Following the recent spate of gun crimes in Hackney, sentiments were expressed on local blogs and forums that seemed to suggest that the black community needed to react and take responsibility for ‘black crime’.
Some suggested that black people should organise and hold a march against gang violence. Others said that the black community lacked the focus to look at itself and ask why black people are involved in violent crime. It seems there are a number of Hackney citizens who would like its black community to claim responsibility for these sad events.
My response to such comments has been firstly: who exactly are we referring to as the black community? After all, black people are, like others, diverse. Are we referring to a middle-income earning, tax-paying black St Lucian who lives in Stoke Newington? Or perhaps, to a benefits-receiving black Guinean who lives on a Clapton council estate? Who makes up this ‘black community’ needing to lead the responsibility revolution?
Secondly: I respond by suggesting that we all bear equal responsibility for reducing crime. No ethnic group is more, or less, obliged to create a safe environment in which we can all live. In fact, there are anti-crime organisations operating in Hackney, such as Pinnacle or Catch 22, whose multi-ethnic members have understood this for many years.
In no other public policy domain do we still seem to accept racial division as a solution, rather than a cause. We need to build a sense of unity if we want to tackle crime in Hackney and it’s up to all of us to support initiatives that recreate solidarity, that reclaim and empower our community./ 4 November, 2010