Monday, September 13, 2004

Gangsta Culture Called a 'Deadly Virus'

Gangsta culture a deadly virus, says top TV presenter
Martin Bright, home affairs editor
Sunday September 12, 2004
The Observer

One of the best known black personalities on British TV said yesterday that 'gangsta' street culture was a 'deadly virus' that was destroying a generation of African-Caribbean boys.
BBC sports presenter and former Tottenham Hotspur striker Garth Crooks said there was a direct link between films and rap music glorifying violence and the drift of black boys away from education and into crime and violence.
'There is an epidemic out there, and it is killing some of our children. Do you think there could be a correlation between this and the growing dissipation of our cultural values?' he said.
Crooks's passionate plea to the black community to tackle the issue of gangsta street culture was delivered to 2,000 delegates attending the third London Schools and the Black Child conference to discuss the increasing crisis of black children's underperformance in the education system. Addressing himself directly to young black men, Crooks said: 'As for the youngsters in our community who think they are gangsters; grow up. You are pathetic. You are not gangsters or clever. You are kids and it's time to impose zero tolerance.'
He continued: 'Street culture will become a deadly virus ripping indiscriminately through our next gen eration, robbing millions of their potential.'
Crooks said his strict Jamaican parents had instilled in him a respect for decent family values. 'In my day it was only the rude white boys who did not go to school. We were too afraid.'
His words were echoed by outspoken Labour MP Diane Abbott and Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality. Abbott, who has organised the conference for the past three years, told The Observer : 'It is important to understand just how seriously we are taking this problem. Two thousand people turned out for this event on a Saturday morning.
We are talking about a lost generation.'
Phillips told the gathering of parents, teachers and educationalists: 'Our girls and especially boys face exclusion, denigration; they face failure, they face destruction.
'For every boy from our community at a university campus today, there are two in jail. That is the measure of the crisis we face.'
Phillips also argued that the Commission for Racial Equality should survive as a separate anti-racist body. He said government plans to merge it with bodies responsible for gender and disability rights were misguided.
Phillips and Crooks both defended Abbott's decision to take her son out of the state system and send him to the exclusive City of London boys' school.
Phillips invoked the words of black civil rights leader Malcolm X by saying black parents had to fight for the survival of their children 'by any means necessary'.
An opinion poll conducted by Mori for the Greater London Authority found that 55 per cent of Londoners believe the teaching profession should reflect the city's ethnic diversity, while 29 per cent disagreed.
Last year the proportion of black teachers in London was 2.9 per cent. The latest figures for school pupils show that 19.5 per cent are black. The proportion of all non-white pupils in London was 43.5 per cent, while ethnic minority teachers made up 7.4 per cent.
A report commissioned by the London Development Agency to tie in with the conference reported that 70 per cent of African-Caribbean pupils left school with fewer than five high-grade GCSEs.
The report concluded that low teacher expectations played a major part in the underachievement of black children and that black pupils found they were encouraged by black teachers.