23 Feb 2009

UK Gangs

Coming back from DC in January I was at the airport bookshop and typing all of the bestsellers that caught my eye that I wanted to pick up on Amazon when I got back home to the UK. One was called Gang Leader For a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh. I think this will be my next read.
So I'm coming to the end of my E. Lynn Harris Novel, Anyway The Wind Blows, and need another read and think I will opt for the sociologists study about being a gang leader on the streets of Chicago. Whilst having a search on Amazon. I came across One Blood - Inside Britains New Street Gangs by John Heale.

I won't be getting this book as quite frankly as I've heard and seen enough of the BS on London streets at the hands of these ferrel youths, and the last thing I want to do is be reading about them. Times have changed in London and I'm tired of telling people who really do think this place is very safe, that it's not. I'm not doing any distinctive compare and contrasts, but please know that there is 7 times more crime in London than New York based on a 7 and 8 million population respectively. That should give you some idea. And check this link also to give you a vague idea or where we sit on the global crime rate scale. And as we sit very highly that means there are plenty of safer places to one day piss off to.
I don't care how many times you've visited, when you were last here or what you heard. If you're not here living in the city then you don't know. You simply don't know.

Pretty much every single person in my peer group wants out. Our days, not even 10 years ago were totally different to the kids these days. They are on a different level. It's not even about watching for that shady man who may rob you or even kill you. You have to watch out for these kids. I've seen teenage boys who really think they are of size, scoping my sneakers or watching my Blackberry or ipod on the train like they're ready to rob me. Trust me a young black boy will feel no way about killing another black person to get what they want. Why do you think I'm so aggressive? You have to ready to stand up for yourself and fight if need be living here. Somebody always wants to test you, and you have to be ready and waiting to protect you and yours.

These kids have their own identity now. Our generation was HEAVILY influenced by US culture. The UK now has it's own, centralised [in music especially] around the grime scene. These kids don't care about US hip-hop or R&B it's all about their beloved grime. More so than ever it seems urban culture in the UK and that encompasses all colours FOR ONCE since we've settled here have their own identity that can't be accused of biting their US counterparts.

I could go on and on about these kids, gangs, UK gang culture, the works. It's an extensive topical debate. And when me and the girls get together it's an issue. I turn on the news on occasion it's an issue. I turn on LBC and real people in London are debating calling in and talking about their own real experiences. Trust me, it's an issue.

So when I hear and see these ferrel kids, or have a teenage cousin of my own having already have done time before he turned 18, and read about how this one and that one is now dead and a statistic I get TIRED. People want to act like we live in a Shakespearean country all polite and saying hello to one another on a daily basis, having gentlemen holding the doors open for you and we walk on cobbled streets eating English muffins and drinking tea all bloody day. We drink bloody coffee too ya know. London is not short of a coffee shop or two. Those things are not going on. London is getting worse by the day, week and the month. NEVER would I raise a child here and I'm deadly serious about that. Some of my friends who have children [black boys] fear for them growing up here, you can see it in their eyes. I fear for my cousins I really do. He lives in one area and goes to another he says they're really not supposed to [All because they don't come from there]. So every time I hear a news bulletin I hold my breath until they name the victim. I've been doing this since Damilola Taylor. He was the same age when killed and went to school in Peckham. To this very day I remember making sure I saw a copy of the black boy on the Evening Standard newspaper just to make sure it wasn't my cousin after I saw the headline Peckham school boy, 10 stabbed to death.

And trust me don't let the size of these kids fool you. The smaller they are the more 'bad breed' they are.

So unless you're here living in London...
Reading the morning Metro, the free London Paper & London Lite taking in all the news stories.
Maybe even pay for an Evening Standard, tabloid or daily broadsheet.
Watch the national and local news.
Listen to talk radio and people phoning in talking about their experiences and the demise of London and the youth.
The countless documentaries about gang violence in this city and country.
And walking the streets on a daily basis

I don't wanna know what you hear from your Aunt Bessie telling you one news story from across the pond.

Every city has their fair share. London, Manchester and the like are on a different level than say the last decade. So much so it's a government issue, new laws on dealing with under-age offenders have been introduced, random stop and searches becoming more random.

People please don't pacify us and think it's all in our heads or not that bad. I think I'm well within my rights as a citizen of this country and city for nearly the past 30 years to know exactly what me, my colleagues, friends, and family are talking about.

I don't believe these issues in London will get better [I really don't. So either don't come here to live or find a place that is relatively safer than here]. Work toward getting out if that's what you choose and make a plan. You can't just pack up a suitcase and go about your business, some things need to be taken care of, you can't do a move in one fail swoop.

One more thing. The girls are apparently worse than the boys. So 'they' say.

Just Google 'UK gangs' or 'UK Gang Culture' and see if it's all in our heads. Because I'm tired of someone who lives here being told by people that don't, that it's not that bad. I can't take nonsense in my ears from folks trying to school me and mine on what we're living. That really becomes a serious kiss teeth moment for me.


  1. so true, its scary. a decade ago u would look out for the bigger boys but now, u can't even look a 9 year old in the eye cos he might pull out a blade or 9mm on you.

    Kids be running around with samurai sword these days, its appalling!

  2. I wrote this blog in the office and headed for the tube station. Tonight's Evening Standard Billboard headline.

    VIOLENT LONDON. I just shook my head having written about the very subject 10 minutes prior.


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