Is the character assassination of the young black male now being perpetuated with good intentions?

Such a bold and controversial question has been plaguing my mind over the last three years due to a number of events. Each time I do my best to repress it, however on this occasion the strength of it overtook me and I found myself here; documenting my thoughts hoping that this article will be thought provoking especially for those that have never questioned this before.

Let’s jump backwards to March 2011, a younger inquisitive me conquering my first book, knee deep in research. A typical commute on a train led my eyes to an advert pleading for mentors for ‘troubled’ young black men in London. Splashed across this insistent call was the face of Arsenal legend; Ian Wright. A well-known black man to promote this campaign hoping to recruit a thousand men willing to volunteer for this vital work.

Contextually this was when I was working on the chapter of my book on broken homes. I was intrigued by this advert, desperate for more information on the process and agenda of this campaign. I saw it as a golden opportunity to dig deeper and potentially use my skills to equip other young men for their future. I had experience; Team leader for The Crib Youth Project in Hoxton, Hackney I was accustomed to mentoring young people, building positive relationships and assisting them to reach their potential.

Although I was already embedded in mentoring a number of young people I wanted to make a change in other young people and as such I enthusiastically signed up to Boris Johnson’s mentoring scheme. A few months later I attended the launch of the scheme at the Epicentre in Leyton, East London. It was led by Ray Lewis, ambassador for the program and also Head of Eastside Academy (focused on helping young boys who have been excluded from mainstream education). I was unsettled. It became quickly apparent that the event was publicity centred; set to benefit the ‘founders’ more than the boys they claimed to help. Fingers were pointed, recognition was given, applause erupted, cameras flashed; what a ‘success’. The tokenistic nature of the event captured beautifully in the prize shot of Boris Johnson surrounded by 12 black boys. I was slightly irritated.

For two long years there was hardly any progression or forward movement of the scheme, no volunteers were being placed with at risk black boys. What a ‘success’!

Fast-forward to the present day; Hackney has decided to have a workshop dedicated to young black males.  My inbox celebrated with an invitation to participate in this ‘new’ initiative and my soul responded with the burning repetitive inquiry:

Is the character assassination of the young black male now being perpetuated with good intentions?

It wouldn’t be subdued, the heat of the flames continued to rise and I could no longer ignore it. I decided I would find out what their objectives are and hopes of their outcomes. These are the key areas they want to address:

  • Primary and secondary education transition

  • Incidents in secondary school and subsequent experience

  • Family, friendship groups and other support systems

  • Relationships with police, council and health services

  • Trying to get work

 The correlation of this ‘new’ program and Boris Johnson’s ‘new’ mentoring scheme was highlighted in their ultimate aims “saving the black male” and I wondered if I was alone in my interpretation. So I took it to the general public and asked them the focus of this article. Responses were varied and opinions interesting. Some didn’t understand the question so I rephrased it; Are these good intentions (i.e. mentoring scheme), which exclusively target young black males doing more bad than good?

 Initially 62% said yes and 38% said no. While my own opinions were strong I did not want to influence answers however through conversations the number of ‘no’ responses changed significantly.

Media representation of black males continues to reflect negative stereotypes on international scales. Newspapers are always quick to report criminal activities when related to black men, the large press coverage on incidences identified as ‘black on black’ crime. Praise seems limited to achievements in music or sport yet this is counter-attacked by the modern day coon caricatures black musicians are painted as. Even in film, Denzel Washington had to play a negative role in training day to win an Oscar; the same can be said for Forest Whittaker who played Idi Amin to get his glory. We are all aware of this type of character assassination but in this article I am talking specifically about how concentration on a specific group can perpetuate negative stereotypes.

 Of those who felt that the intentions were good their reasoning centred on their opinions that black boys need extra help because they are failing in schools and are killing each other on the streets. While I accept and agree that there are numerous social issues these involve all ethnic groups and are not limited to black boys. The root of the issue is deeper than the rotten fruit and as such simply blaming the black male for all the social issues he faces is unproductive. This however is not an excuse or condoning negative behaviour. We are all responsible for our actions.

 Mentoring is a powerful tool, one I use and have seen the outcomes associated with it. However only pin-pointing black boys may change a young person’s life but ultimately reinforces the idea that black boys are the problem and they need to be fixed. This approach renders all other potential factors innocent; school, prison and social inequality leading to no permanent change at crucial levels for future generations.

