Series I: The Man, The Gang, & The Mental

From tears of joy to painful nights sobbing over the death of friends and relatives, living in Brixton for over 10 years has played an enormous role in my upbringing. The nights spent laughing over games of FIFA and COD, and chilling in the park after school are some of the best moments of my life. Journeys from Myatts field, past the numerous dirt-white and grey estates, to Somerleyton, where I was regularly greeted by the Jamaican residents who were hanging outside the cornershops or sat outside Somerleyton’s own set of estates, will forever remain with me. But where there is light, we must acknowledge the darkness. That darkness was the thriving gang activity.

Notoriously known for its gangs & violence, Somerleyton has always been an infamous area. Angel Town more so, with Myatts Field having a reputation of its own. I am not ashamed to say I knew, and was friends with some of the gang members. Brixton has been, and always will be, home for us. Although I was never in a gang, and had no desire to be, we all looked out for one another. So it was not strange to shiver as the all too familiar feeling of brotherly love fell on me as I sat with Patrick discussing our past. As a reformed alcoholic and drug addict, Patrick had a long history with the local gang. Continue reading

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Series I: The Man, The Black, & The Mental

Left, right. Front, side. I look around to make sure the coast is clear. A ritual many young black men are accustomed to. Clear. It’s ok for me to make my way to my destination. Call it paranoia, call it fear, but survival is our number one priority. The dread of being attacked, robbed, or even worse, the panic that your mother will hear about your death from a 10 second clip on the BBC news is not amiss amongst young black men.

Coming from a working-class background where my environment was painted in blood-red somber situations, each day felt like a constant battle for your life. A disproportionate number of young black working-class men have internalised this constant fear. They no longer acknowledge that there is something wrong with instinctively looking over their shoulder at each corner they turn, or averting locking eyes with black boys in an area you are not familiar with.

Briefly touching on the topic in a previous piece, I begin my mental health series looking at the black man. What does it mean to be a black man… More specifically, what does it mean to be a working-class black man growing up in a troubled environment? This is a loaded topic and cannot be covered in a simple blog post. Still, I hope to depict and shed light on some of the causes of poor mental health amongst black men.  Continue reading

The Blacker the Berry…

Blinded by the flashing lights,

another blood-soaked salient night.

The darkest skin suffers severely,

still the blacker the berry

the sweeter the juice

drips crimson red, regularly 

leaving trails on the floor, Continue reading

“White privilege doesn’t exist.”

“White privilege doesn’t exist.” The biggest lie I have heard in quite a while. First, let us define white privilege. White privilege is the “right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by white persons beyond the common adverting of all others; an exemption in many particular cases from certain burdens or liabilities.” For those who were born with access to power, it is difficult for them to see, or even acknowledge white privilege. In addition, many white people do not feel as though they have privileges others do not, making white privilege even more difficult to accept.

As a young black male, I have had to constrain myself and behave in a manner that would prevent the reinforcement of stereotypical views of my race. Before, when around white people who have limited knowledge of the culture I grew up with, subconsciously I became a victim of Continue reading