From gang members to boardroom directors
A view from the street.
Streatham MP Chuka Umunna will make a speech today in Parliament about gang members possessing business acumen that could be channelled into legal enterprises. Controversially Umunna says, 'Gang members show entrepeneurial zeal.' I couldn't agree more.
A considerable amount of young, black boys today aim to get rich and will sadly do so by any means necessary – many look up to drug lords like Lucas, Escobar and Noriega. Hip Hop culture and the flashy lifestyle that comes with it have also had a major impact on their aspirations. Of course not every black boy wants to be the next Rick Ross or Jay-Z, but for those that do, money is the motive. Drug dealing, for too many young boys, is the route to ‘success’.
Whether we accept it or not, the reality is that the drug empires that are managed by gang members require a large amount of skill, co-ordination, and a good understanding of market forces. Why shouldn’t these skills be used to build useful, legal enterprises such as social media networks or even shipping companies?
Interestingly, I recently read an article by Harriet Sergeant and was particularly struck by her point that the government throws money at inefficient agencies that do not do their jobs. She is right.
A group of middle aged men, unable to think beyond their own comfortable existence may not have what it takes to help a 19 year old boy on the Pembury Estate in Hackney who has not had any opportunities in life. Politicians need to engage with the youth, make them feel like they are being listened to and most importantly, act in a creative and effective way.
So much money has been poured into the social services, yet they still manage to fail hundreds of young people every year. Why? The answer is simple – money is fed into the wrong places and the youths that really need help fall by the wayside.
The government does not realise that its institutions are simply not working. Ministers claim they are doing all they can to help young people, but they are blind to the real challenges these young people face. Although Sergeant does not come up with a detailed solution, she has highlighted the urgent need for careful reform of the government’s services. Young people are continuously being let down by the system and this must be addressed as soon as possible.
To some extent, it is valid to say that young people don’t do much to help themselves, but it is also fair to say that they simply do not know how to help themselves. Even if they did, would they really feel like they could genuinely succeed in life? Crime is what they know.
This country needs more people like Harriet Sergeant and Chuka Umunna who can show young people the compassion and understanding they desperately need; who do not want to demonise and label young people, but give them a way out.
At first glance, Sergeant does not come across as somebody one would expect to befriend and empathise with a gang of boys from South London. She is from a completely different walk of life. Yet she is a prime example of how possible it is for politicians to help those youths that need it the most.