 Eleanor, 26 from Gispy Hill said “Black boys are seen as something of a menace to society and therefore treated as a disease that needs to be treated before it corrupts the good elements in society.  In doing this however the black boys are made to feel worthless and this affects their self-esteem. They are made to feel different and are singled out as special cases and then some of them begin to behave as such; self fulfilling prophesy”

 She also went on to say “ Having funding exclusive to young black boys can generate resentment to other ethnic groups that may feel they need that funding for something they deem to be just as important in their own communities”.

 Channel 4’s hit drama series Top Boy is an example of fulfilling the negative aspects of minority of black males on television. For those who haven’t seen it; the plot involves young black males selling drugs, making bad decisions, having no respect for others and getting involved in violence and other criminal activities. Glorified gangster living. In a discussion with a white middle aged man I questioned his perception of black boys after watching Top Boy and then viewing an advert in the Evening Standard of London mayor Boris Johnson investing 1.2 million in a mentor scheme for young black boys. He replied “ I am old enough to not take what is on television seriously as it is fiction, but after reading that article, I am inclined to think that maybe all I watched was true that they might all be like this, if they need separate organisations like this, something must be wrong with them”

 Asking the question again after discussions around my opinions the results had changed significantly. On reflection 84% said yes and only 16% said no.

 Victor, 23 from Hackney said, “It shouldn’t be specifically aimed at black boys or anyone, and instead it should be for people that live within similar conditions”

 I agree with Victor’s comments. Mentoring is helping for all individuals from a variety of different backgrounds and shouldn’t be limited to a particular race. Poverty, crime, low educational achievements affect a vast majority of young people who all deserve extra assistance. Repetitive focus on black boy’s factors out those that are achieving continues to affect the struggle black boy’s face in society by having to overcome society’s perception of their abilities based on their skin colour.

 Is the character assassination of the young black male now being perpetuated with good intentions?

 You tell me.

RIOTS by Guest Blogger Michael Ndebumadu

On Saturday the 6th of August a protest outside
of Tottenham Police Station turned into what was one of the worst riots England
has ever seen.

The protest itself started over the shooting of Mark Duggan
by the police.  His friends and family
led a demonstration from the Broadwater Farm Estate to Tottenham High Road,
outside the police station. It was here where things took a turn for the worse.
There are no confirmed sources as to what started the riot; some say that it
started over an incident in which riot-police assaulted a teenage girl; other
unconfirmed sources say that she taunted the police by throwing a bottle at
them. Whatever may have triggered the riot, no one was prepared for the mayhem
that followed after.

From that day and onwards a whirlwind of mayhem swept
through Tottenham and passed through cities across London and other parts of
the country. For 4 days it seemed that the nation was under siege by angrer and
anarchy.

Many people began to wonder, where were the MPs and PM? And
why weren’t they doing anything; they began to question whether the police were
capable or equipped to handle the havoc that was occurring on our streets. It
seemed England was lost in chaotic confusion.

As days passed and the rioting spread across the country, Community
Leaders, youth workers politicians and everyday citizens gave their opinions on
TV debating about what was happening; giving their views on what the causes of
the riots were and what could be done to prevent such terrible-events happening
again.  One thing noticeable was the
sides in which people were taking;

On one side, many people saw the rioters/looters as
opportunistic hooligans seeking to get free merchandise and cause damage.  People spoke of the looters/rioters just
wanting to carry out their own personal agendas and that they were not acting
out in retaliation to the shooting of Mark Duggan.  These statements were understandable and true
in a way. We have to look at the issues regarding the rioters and their actions.
Many of the rioters had organised themselves to take part in the trouble.
Social-media such as Blackberry Messenger, Twitter..etc were used to plan where
and when they should meet up to cause chaos. Due to the wreckless and
thoughtless actions of the rioters many people were left homeless; and one has
to wonder, did any of the rioters feel any ounce of compassion for the homeless
victims?  And finally the obvious fact
that a majority of the shops and businesses looted were places where valuable
goods were sold & displayed.

The general public were understandably scared and infuriated
by the riots. What was confusing about the rioters is the fact that some of
them seemed to have little, or no reason to even think of joining in the
disorder; for example amongst those arrested some had jobs. Teachers,
graduates, a model, a lifeguard and even the daughter of a millionaire were
just a few of thosel arrested for their involvement in the riots. These facts
just support what some people said about the intentions of the rioters. One
final factor is that news from The Metro
and The Guardian newspapers stated
that three-quarters of those arrested had criminal records.  So with all these factors it’s easy to
understand why the rioters were easily condemned and labelled.

