Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Further Thoughts on the Riots

There was a lot of destruction caused by the riots across London and the UK a few weeks ago. As ever, my first thought is, why did people feel the need to riot, loot and burn?

Obviously, as I said in previous posts, people are angry. There is a lot of anger being expressed in these situations. I believe a big contributing factor is that the government has refused to listen to what people want. And it is still refusing to listen.

Why is there so much anger and disssatisfaction? We can only find out by asking the people involved.

There has been an enormous amount of speculation. And an enormous amount of stereotyping.

We need an alternative. We need to turn this situation around.

The media have blamed "young people" for the rioting and destruction, although only about 20% of the people involved have been under 18 years of age.

The media have stereotyped the Black community as rioters and looters. The Evening Standard was full of photos of African people being taken to court. But the truth is somewhat different.

Black community leaders have taken it on themselves to try to address what have been long-standing problems between young Black people and the police. These problems certainly may have contributed to the events of a few weeks ago.

The shooting of a young Black man, lies and rumours about this incident, and the assault by police officers on a young woman on a peaceful demonstration may well have contributed. But people of many different racial and cultural backgrounds took part in the rioting and looting.

Orthodox Jewish people were filmed at the riots in North London.

The fact that white people have been rioting in London since last year has been all but forgotten.

In Nonviolent Communication (NVC), we say that people's actions are always an attempt to meet a need.

In order to get someone to do what you want, you first need to give empathy to that person. That is, you have to connect with that person's feelings and needs. For more about this, click here to read my article on Nonviolent Communication.

I have not heard any empathy at all from the government or the media, although I have heard empathy from some of our community leaders.

Mostly what I have been hearing is "bring in the Army", "bring in water cannons", "impose harsh sentences". This is the opposite of empathy. This is a fear reaction and does not address the causes of the rioting.

At a recent meeting in London of the African People's Parliament, which had met to discuss issues arising from the riots, the police sent a helicopter and shined a light on the door of the building.

We need to use different methods, as I said previously. I saw this coming, as I said on a previous post. And I predict more rioting as long as the government continues with this blame game, and continues to avoid dealing with the underlying issues.

It takes an enormous amount of courage to say, "we will not give in to fear. We will not give vent to our violent impulses". But this is what we need to do.

People need to stop posturing, stop pointing the finger and start using more effective methods.

Click here for my workshps in London.

We have been presented with a golden opportunity to turn things around. Let's use it.

Please leave your comments below.

1 comment:

About Beauford Delaney said...

Hi Zhana,

I just listened to the interview on African Remembrance Day and enjoyed both the story of the Haitian Revolution and the comments on the rioting that has recently rocked the UK. Truly fascinating! I was surprised and saddened at how similar the situation is between black British youth and African-American youth.