London and several other Cities in the UK have been on fire quite literary since Saturday 6th August following the death of a Mark Duggan a young man of mixed parentage. The riots started in north London and have since spread across the country.
Several reasons have been put forward as to why mostly young people took to the streets including Race but the one that has left me shaking my head is POVERTY. It is not because I believe they are no poor people in UK cities and incidentally poverty as a reason to riot and burn down cities reminded me of a post I wrote in March of last year on poverty in UK Vs Poverty in Africa
One of the issues I raised in that post is SYSTEMIC POVERTY, this is a phrase I made up as it appeared to me that it is possible to be poor here in the UK because of the system. So the meaning I assign to the phrase SYSTEMIC POVERTY is poverty created by the system.
But what does poverty has to do with looting, rioting and burning down whole neighbourhoods and cities? In a word nothing as far as I can tell!
I agree that the System has stripped authority away from parents, the teachers, the Police as well as the community at large. This same system has given children and young people generally too many rights so much so that those that are meant to guide them along the right path are instead afraid of them.
These youth have failed to realise that with rights come responsibilities
- To be a good neigbour
- Have due regard for the law, the community, parents and your fellow citizens
- To contribute to society in a meaningful way
As far as I can tell the London riots and elsewhere in UK are about fighting authority or the system and excuses of poverty and racism are just that excuses.
Nikki Pilkington and fellow blogger over at BIRDS ON THE BLOG has an interesting take on this, she argues that it is possible to fight the system and win. I agree.
My own story is that of an immigrant that came here with only a suitcase, but worked with that very system to gain an education, a job, a home of my own in a smart town and finally that very system has enabled me to help those less fortunate than I am such as the woman in this photo in Ruhanga SW Uganda.
My point is there is so much advantage to be gained from out the system if one so chooses, granted it is not easy and some will need more guidance than others.
It seems to me therefore that the best way forward is that the system should give power/authority back to parents, teachers, the police and the community so that they can guide children through the system in order that they can get the best out of it instead of becoming its victims.
Victims? Yes! For when parents, teachers and the community are absent in a young person’s life, a void is created and sadly whenever a gap or void is created someone or something will fill it. In the case of some of these young people it can Gangs, drugs, alcohol, crime or all of the above.
What do you think?
Is there such a thing as systemic poverty?
What is really behind the riots in your opinion? Is it simply a case of being poor or belonging to a certain ethnicity?