One the other side, people said they understood why the
havoc that plagued England’s streets had happened. Community Leaders, Youth
Workers and rioters/looters themselves had spoken of actions of the government
and their actions which had driven them to behave in such a manner.

It’s no secret to anyone that the government have made many
massive cuts; and those most affected are those living in inner-city areas.
These people had been living in areas which have had issues with crime, bad
relationships with police, unemployment, unstable homes, kids being out of
school and deprivation before the cuts were made; but now that the cuts have
happened it seems things have gotten worse.  Cuts to organisations that actually helped
young people, youth-clubs..etc were among the cuts that the government made.  Citizens living day to day life with these
issues were bound to eventually snap at one point and it seemed that the time
to snap had reached. Many people felt that these riots had been a long time
coming. For some time now the people felt they were being marginalised and
ignored by the government. Many young people felt that they weren’t be given
any opportunities which would enable them to build a better life and future for
themselves and so now was the time to let their anger out.

One other issue which people kept addressing was that the
government themselves have looted funds from other countries and from the UK
itself. With many politicians claiming expenses on personal items and the
increase in young people being stopped and searched, people felt that it was
hypocritical for the government to condemn the looting.

Going back to the shooting of Mark Duggan; people were angry
that he had been killed by the police and wanted answers as to why he was
killed. In Tottenham a few days after the riots had stopped, a demonstration
had taken place at Tottenham High road. It was a peaceful event, but there was
anger still searing in some people’s hearts. People were angry at the fact that
many other young black men had been killed at the hands of police and this was
one reason which contributed to the riots.

The whole topic of the riots is a deep and long issue. To understand
the riots in its entirety we would have to dig up years of past disputes and
issues which may have been addressed but not yet solved.  The situation of the riots was described by
Ola Gbaja-Biamila, the comedian as “a room filling with gas and all that was
needed was a spark”. And in no way was he joking.

Now that the riots are over, England’s affected areas are rebuilding
and going through a healing process.

A bridge between communities and government needs to be
built so that both parties can delegate and together solve the problems
addressed.  Let us hope that both
government and communities learn from this and let us hope that it makes us
wiser and lead us to build a better future for the people in this nation.

 

Michael Ndebumadu

Layer cake actor, Jamie Foreman endorses Emeka and his book.

I’ve played gangsters, baddies and hard men in the movies, but in real life, the tough choice that takes real courage is be able to say no when violence seems like an easy way out. Emeka Egbuonu has made it his mission in life to equip young people with the confidence and knowledge to make good choices in difficult situations. His book Consequences – Breaking the Negative Cycle is based on his real life experiences with gangs as a youth and his work since helping other young people not get sucked into violence.

This is a valuable insight from someone who tells it as is really is and doesn’t pull any punches. It’s funny, it’s dramatic – but most of all, it’s honest.
It’s no good just condemning street violence, you also have to look at why it’s happening and how to stop it – especially when British cities have been torn apart by looting and rioting. Emeka was out on the streets during the recent unrest in London, helping young people to see sense and not get involved in trouble. This book is a must-read and a practical guide for young people, parents, teachers, police and anyone with an interest in making our cities safe and creating a new generation of hope instead of alienation.

Jamie Foreman – Of EastEnders and movies – Gangster No 1, Layer Cake and Inkheart.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/eastenders/2011/08/derek-branning.shtml

Book promo video

Trailer for London 2 LA; gang intervention documentary

For more information on gang intervention programs visit http://www.thecrib.org.uk

Stolen Dreams S1 P1

Stolen dreams

Series 1

Part 1

 

 

It was a Saturday afternoon, the sun was shining, and everyone was out in their summer clothes looking to absorb the heat. In a barber shop in Hackney, south of the borough, there was a huge queue today as it was Friday; many people are planning on going out tonight. Peter walked in expecting to get his hair cut straight away but was dismayed when he saw the amount of people waiting to get their hair cut. He walked up to his barber and asked him how many people ahead of him ‘there are about 6 ahead of you’ he replied. Peter took his seat, he noticed his friend James walk past the shop and ran to meet him ‘where are you off to? Looking all sharp, I see you got your Christmas clothes out, going to link a girl innit? James smiled as he pulled up his £100 Levi jeans, and dropped the Prada sunglasses from the top of his head unto his face ‘you know me man, I have this sexy chick I met yesterday, you know the routine, babes can I take you out for a drink sometime? She was all over me after that. Peter replied ‘I see your swagger is on point today, she must be sexy! Well am just here waiting to cut my hair man, the queue here is mad today. James looked into the barbershop and saw the amount of people, he was not impressed. James said to peter ‘am off call me later on, bless.

