Here the media go again with their “riot“ talk. This time they are referring to a number of young girls and boys involved in a mass altercation. A far cry from what we associate with the word riot. Growing up in an age where social media can turn private disputes into public concerns as we have seen by the response to the footage of the Walthamstow fight, violence is consistently attributed to black people.
— BAMIJO Out Now (@BubuWyla) October 6, 2015
There are only a few reasons why I have written this piece, the first being that although there seemed to be a mass disturbance and violence, people have reacted like this is the first time something like this has happened. I recall many times growing up and attending secondary school where whole year groups would fight others from opposing schools and yet as young black males there was nowhere near as much uproar about it. This could simply be because the use of smartphones have changed and now capture everything, making it easier to amplify or exaggerate situations. What might have been a situation dealt with by the police is now open to scrutiny and public opinion, guided by the way it is reported by the media.
Comments on social media have made me aware that not only do people have a negative image of young black people, it is also saddening that young women are subject to being vilified and shamed for an issue which has been going on in all communities since forever. There seems to be such a distaste for black women that we overlook what young black men have been doing to each other on a larger scale and with much more serious and sometimes fatal repercussions. Isn’t it convenient that a week after successful protests and social media campaigns in response to two black women being rejected from a west end club for being ‘too dark’ and ‘overweight’, the mainstream media plasters the news about black girls being the reason a ‘riot’ (or a fight as I like to call it) broke out in Walthamstow last night. You only need to type in the hashtag ‘Walthamstow Riots’ to see the views of the public towards our young sisters yet I see men from our community also joining the ‘banter’.
To show distaste and shame towards young black girls fighting is hypocritical when young men are fighting and stabbing each other regularly (dare I say daily?). But we should be ashamed and disgusted because they are young women right? Oh, because they’re young BLACK women. We have to be aware that the amplification of this issue is bigger than an altercation between young girls and boys. This is an example of creating a counter-narrative to the strong media campaign against discrimination and reinforcing the stereotype that young black girls are angry, violent and unattractive. Sadly, young black men have joined in with reinforcing the stereotype by verbally punishing black women rather than acknowledging and defending the fact that these issues are not isolated to the black community.
Furthermore, what also saddens me is that there is a counter-narrative to this idea that young black people are always up to no good and the truth is, the majority are doing something productive and meaningful with their lives. It’s all about perspective and what we are shown, the majority of news or coverage about young black people in the UK is negative, very rarely do we see our culture and achievements celebrated. This is a plea for us to start supporting those who are doing positive things within our community and bring these examples to light so that we can see the greatness within ourselves and stop relying on the media to tell our story.
Words by @TonySupreme