that leaders like Obama, Russell Simmons and Puffy would stand up, rally the troops, bring in the NATION OF ISLAM to try and diffuse the situation and make their voices heard correctly. I tried to think of one, very famous British face who the UK urban youth would listen to and that would be prepared to speak. I couldn’t think of one that had enough influence or articulation. Russell Simmons reached out last week to Estelle and Tim Westwood to try and help. How embarrassing that we need to be policed by Americans, as we can’t sort out our own problems? Only a Londoner knows what London’s going through. Years ago I had DefJam UK tell me they were bringing in an American to teach me and my peers how to sell UK URABAN music to the UK charts. They failed. Miserably. And snuck back to New York with their tails between their legs leaving the hopes and dreams of young Londoners they had signed up shattered and broken.
One blogger said ‘’People riot because they have spent their whole lives being told that they are good for nothing, and they realise that together they can do anything – literally, anything at all’’.
How ironic that the young people involved that usually wouldn’t dare step into each other post coded ‘’endz’’ were now putting that curfew on hold and uniting together for now against a common mutual enemy-the police. I wondered if subconsciously the young ones were relieved to be able to be one big happy ‘’family’’ gang together for once instead of having to look over their shoulder for each other. Maybe they thought it might lead to a long term bonding by uniting together against another external foe? Because lets face it-surely this must be what they want-right? Can you imagine how powerful these gangs of kids would be if they united for positive change? THey’d be unstoppable!
Also-how long can the police get away with their behaviour? So many black men have died in police custody but not one police officer is suspended? But recently a dog died due to being left in a police car that over heated and the dog died-the police man was immediately suspended? Are human black lives worth less than a dogs?
Could Mark Duggans family not have received better treatment and answers? You can never justify the riots or looting. They were wrong full stop. But you should be open minded enough to see why its been a boiling pot waiting to bubble over. There were people angry about Duggans death and police inaccuracies, there were people who were caught up trying to pilfer as much as they could and there were people who are so frustrated they want to fight and let their tension out whoever they hit-and to them the police are an easy and justifiable target.
The bottom line though is that there is no intelligent justification for the carnage that innocent people and their livelihoods have suffered, people have died!. Young boisterous men fuelled with testosterone ran the streets and now innocent people are dead.
There is no one solution to this. Its an iceberg effect where the riot marks the seen visible tip of the riots but underneath there have been layers of deep, thick issue that’s been building strongly for years. So instead of a simple solution of just punishment for the savagery, how about pro-active change in Britain’s moral society which is corrupt from high to low?