Peter decided to stay outside; the barbershop was a bit too hot for comfort. Peter was not an average sized seventeen years old; he was 5’11 in height and has muscular build. Peter was known in his area, even though he kept himself to himself these days it was not always like that. When Peter was 14 he started making a name for himself, he earned his stripes by doing things that got him respect. Around here respect it is not something you play with, you have to earn your respect and if your respect has been undermined; what you do next will be what people talk about. So around here if you were disrespected then you dealt with it with the only way people knew how, which was with violence. Around here you need to be able to take care of yourself, if not you will not survive. Some call it survival of the fittest; philosophy around here is that they are product of their environment. So at age 15 Peter was well recognised by his peers and feared by his enemies. One thing he managed to do was to keep a low profile from the police, he made sure that he never crossed paths with them.

 

Still outside the barbershop Peter heard a loud cheer inside, so he went in and saw that the match was about to kick off. It is August 18th first game of the season and it was Arsenal vs. Tottenham. The place was buzzing, majority of the people inside were Arsenal fans, only one barber and a customer were spurs fans. The banter had begun; it was Peter who was the ring leader for the Gooners. Peter was a real Arsenal supporter; he loved everything about the club and would not let anyone talk bad about the team, especially from Spurs fans. The animosity between him and the spurs fan was so intense, everyone could feel it. All this was taking place and the match had not even started yet. Peter shouted ‘how can you ever say that spurs are as good as Arsenal, never!’ he said his with real intent as he continued it didn’t seem like banter anymore, voices were being raised so high, you could feel the anger. The match has now started, just as Peter was about to get on the barber’s chair.

The match finished a draw and it seemed like everyone has calmed down now. Peter was not happy as Arsenal were at home and he expected them to beat spurs. The time was 7pm, Peter had a meeting with is mentor Andrew.  Andrew was the person who had helped Peter transform into a new person, they have a special bond. They were both born and raised in Hackney, both had parents of mixed race. Peter was a son of a South African man who came to the UK in the early nineties, his mother was a Scottish woman and they both met in the early nineties fell in love and had Peter. Peter mum passed away when he was 13 and now only lives with his dad. Andrew his mentor had a lot in common with Peter, social background and the inability to trust people. Andrew has been there for Peter for the last two years guiding him and sharing his knowledge with him.  Andrew was not much older than Peter, he was 24, successful young business man who plans to create jobs to help young people.  They planned to meet at Andrew’s office not too far from the barber shop. Andrew saw him and said ‘I see you got that fresh line up, was it JJ? Peter replied with a grin ‘it has to be, I never change barbers, if JJ is away then I guess no hair cut till his back. It’s almost as bad as cheating on your wife, using another barber, hell no! Andrew started laughing uncontrollably ‘you’re too much how can you even begin to compare relationships with someone who cuts your hair. Peter replied with a serious face ‘I don’t play with my hair you know; me and my barber have a monogamous relationship at least I do with him as he sees so many other people. Andrew shouted ‘stop stop you’re killing me’. ‘All jokes aside peter how have you been? It’s been a while since we last met because of my business trips’. Peter replied with a disappointed tone to his voice ‘it’s been alright, the work load was too much just before the summer started, but am into my last year in September; then it’s off to university to study medicine. To tell you the truth Andrew I cannot wait to go away, I feel like am constantly being distracted here. I know the road to becoming a doctor is a long and hard one but the distraction sometimes is too much. Andrew looked at him like a proud big brother, he was really happy with the improvements he had made over the last two years. Listen to me carefully Peter ‘do you remember the first thing you said to me when we first met?’ Thinking back rolling his eyes Peter replied ‘yes’ but he was not quite sure. Andrew reminded him ‘when we first met you said to me; what was the point of having potential if the people around you in education are doing all they can to suppress that. I then said to you that you must first realise you personal worth, because only you can blow your own horn they way you want it blown, you have to change the way people think by doing with your actions, that is the best thing you can do. So being distracted is part of your journey to success, is how you deal with those distraction that make the difference.’

