“Are You About Dis Ting, Fam?” by Sheldon Thomas

Where do you start, when there are over 80 murders in the capital alone, and just under half of those are young teenagers being killed by other teenagers? This number doesn’t even include the rest of the UK, which, I’m sure, would be nearer to 200. And what do you think the Media and the politicians are doing about it?

Let’s have a look at the Media. Back in May of this year, the Daily Mail ran a two-page spread on how the Albanian drug barons are behind Britain’s youth murder epidemic. What can one say, but how ridiculous and typical of a media newspaper to try and blame immigrants for what is happening in the capital and in other parts of the UK? Allow me to educate the Media: crime families – or, as some describe them today, ‘organised criminal networks’ – have been operating in the UK for over 50 years and, believe me when I tell you, the ones who have been entrenched into British society don’t come from Europe, and they don’t look like me, Black Caribbean.

For decades, these White British criminals have gone almost untouched. They have the business sense, the organisation, the power and systems in place to bring drugs and weapons in large supply into the UK, forging links with the cartels in Columbia, with Jamaican Yardies back in the 80s and 90s, and even the Mexican cartels. They also forged other connections to many other crime cartels throughout the world, and this didn’t happen overnight.

With politicians, judges and some high-ranking police officers in their pockets, these crime networks have gone unchallenged for many years. It has only been in the last decade that we have seen that landscape change, where a small percentage of European and Asian criminals have begun to stake a claim. Whilst this may be true, to try and blame the Albanians is laughable, as the problems of London and gangs were already entrenched way before European criminals entered our borders.

Again, like the politicians, the Media are just grasping at thin air and playing on the Brexit vote to stump the ill feeling in various communities, to blame the immigrants, when in fact Britain – and only Britain – and our societal issues are totally to blame for where we are today with gangs and serious youth violence.

I could say, “I told you so.” Unlike many organisations that have recently started, I have been knocking at the door of 10 Downing Street since 2000. This led me to my first meeting at the Home Office, bringing with me my documentary, ‘The Violence Must Cease’ that I made nine years earlier (1991). It prophesied the rise of youth violence in the coming years, if we didn’t address the problems of the 90s. To my surprise, I was quickly ushered out of the Home Office and told that gangs don’t exist and there was no gangs problem. Well, we all know how that ended up.

Who is to blame for the current crisis? Well, I for one will not blame the police. The police were to blame for what happened in the 70s and 80s, which made many young men – especially Black boys – turn to gangs. (Back then, we used the word ‘posse’.) Some say this is the legacy we are now reaping.

The Blame Culture

Politicians, media and communities are all blaming each other, and no one is willing to take any responsibility. So let’s start with the politicians.

Almost all the MPs are more interested in making sure they get voted in the next major elections and, to make matters worse, most MPs cannot even relate to how most Britain’s live out their daily lives, so it makes it impossible for them to understand or accept there is a problem, let alone fix it, or, as one politician put it: “If the lives of young men involved were White middle class, would we have seen a different reaction?”

So we elect people who do not understand us… Let’s forget about us, they don’t understand the White majority. They are far removed from realities of the ‘hard-knock life’, of the common man, and these are the MPs who are then asked to take the lead on forums and roundtable discussions on gangs and youth violence – on issues they clearly have no understanding of.

An example of this was a recent meeting I had, where an MP from Chelmsford got very angry. This MP could not accept the truth that drug gangs were using county lines distribution networks, and grooming young children as young as 11 from Chelmsford into selling drugs, and then enabling them to set up their own gangs to bring drugs into schools in Chelmsford. Why?

Most MPs, like this MP, live in a bubble, and they only react when it becomes a crisis. This usually takes the form of many reports, which have different titles, but literally say the same thing and change nothing. They continue with this approach, however, because it’s a system, and they are unwilling to change this system, which then makes it impossible for anything they come up with in these reports to work. Why?

Reacting – rather than preventing – is far more visible to the electorate that is going to vote in the next election. Prevention, on other hand, relies on using a more qualitative approach, whilst the quantitative approach measures data that already exists, eg. the number of deaths, suspects, and girls being sexually exploited.

For over 10 years, I have been saying in every interview I have done, that gang violence disproportionally affects the Black community more in London than any other community, but because politicians fear to be labelled as racists by the Black community, they have refused to even address this, due to political correctness. What makes this situation really bad is that the Black community themselves have not acknowledged this.

Let’s look at the most recent stats, requested by Sky News under the Freedom of Information Act, for every police force in the country. These stats showed London was unique when it came to murder statistics. Almost half the murder victims – as well as suspects – were Black, despite the ethnic group accounting for just 13% of London’s population.

White people in London make up 60% of the population, but only account for 35% of murder victims and 24% of murder suspects. Yet for decades, the Church and the Black community have been running scared to even mention or address this crisis. Instead, we have those in the community trying to blame the lack of youth clubs, but I have never known any gang members to actually go to youth clubs. I have even heard one Black leader actually state that racism is the underlying reason why so many young Black boys are killing each other and, whilst all this has been going on, the Church has become so insular it’s become embarrassing.

