Posted on August 21, 2018

Race Is a Part of Knife Crime and We Must Speak the Truth Even If Media Avoids Mentions of Ethnicity

Trevor Phillips, The Sun, August 19, 2018

The skies are darkening over our island for boys like the teenager who was disembowelled in this week’s knife attack in Camberwell, South London.

This attack is the latest in a senseless war between gangs — almost all comprised of black or Asian youngsters.

If the toll had included white teens, I suspect there would be a national outcry.

It is time to recognise that what started as a grim fight for territory between hardened criminals is turning into a massacre of the innocents.

This year three of the killings have taken place within ten minutes of my doorstep.

My own affluent North London street is surrounded by estates populated in part by the ethnic groups whose names feature in virtually every report of the violence: Somalis, Ethiopians, North and Central Africans, Afghans.

The media scrupulously avoids mentioning ethnicity. I understand the fear of stigmatising these groups, but nothing could be more relevant.

Race is part of the picture, and failing to point this out impedes the fight against these crimes — and imperils yet more children of colour.

Met Police boss Cressida Dick made one of the few intelligent contributions by pointing out that much of the apparently random violence isn’t random at all: It’s the consequence of the war to supply middle-class parties with drugs.

But even if we could reduce the demand, it will take time, and these children don’t have time. They are in mortal danger now.

A disproportionate number of the killers and their victims come from single-parent households, with mothers holding down multiple jobs.

These women need help, whether in the form of another responsible adult in the home, or just straight cash that would free them to spend more time with their sons.

Pupil Referral Units, all too often prep schools for gang violence, should either be properly funded or disbanded.

I support the ambitious idea that we should make it possible for boys who want to get out of the gang life to board at schools away from home — they don’t all have to be posh.

When I showed signs of “going wrong” my parents dispatched me to the other side of the Atlantic, to a school in Guyana, where the expression “rod of iron” has an all too concrete meaning.

And we need a new deal with police. I don’t entirely buy claims their hands are tied by political correctness.

Nonetheless, we should stop obsessing about disproportionality in the use of stop and search, even perhaps removing legal inhibitions to focusing on particular high-crime areas.

But in turn, the police must accept the roll-out of body-worn cameras.

To paraphrase great African American activist Malcolm X, we need to defeat this challenge by any means necessary.

Our children’s lives depend on it. And their (black) lives matter.

Trevor Phillips