Andrew first met Peter when he was known as Snake on the street. Everyone called him snake because he was tactical, sly and can put fear in those around him. At age 15 he was making so much money by doing whatever seems fit, whether it was drugs, robberies as long as the money was coming in that is all that mattered. Andrew met him at a local youth project were they first had their conversation, instantly Andrew knew that Peter was destined for more than just a life on the streets. He gradually made head way in terms of communication and getting him to open up. At that point Peter was on the verge of going to prison, he and his boys were planning a robbery, on route to this robbery Andrew saw Peter; they spoke briefly. As that was happening his friends has already been stopped in the car, which was filled with guns and baseball bats. They all went down; all sentences to 5 years each. That brief conversation, unintentionally help keep Peter out of prison. From that day on he used it as a sign to try do better, with the guidance of his mentor his on track to achieving his dream which is to be a doctor.

Andrew said to Peter ‘You have a gift and talent to do so much good for yourself and for the people around you. I was not academically gifted like you, but I knew I had to find a way to support myself and to achieve something great. I have always been a business man, when I was in school my parents could not afford to give me pocket money, so I used my own initiative and started up business in school, I sold cookies to those not allowed out at lunch time, I sold mix Cd’s for those that loved music. I even had a hire service as a bodyguard for other student who were vulnerable. So you see with determination and the right people around you, you can achieve your greatness despite all the negativity around you.

That same evening, the sun rays were finally disappearing and a light breeze was blowing. After his meeting, Peter was walking towards his house when he noticed a car circling twice, unsure of what to make of it he takes a detour through an alley where cars cannot go through. The alley way was disgusting, condoms all over the floor, needles from the crack addicts, graffiti all over the place and the smell was horrifying. Peter could not stand the smell so he started jogging, as he came out the dark alley way he saw James, Jason and some of the younger ones from the area. He approached them and said ‘have you noticed a black car, tinted out circling the endz? ‘Nah we’ve all been jamming here’ James replied. ‘Ok, I saw them over and over again, something did not look right. Anyway how was your linkage with that girl you was talking about? James with a fat grin on his face replied how you think it went? She couldn’t resist my game, we didn’t even make it out of her house to go cinema, indoor session if you know what I mean. Peter clenched his fist and gave him a spud saying ‘my man, always on point’. James asked Peter ‘where are you coming from? Peter hesitant with his reply said ‘I am coming from a meeting with Andrew. ‘Again?’ James shouted ‘man seems like you are always with that dude’ Well his been helping me with a few things’ Peter replied.

Peter walked off towards his flat. Jason looked at Peter as he walked away, shaking his head ‘what’s up with that guy? Back in the day I heard he had mad juice now his on this education ting’ James replied ‘things change people change, we both have an understanding, back then, me and Snake aka Peter we use to run this area. We had shit on lock; even men that were older than us could not touch us.’ With a bewildered look to his face Jason also known as Jagz to his friends asked him so what happened since then?’ James had a remorseful look on his face ‘well after we nearly went prison, Peter had a change of heart he started talking all this we need to do more with ourselves nonsense, it got fuelled when he met this Andrew character that has been mentoring him. We stopped talking for a while because I was still on the roads doing what I know best and he was now on this righteous path. Eventually we made up, but agreed that we would never try and persuade each other to do things, so basically he could not try get me to come join him or preach to me about all that system is fucked blah blah blah, and I wouldn’t try get him to come back to the roads.’ Jason shook his head with a better understanding now, everyone respected Peter based on his past but not all understood the drastic u turn he made in such a short space of time.

 

 

James; Big J as he would like to be called was now running things in their area. Big J was also 17, tall well over 6 feet, towered over most; he was the son two St Lucian parents. Both his parents were second generation Windrush. His grandparents arrived in Britain in 1948, both still alive and have a big impact on his life. James has a stable home, where both parents are still together, they make and honest living and try their best for their children. James is the second born, his older is sister is now married with kids and lives with her husband.

Big J wanted and demanded respect from all around him, he was not good with authority figures, and this is why he has been kicked out of all the schools he has been in. Big J does not really like to get his hands dirty, that is why he has a small army of young boys, who are eager to get their stripes. James told Jagz to round up some of the younger ones because he had a move (job) for them.