Whilst this is true of many churches, there are some smaller churches that are trying to impact the community. Without the financial resources of the larger churches, however, they are limited in what they can do. Why is this such a problem? Simple. Most of the victims and suspects are coming from fatherless homes, and the fact that 72% of male inmates (prisoners) also lacked fathers or positive male figures in their lives, this I believe should have placed the Church in a unique position – in my opinion, we have the moral high ground, but haven’t taken up this position.

Is it just me, or is there not a correlation between absent fathers, the significant rise in violence and the increase in young men being imprisoned? Let’s have another look at some stats: 61% of Black households are absent of fathers, but here again we see the community not wanting to address this. It still continues to lay the blame elsewhere.

We have mothers who have become scared of their own children; we have mothers who collude with their kid’s drug dealing, and then there are the mothers who are totally oblivious. What has been so alarming is how most mothers I have come into contact with have no idea who their children’s friends are; what their kids are getting up to on social media and, in some cases, do not even know where the kids are at night. I have seen children as young as 11 out way past midnight, yet the mothers and the community do not seem to want to address this. They are quite willing to blame everyone else for what is very clear to me – a case of bad parenting.

I believe gangs and serious youth violence are not an enforcement problem, but a societal problem, one where colour can no longer lay claim to have exclusive rights to, as I found when researching Bowlby and Bowen’s Attachment Theory. Simply put, if your child does not form the right kind of positive attachments at a very young age (0–5), they are unlikely to develop emotionally and will struggle in later life to form positive relationships. This is not a Black problem but a UK problem, where, according to a recent UN report in 2015, children in the UK are more likely to grow up in a loveless home than children in Europe.

One of the reasons it stated was that Britain has become a society where business, ministry and success have become far more important than spending the right amount of time with our children. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs also places the emotional growth of children as paramount, by stating that if the basic needs of children are not met – love, safety, shelter and affirmation – then the likely chance of your child developing emotionally becomes very difficult, and is likely to lead to them developing relationships with negative peer groups.

There is an old saying: If you don’t spend time with your children, then gang members, radicalised or far right groups will. Why? Because there is a gap, and unfortunately because of social media, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, children are being groomed right in their bedrooms, via the mobile phone, and this medium has replaced the absent father and, in some cases, replaced some of the mothers too.

Children are being parented by social media, which not only tells them to rebel, but smoke skunk, “Join my gang”, have sex and “Be in my video and we will give you a ski mask, and all you have to do is point your hands at the camera in the shape of gun several times.”

Children as young has eleven are now smoking skunk, which not only damages their brain cells (which cannot be replaced or fixed, unlike a broken arm), but will cause long-term mental illnesses, because skunk is not naturally grown but is made with chemicals. So not only is this a societal problem; we now have a mental health crisis as well.

The use of social media has now spread this gangster lifestyle and has made it become a culture, one that doesn’t tow the colour lines, but means it is now entrenched into the fabric of British society. Over the last few years, we have learnt that gangs groom and exploit middle class White children; they do not discriminate. Gone are the days of grooming kids from some broken home in some decaying estate. “Are you about dis ting, fam?” can now be heard from kids in Salisbury, Chelmsford, Epping Forest, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Gloucestershire, whose mums are earning anywhere between £50,000 to £80,000 and dads are on £80,000 to £120,000 per year. These kids have learnt everything from watching trap and drill music videos of their favourite hood celebrity artists, who are actual gang members portraying themselves as MCs – even though they do have talent.

To begin to address these societal issues, the government needs to have a vision for young people, where all children of all races – especially those from poor White communities – can see hope and a future for themselves. Poor Whites are doing far worse than any other ethnic group in regards to schools and, if this is not addressed, then we are leaving another gap for the far right groups to exploit on a far bigger scale than it is right now. Why? Because when you are uneducated, you are more likely to be manipulated by far right groups or groomed by gang members.

Society needs to address: why do so many fathers find it so easy to turn their backs on their children? Why are local and central government afraid of prevention? Why are they afraid of developing new and long-term strategies, which are financially well resourced? Why has the Church not addressed the issues around absent fathers, bad parenting and the lack of love in British society? The simple answer to all the above is fear and the fear of change.

For more information about Gangsline and the mentoring programmes, multi-agency training and school workshops they offer, visit www.gangsline.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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One thought on ““Are You About Dis Ting, Fam?” by Sheldon Thomas

  • 7th September 2018 at 3:31 am
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    Found this article highlights many failings that are well known. The impotency of the church is a big factor mainly because the church has become worldly. Children not only love and guidance they also need to know that their is a purpose for the lives. The Gospel changes lives, God can reach the disaffected in ways we cannot imagine.

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