‘Stereotypes’

Client: BBC Radio 4
Date: 11 January 2017
Programme: Four Thought

Brief

“There’s so much more to talk about regarding council estates other than crime and anguish; more pertinent things, more celebratory things and more interesting things”

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Four Thought’ podcast hosts a variety of speakers who connect stories from their personal biographies to wider social issues. Topics have included everything from the familial impact of caring for individuals living with dementia and the complex process of recovering from drug addiction to how black hair is crucial to identity formation and the importance of sensitivity. When invited to speak on the programme, I thought long and hard about which event from my biography would best lend itself to the incisive social commentary I always seek to make. There was one event in particular that was the most obvious choice, but I dismissed this as a possibility, because I was quite that I was not yet ready to divulge  this,  especially  not on such a big stage.

As time progressed, however, it became glaringly unavoidable: I needed to speak about the fateful evening I witnessed a murder of a young man in a tragic case of mistaken identity. I had already alluded to the event in some of previous journalism and forthcoming music, yet it had only been implicit. On my Four Thought I decided to tell the story explicitly and in detail. Though not without nervousness, I embraced it as an opportunity to not only seal and complete the personal process of healing that I had undergone, but also, and more importantly for me, to challenge racial stereotypes, encourage a reimagining of masculinity, expose the human cost of social inequality & to demonstrate the possibility of converting personal trauma to positive social change.

“Mechanisms of oppression like perilous border systems, stringent welfare procedures, unequal access to opportunities and social exclusion, which produces crime such as that which I witnessed, are not just abstract sociological issues or imaginary entities that lefties love to complain about. They are actually urgent matters of life and death

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