Ahead of trying to pull together a host of stories and articles arising from and coinciding with the tragic events of these last weeks, Seema Chandwani has agreed to me pasting into a whole her passionate and powerful Twitter thread of April 6, which has gone viral.
THREAD: I’ve been relatively silent about the murder of 17 year old Tanesha Melbourne-Blake, sometimes you just have to shut up and listen.
I first met Tanesha 3 years ago during the fight to ‘Save Haringey Youth Services’. A fight her and many of her peers fought with passion.
I’ve rewatched some of those campaign videos. The words are haunting. Those young people knew what could/would happen should cuts to services continue.
Watching Tanesha’s face in those videos, little did she realise the lives she was campaigning to save, would include her own.
I’m not in anyway saying if the youth services cuts didn’t happen she’d be alive.
But the issues raised by young people in such campaigns need to be heard – cutting of services creates an environment where young people feel compelled to speak out about their lives.
Young people in areas like Tottenham are very capable of articulating their own wants and needs, but they asked me to campaign *with* them because they needed a ‘political advocate’ as this fight was in their words ‘unequal’ – they felt unable to ‘compete’ alone.
I didn’t understand it at first, but soon did.
I won’t go into details, the campaign (both 2011 & 3 years ago) are well documented.
But I’ll make my first point; we fail as adults when we see young people fighting for help services as the problem.
I’ve watched the response over the past few days and there are times I’ve been frustrated.
If you’re a Politician or politico, currently engaged in this issue of youth violence, ask yourself why?
Why are you getting involved?
You don’t need to respond but if are genuinely interested in helping young people in this fight you have to accept this is their fight, not yours.
This isn’t about your stats, your policy, your budget or even your child.
This is about young people’s current everyday life.
If you are speaking about young people’s daily life, actually understand it first.
They are surviving, navigating through a world mainstream society haven’t dared make a TV series out of yet. It’s nothing like you think you know about, even if you once smoked weed when you were 15.
There are now politicians and policy donks up and down the country holding events/meetings to show they’re doing something.
Less than 1/10 will be inviting any young people to hear what they have to say.
A lot of pics will be taken.
Of the few that will engage young people they’ll go to speak to a school council or local church group or something similar.
Young people are not a homogeneous group. Tarquin in Hertfordshire doesn’t speak for Trevor in Wood Green.
Engaging young people facing this battle is difficult, made more difficult as almost every embryonic cord connecting them to society has been cut.
The young people in survival mode don’t know you, some don’t even believe they need to know you.
But don’t find a substitute!
‘Community Leaders’ don’t exist, they are a political fabrication designed in the 80s to create a hierarchy amongst the working class.
Stop meeting with them.
If you want to ask people how you can help, ask those directly who need the help.
Ask your ‘community leaders’ to give you direct access to those people, if they cannot, then the only thing they lead is you, up the garden path.
There is only one way to solve this problem and that is long-term inclusion.
This means understanding there has always been a criminal underworld – Dickens wrote about it centuries ago. If Oliver Twist was born in 1998, he’d have a YouTube account
Marginalised people exist because the system of marginalisation exists.
This is not a new problem. It existed when I was a teen. My and my little sister can remember the names of our friends murdered in 1990s.
Why we keep acting like this is a new thing is almost insane!
It’s always been about economics, opportunities and belonging, always.
You are competing with an industry that can promise young people a life you have failed to give.
It’s not just money, it’s a sense of worth, purpose, belonging and achievement.
Maslow is basic GCSE level psychology. Young people need investment.
It’s not a short term fix. It’s not a 4 week Twitter campaign. It’s not a week summer project – it’s a complete 0-19 long term investment. Including investment in people working with young people
And it’s a lot cheaper than these knee jerk reactionary initiatives.
Until you can get a child to tell an organised crime ring they’re not interested – you’ll have this problem.
Criminals need a workforce and our society is providing them with an unlimited supply of young people to choose from.