Jan 28 2016

You Cannot Define Black Culture

Dear Ms Birbalsingh,

London is a vibrant, multicultural city that holds many diverse cultures in it. Unfortunately, these cultures clashed in the London riots. Instead of using this as an opportunity to ask why, you used this space to blame black culture as the main cause for the riots. You cannot define black culture and I will explore why.

What colour was Mark Duggan? He was black. Mark Duggan had history with the police and committed petty crimes. You know, the stereotypical young black male living in London. So once the news hit British citizens, the vast majority believed that the death was ‘justified’. However, after further investigations, Mark Duggan did not fire any shots, as the weapon was in the back seat. Time and time again, British police have committed crimes and escaped penalty, and this case is just another number added to the statistic.

The police, to some: defenders of peace, but to black people? Their worst enemy. 333 black people have died in police custody without any convictions or suspensions since 1998. This shows that the Metropolitan police have a poor history and even their inspection board (IPCC) are corrupt in covering up the police brutalities. This fact is shocking and also harms your argument, as you say “the police did not kill this man in cold blood” and “the police defended themselves”. Police brutality isn’t the only problem. Did you know that a black person is 17.5 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than a white person?

Black people’s relationship with the police isn’t the only problem they’re facing. They have been at the bottom of the social ladder for hundreds of years, and in some parts of the UK, still are. Haringey, Tottenham has the fourth highest level of child poverty in London and an unemployment rate of 8.8%, which is double the national average. Therefore with the problems that Tottenham were facing, they had a right to feel irritated and angry. Also the richest 10% in the UK are 100 times better off than the poorest, this means that the rich is getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Crime, ill-health, imprisonment and mental illness have also increased due to poor social mobility. Finally, recent austerity cuts by the government sparked even more anger and unrest, which was capped of by the death of Mark Duggan which was the main reason for the London Riots, not black people.

Black people only count for 3% of the population in the UK, a huge minority. Throughout history, we have seen how media and propaganda have unfairly targeted minorities. But yet you say “black youths have once again set London alight”. Strong comments like this, from people with power, is the reason why racism is still so profound in our society. Is every black person violent? No, so where is the idea of black culture being violent sprouting from? Was Martin Luther King violent? No. But yet he was able to inspire and change American culture for the better. However history and society have based black people as a violent race because of a minority of blacks, which is wrong. The media are also part of the problem. Their bias and unfair pictures also captured black people in a bad light.

Martin Luther King dreamed of a world in which men and women were “judged by the content of their character rather than the colour of their skin”. Unfortunately in this day and age, due to people’s mindsets just like yours, King’s dream still hasn’t come to fruition.

Jan 20 2016

Writing To Argue

Dear Mrs Hopkins,

For many years the journalism industry has created nasty characters with strong, questionable opinions. However when I came across your article, I was viciously troubled. I commend you for your bravery – not a lot of people would have the courage to be as disrespectful and verbally violent as you. ‘Feral humans.’ That’s what you call migrants who are fleeing from a war, migrants who are looking for better lives. The thing that makes me laugh is that you thought you were covert enough to get away with racial abuse. It is outrageous how you describe human beings as ‘cockroaches’. Cockroaches are known to be pests, vermin and unpleasant insects that carry dangerous diseases. Therefore you seem to believe that the migrants are just pests who will bring nothing but overpopulation and diseases. This type of offensive language is unacceptable and just plain shallow. What were you thinking?

Europe is a very special and powerful continent. You know that, I know that, but the thing you don’t know is that other continents, other countries, are also special and make a crucial contribution to the UK’s economy. So your comment stating Italians need to “stop singing opera, drinking espresso and looking chic in chuffing everything” is rude and inapproriate. According to statistics, the migrants that enter the UK create more money than they take out: since 2000, migrants have contributed £25 billion to the UK economy, migrants have worked more and received less than the average Briton and between 2001-11 migrants have paid 34% more in taxes than benefits. So why do you describe these migrants as a “plague”?

I accept that in recent years the UK has received a flood of migrants that has led to higher competitiveness in jobs and that migration has been a drain on resources. However, migration is a vital form of help and protection for vulnerable migrants who are in crisis. If we don’t reach out to take people in, we will have death and suffering on our conscience for years to come. They don’t deserve unneeded criticism from you, Mrs Hopkins, instead they need empathy from British citizens.

Migration brings innovation and cultural, vibrant energy to the UK, allowing the UK to embrace new cultures and ideas to enrich the country. From 1685-1700, the UK took in 100,000 French Protestants, over 200,000 Eastern-European Jews sought refuge in the UK from 1880-1914 and a quarter of a million Polish refugees settled in the UK in the Second World War. This an enourmous amount, especially considering that the British were not as influencial and powerful during the 16th and 17th century. Also the migrants have had a significant role in British culture and society such as: Sir Montague Burton, the founder of Burton Menswear, Micheal Marks, who is the founder of Marks and Spencer and Karl Marx, a famous economist and philosopher. The significance of the famous migrants is that they have contributed positively to the UK. But yet you say you would “use gunships to stop migrants”, migrants who possibly could help shape British society for the better? Why?

But that is not point. The point is that we need to offer these migrants an opportunity to escape from their problems and gain entrance to a new, brighter start. It is strange how the UK has only 2% of the world’s refugees and yet an 2002 opinion poll revealed that British citizens feel that we host 26%. Where has this negative climate towards migrants come from, who can we blame for this? Perhaps these assumptions are due to poor and bias media coverage from journalists like you, Mrs Hopkins. Who held minorities in slavery and captivity for hundreds of years? White people were responsible. But yet you have the nerve to still accuse and shame these minorities who need help.

As a black student, how would it look if I went and called all my white teachers maggots? How would society view me? White people would condemn what I said and the hungry for stories media would ridicule me harshly because of my black skin colour. Martin Luther King fought for equality for every race in America, but yet your views do the exact opposite and prey upon the vulnerable minorities.