The day was finally over, after a hot day, now the weather is humid and sticky. Peter walked in to his flat, situated on the 6 floor, a council flat amongst many around it. Their home was very small, a 2 bedroom flat, in Peter’s bedroom you could barely fit a single bed in there. The whole flat lacked a woman’s touch, the walls were all the same colour Magnolia cream was the theme around the house. The television in the sitting room was still a CRT set, not able to afford a flat screen. The cupboards in the kitchen were all falling apart, the carpet was old and filthy. Peter walked in and shouted ‘Dad; you home? No answer, he walked straight to the bathroom to get cleaned up. Singing to himself ‘it’s defiantly a cold shower for me, for me. The front door slammed shut, dad was home ‘Peter stop with the singing hurry up and get out, I feel so dirty after that 12 hour shift’. Peter with an embarrassing laugh replied ‘yes pops soon come’. When Peter got out of the shower, he went to the sitting room to go and greet his dad properly, his dad was already asleep.

Mr Vincent Mendel; Peters dad was an ambitious man, determined to make it and live a life of financial freedom. A year before his wife died from cancer, he had plans to move the family to a bigger house and to start a new business, after all, he has been saving ever since he came to the UK in the early 90’s. With the loss of his wife things took a serious turn for the worse. Peter lost control, joined gangs, committed crimes, he had no control over his family anymore, and the vision he once had was now evaporating. After a few years things got better, Peter was now on a path to becoming a doctor; he hoped that he would be the first in his family line to have a degree. Mr Mendel eventually started his business, he used up all the money he had saved up to start up this business, all he had was in this venture.

With the economic climate changing rapidly, his consultancy business folded within the first year. Mr Mendel was a firm believer in taking risk, but this was a risk too far as he has lost everything. Now he works 6days a week as security guard for a consultancy company, the irony!

As Peter tapped his dad to wake him up so he can have his shower. It was not really a shower to say, it was more like two buckets and a cup to rinse the soap off. Times were hard for the Mendel’s, but they both knew nothing would happen if all they did was to feel sorry for themselves. Mr Mendel eventually woke up, got cleaned up and went straight to bed, because he had another 12hour shift, which meant he had to be up by 5am.

Peter; before he went to bed got on the laptop to make sure his CV was up to date. Peter has been looking for work since college closed for the summer. He wants to make some money to help his dad with the bills, plus to have some money for himself in case anything came up.

The weekend was over, Peter woke up early, today was the day he thought he would get a job or at least an interview. Brushed his teeth, got ready and headed out.  Monday morning, some would call it the worst time of the week, getting ready to go back to work. The weather was gloomy, as if it was going to rain today, ‘typical English weather, and it is meant to be summer’ Peter was moaning to himself. Walking through his estate, it was the same old routine, the council contracted cleaners were cleaning the blocks, and the rubbish men would come at the exact same time. Seems like nothing changes around here, people get use to the jobs they have and stick with it. Peter wanted more from his life, he has seen the struggling his dad has gone through and wants to break that cycle. Old street station; so many people rushing to catch the tube most of them all heading for the northern line.  As Peter squeezed past to get a seat, someone else got there first, so now everyone is squashed like sardines just gasping for some air, the body heat is intense. Most people on the train trying to avoid eye contact with each other, Peter took a good look around, what he saw was working professional looking depressed as they go into work. Most looking worn out already and it is only Monday morning. Peter looked to his left, looked to his right, no one looked happy at all, thinking to himself that he does not want to be in these people shoes one day. Finally Tottenham court road station, Peter was now at his destination, eager and ready to hand out his CV.

 

The day is almost coming to an end, with the rain drizzling, Peter headed back to his area, and he had one more stop before he was done for the day. Walking through his estate, he saw Jagz, James’s right hand man. Jagz was what they called British beef, he was 17, white, former boxer, about 5’9 in height but stocky. Jagz had a boy from another area pinned to the wall, as he robbed him; he started punching the boy in his face, repeatedly without remorse. ‘Hey!’ shouted Peter as he walked up to Jagz ‘what the heck do you think you are doing?’ he asked with his voice cracking with anger ‘none of your fucking business, now keep it moving’ Jagz replied with an arrogant tone. Jagz was robbing the boy because he was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time, he also felt like he could and no one could do anything to stop him. Peter demanded that Jagz give the things back to the boy, ‘give him back his things’ Peter asked politely, Jagz looked at his face and started laughing, ‘you fucking having a bubble, get the fuck out of here, listen I don’t know who you think you are, but out of respect for Big J an gonna let that slide’. Jagz walked off with the boy’s belongings laughing his head off, the young lad walked off shaking his head, and he had fire in his eyes.

