Whitney may have had her demons, but back in the day she knew how to belt out a ballad.
That said this blog post has nothing to do with 80’s songs or pop diva’s.
It does however have everything to do with children, riots, the media, music, prejudice, Plan B, 60 million ideas, Jamie Oliver and finally YOU.
Children, the Media and Riots
Each generation of children in this country seems to be getting worse and worse right?
Well actually no, I would like to challenge that notion.
One thing I cannot dispute is that violence amoung children in this country does appear to be on the rise but is this some thing new or merely a symptom of a bigger issue that has been decades in the making?
There has always been gang culture in this country from the days of mods and rockers. Huge running battles were fought in Clacton, Margate, Brighton and other venues and people were badly hurt.
Compare this with the recent riots in London and although there are marked differences the level of violence was pretty similar.
So are kids to be feared these days? Should we all be scared when a group of kids walks towards us on the street?
Simply put, No.
There is a real demonisation of the youth in this country and it’s lead by the headline hungry Media.
Kids have always roamed the streets in groups this is nothing new, we did it when I was a kid. The only reason it now seems intimidating to people is that the media take single incidents of violent behavior and apply the stigma to ALL kids.
Well actually no that’s not quite right, all kids from deprived areas. They certainly don’t bang on about the Cambridge College Crew.
If you don’t believe there is a problem with the way children are portrayed in the media then please take the time to watch this lecture by Ben Drew (AKA Plan B).
Interesting? or just a foul mouthed “Chav” making excuses?
Personally I’m with Ben on this one.
As Ben says in his lecture the term “Chav” is used so liberally in the media that it’s now seen to be common place. Then again so was the term “Nigger” about 60-70 years ago. Should we go back to using that? In case there’s any doubt that was a rhetorical question. No we shouldn’t, and we also shouldn’t use “Chav”.
People have to label things, it’s in our nature and it’s one of the worst aspects of our society as a whole. Living without labels would be a wonderous thing. Imagine: no Chavs, no Nerds, no Chinks, no Pakis, no Homos, no Dykes, no Bitches, no Hoes, no Niggers, no Crackers.
Not likely to happen I know but I can dream right?
Also while we’re on the subject of labels: What the hell is up with the term “Underclass“???
When I was a kid there were the working class, the middle class and the upper class. This in itself was seen by those with social conscience as an issue. Yet now we feel the need to create an Underclass?
Calling people working class still held some sort of positive spin, at least they are working for a living right? Oh, they can’t get a job? let’s give them another label then hey how about Underclass, can’t get much lower than that right?
The Riots were caused by a single sad incident where a young man lost his life, which then escalated into the built up frustration of an entire generation of disenfranchised kids going after the very things that our materialistic world dictates to be the measure of success.
So should they be punished?
Hell yes they should be punished. They made the decision to go down that route however bad their situation was stealing flat screen TV’s was not going to solve it. It could only ever make things worse.
The problem is they don’t care.
Why they don’t care should be the real discussion point not the fact that these violent “Chavs” went on the rampage.
They don’t care because society deems them as being below standard. That word again: Underclass. If you continually tell someone that they are not worth it, eventually they will believe it. If at every turn they are looked at and told you’re not good enough because they come from a council estate or a broken home then how would you react?
You cannot honestly say unless you have been there.
They also see millionaire bankers raping the British economy and going unpunished. Hell, they see them being PAID for screwing up our financial systems!! How are they supposed to respect a society that treats bankers that take millions with a pat on the back, and them with 6 months in jail for stealing trainers?
I was lucky enough to grow up in a loving family. Don’t get me wrong we’ve never been the wealthiest bunch of people but we got by and my parents worked to get to a better place in life. anywhere is better than having bailiffs at the door right?
When I was young I knew good kids and troubled kids alike and I strayed (generally) towards the good kids, but believe me I’ve known some toerags in my time.
Are they any less of a person because society and situation have caused them to live hand to mouth, sometimes doing things they probably shouldn’t to survive?
Now there will always be those happy to play the benefits system and not work. Problem is they then teach their children to do the same and the problem continues.
Until someone says to these kids “hey you know what yes you can get a job and I’m willing to give you the chance” how can we ever break the cycle?
Plan B, 60 Million Ideas & Jamie Oliver
This is where these guys come into it.
Plan B has just released the track Ill Manors and has stirred up some controversy. If you have already watched his TEDx lecture above then you will have seen a snippet of this. Here’s the full video though, even if it’s not your cup of tea try to hear what he is saying…
The final lyrics from this track are like so:
We’ve had it with you politicians
you bloody rich kids never listen
There’s no such thing as broken Britain we’re just bloody broke in Britain
What needs fixing is the system
not shop windows down in Brixton Riots on the television
you can’t put us all in prison!
Ben Drew (@4PlanB) knew that before people would listen to what he had to say about society and it’s ills, he needed them on side. He knew that he had to play the game and make an album (allbeit a wonderful one) that would attract the masses so he could then be the person he wanted to be and have people take note.
Off the back of his new album and film he is looking to set up an umbrella charity to help get these kids back into society. Give them a reason to belong and a reason to work.
Jamie Oliver (@jamieoliver) has for years now taken kids off the street and given them the chance to become chefs through the Fifteen restaurants. He is passionate about helping kids and getting kids eating better, cooking and making something of themselves.
60 Million Ideas (@60MillionIdeas) are a couple of local guys who decided they were fed up of seeing the word go to hell in a hand cart and so they started to try and bring about change through social media. One idea in particular was CurriculumGB whereby they wanted people to use social media to comment on how the school system should be changed to help all our children leave school with a much better idea of the world around them and what to expect.
All these people share something: They do this out of Love. They don’t do it to make money, they do it because they genuinely care about our society and our kids. They don’t write people off because of how they look or where they come from. They embrace all people equally and let them stand on their own merits.
I hope one day to be like that too. With 3 kids and a mortgage to contend with, right now, I have to concentrate on my family and getting us through the current financial climate. One day though.
I have only outlined three specific instances here and there are people out there doing work like this all the time, but they face an uphill struggle without the backing of people like Ben and Jamie who carry the clout they need to get their messages heard.
Going back to the 60 million ideas guys, I love their slogan, “Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something!” – how true is that?
Thinking along the lines of the slogan I just mentioned:
What one thing can you do to improve our society?
What one thing can you do to change the life of a young person less fortunate than you?
I know one thing you can do, never use the word “Chav” again (assuming you have).
I have in the past and now when I look back I feel like an idiot for being sucked in by the media vortex of prejudice and loathing.
Can you do more than that?
Can you offer maybe training to kids who can’t afford college?
Can you take the time to help out at a youth centre (if you can find one open)?
Can you fund the opening of one in your area?
Or should the question actually be Will you?
Only you know.
Since I wrote this and before I finished editing it The Riots, Communities and Victims Panel published their report: 5 Days in August, an interim report on the 2011 English riots. A lot of what they say supports my views that the kids are disenfranchised and need direction. Let’s hope it doesn’t just make a little noise for a few days and then disappear like many others have.