Black Kids, Time To Be Loving and Spoil Them A Little

I am white, my family is Mixed, perhaps we need to try a new thing to keep our kids safe.


Every Black or Mixed family (yeah I said it, I put Mixed families in the mix) in the Western World have to have “The Talk” with their children.  The talk on how to keep safe, how to interact with Police and other authorities.

I am White, very White, yet I’ve had The Talk with my family because my family is ethnically diverse.

Something I heard recently which has resonated is that the raising of Black Kids or Mixed Kids is to be hard on them, to prepare them to interface with how the world is going to interface with them, to get used to the idea that they will be harassed.  To be physically rough a little, to yell a little, to be super demanding on grades at school.  And there is merit in preparation.

HOWEVER, that’s pretty much not the tack I have approached.  Perhaps because I didn’t have to grow up in that sense or feeling of being oppressed.  Perhaps as a direct result of being white.  Perhaps because I wasn’t particularly raised that way.  I was raised Irish-ish in England – “obey your parents, pinch of salt everyone else”.

I have noticed that I have chosen to make the family aware of the challenges Black Kids face when going about their ordinary business.

But I have tried to raise my family with a sense of belonging, of expectation, of belonging, of being able to absolutely count on having someone in her corner, of expecting that she will take opportunities as they are presented to her, that if she chooses she can obviously attend University, that as she chooses she can obviously have the career of her choice, that she can count on daily hugs, of affirmative words in the home, of being happy to see her, of parental strictness and cultural protocols, of gentleness and kindness from her parents hands and everyone else in her sphere of influence, that we will not let her coast along flying under the radar, that we know who she is and she has a responsibility to raise her game.

Perhaps it was because I was raised in a white household without those long reaching external influences and fears that my family now has had the freedom to be raised in a similar environment.  Perhaps it has been entirely the wrong message to give her, this after all is a 40 year experiment I have got going on.  Perhaps life will hit her like a freight train, the same freight train which used to roll past my front door in the childhood family home.

I fear for her, I know full well what the world can do and how brutally lives can change in an instant.

However, I believe if she is not raised in a fearful of “them” home she will not interact fearfully with authority and this will smooth the edges of the interaction.  Her body language screams positivity and “I’m English, I belong, I will interact with you in a mutually respectful manner” which is disarming and hopefully safety assuring.

Now, she’s had the privilege of being raised in a town in the Countryside of England and all of the insulated safety that provides, but has been to the City Of London frequently to take advantage of all that offers and visit with family who are based there.  She has frequently experienced racism but so what.  She’s not a country bumpkin but instead some kind of hybrid city/country kid, she see’s the world but doesn’t have to fear the world.

Perhaps, if we can, we parents of kids who look ethnically diverse could hug our kids more frequently than we yell at them about how other people will interact, we’ll raise a more confident generation who feel they belong and in tandem with demanding that authorities treat them right, they’ll start to exude a sense of calmness and exude very little fear.


Jury’s out.  I’ll let you know how it went in another 23 years.


Unpalatable Conversations

London had a rough few days and arrests are being made in my home town. There’s a strong narrative in the air.

Tricky, innit.  The desire to be reasonable and civilised while feeling emotional at extremists rampaging through the Capital.

Like half the people I know, I was born in East London but grew up in a town called Barking which is near London.  If London and Essex were one of those circular Venn diagrams it would be the intersection of the two circles.  It is smack bang in the middle of all the troubles at London Bridge and arrests on Saturday 3rd June 2017 and in the days since.

My social media feed and my conversations with friends and family are filled with two narratives, often simultaneous but sometimes polarized.  The conversations flow around “Kill them, hang ’em, bang ’em up, ship ’em back to where they came from” verses “we have to find a way to weed out and deal with the radicals and those who contaminate the conversation”.

My view, I believe the police union representative yesterday during a televised interview who said the conversation around increasing police numbers by 2020 will only bring us back to pre 2010 levels which was just before funding cuts and anyone who says otherwise is lying.

Police are pulling double shifts, hospitals are maxed, much of what is known centres around responding – and they are responding fabulously, hats off – rather than having capacity to get ahead of the problems we are experiencing in society.

When the IRA were bombing London, they had a clear ideology to unite Northern and Southern Ireland and self govern.  That was something whether you agreed or not which was tangible and could be a yes or no answer.

The pickle we face nowadays is supposedly to do with imposing an oppressive ideology upon a free nation or punishing those who live in liberty – and that’s never going to fly.

Have you met people from London, whether native or new?  Have you met people from Barking where many of the arrests are occurring?

Barking bloomed in the 50’s and 60’s as a new neighbourhood for the cleared East London overcrowding and slums.  It was a beautiful town, green, spacious, tremendous infrastructure and industry.  It was almost nirvana.  Since mass overflow immigration in the past 20 years seeping in to the town from Central London, it is starting to look worn and no longer British.  The original locals are not pleased with these negative changes.

The people who populated Barking and Dagenham had just endured the Blitz and survived two back to back world wars.  They’re not soft.  They’re really hard as nails and haven’t had anything against which to fight for quite some time.  They’re funny, humorous, entrepreneurial, hard working, fun loving and family oriented. Unfortunately for those who seek to oppress Londoners, you got the backs up of people who call it home.

So while I can understand the sentiment of the hang ’em high brigade, I’m going to go with supporting our Police officers as they operate within the framework of existing and suitable laws and try and be a voice of “yes, those folks who have separated themselves and wish to cause harm to the population need to be dealt with, but not with such vitriol, not yet” for the next while.

But when the blood is pumping that’s a tricky ask.