Peter made his way to the job centre, looking lost, he asked the security guard ‘I need help finding a job, I was wondering if you can point to the right direction,’ security guard replied with a deep African accent ‘to find work, you must use the machines to search for jobs, only if you are signing on can you see an assistant.’ ‘Ok thanks,’ Peter replied. As he was using the machine, a soft voice from behind him asked him ‘are you alright there? Peter was just about to say fine thanks, but then he looked up and saw her face, she was beautiful, young, dark chocolate brown. Peter was instantly attracted to her. ‘Am not too sure if I am using it right’ he replied with a gentle voice, more gentle than usual. She smiled at him and showed him how to do a local job search and a job search for other areas as well.  After the job search the two spent some time talking to each other, nothing but smiles and flirting, from a distance anyone looking would think that they were together. Peter remembering what James had told him that weekend, he thought he might try his luck, ‘can I take you out for a drink sometime? Actually maybe not a drink, even though I would like to but as you can see I am looking for work at the moment’. After hesitating to get his words out she finally stopped him and said ‘it doesn’t matter what we do, take my number and give me a call. I need to get back to work before I join you in unemployment.’ Peter laughed, with a sigh of relief ‘oh ok you got jokes, I didn’t get your name?’ Michelle! She shouted as she walked away. Peter walking out with a big smile on his face, the security looked at him and said ‘I see you did not get a job, but what you got instead is not bad either,’ Peter winked at him and walked out.

Back in the estates, Peter was approaching James and Jagz. James walked up to him, he looked angry, asked Peter to join him for a walk. ‘What the hell happened today, Jagz told me that you were getting involved in our business.’ James said this with real anger in his voice, Peter replied, calm saying ‘look he was robbing a boy no older than 13, in the estate, listen we said that we would not do any dirt in our back yard, I saw it and didn’t like it so I tried to stop it’ James clenching his fist shouted ‘you didn’t like it, you didn’t like it! I thought we agreed to stay out of each other business; I didn’t like the fact that you stopped jamming with your boys and wen on some righteous path, but we let you do you. So don’t get involved again, your choice to get out the game so stay out’ Peter replied ‘fine’.  The friendship between the two has never been the same ever since they both went their own ways, but the both still had mad love for each other. After all the shouting and insults, Peter told him about the girl from the Jobcentre.

As they were walking back towards where Jagz and the rest were standing, they heard screaming, loud screaming. Jagz came running around the corner, shouting ‘MOVE OFF, HIS GOT A STRAP’ without hesitation, both turned around, and all they could hear were rounds letting off. The shooter was on foot; he had a motorcycle helmet on and just kept shooting. Eventually the shooting stopped, Jagz was long gone, but Peter and James were both on the floor, there was blood everywhere. Peter looked at himself to make sure it wasn’t him; he saw that James was not moving. James had been shot in the back and on his leg. Frantic cries of help, were being shouted by those who witnesses the shooting, Peter, full of James’s blood, sweating, he could barely talk. James was drifting in and out of consciousness. ‘Someone please help me’ he shouted………….

To be continued………….

 

What do you think happens next?

Have your say.

 

Consequences

We all make choices. And choices come with consequences. I’ve written a book to help young people learn that the choices they make can transform their lives for the better – or worse.

My name is Emeka Egbuonu. I grew up in  Hackney in London.

I hope my book Consequences – Breaking the Negative Cycle will help other young people learn from mistakes made by those who have come before them.  So we can break the cycle of poor role models, low aspirations, under achievement. Understanding the importance of history and culture, how inequality affect young people, tackling youth violence and gang culture and enabling young people to be ambitious.

I lead seminars for groups of young people in London and am on the London Mayor’s mentoring team. I’ve also met former gang members in Los Angeles who are using innovative techniques to turn young people away from gangs. I hope this book will help spread the message even further that things can change for the better – and share ways to make that happen.

In this blog I’ll be telling you about me, my own personal journey away from violence (it hasn’t been easy) and towards self-discovery and I’ll also keep you posted on the book.

Thanks for dropping by and reading this first post.

Watch this space for much more.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Consequences_bnc-Breaking-the-negative-cycle/216249635078467?sk=info

 

Twitter @Emeka_bnc