The senseless violence, looting, arson and rioting that happened in London and other parts of the UK last week is indefensible. And so it’s understandable that everyone including myself is trying to better understand the root causes of this savage behaviour.
However, for the historian and broadcaster David Starkey to blame it on black culture and then equate black culture with gangsta culture is just beyond infuriating. Furthermore, David just shows himself to be a truly narrow-minded individual with the following incendiary statement:
‘A substantial section of the chavs have become black. The whites have become black. A particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion. Black and white, boy and girl operate in this language together. This language which is wholly false, which is a Jamaican patois, that’s been intruded in England and this is why so many of us have this sense of literally a foreign country.’
Not only is this career ending comment inflammatory, but it is also dangerous and has the potential to cause further violence and unrest. Particularly as he brings up Enoch Powell — another racist, who warned more than 40 years ago that immigration would ultimately cause conflict across our cities.
Yes initial protest was due to a black man being killed by a white police officer but the subsequent rioting and looting that happened last week especially outside of London, had little to do with race — particularly when you factor in that there were looters across the racial divide and asian, white and black shopkeepers/businesses all came under assault. This was pure opportunistic theft and destruction.
Thus Starkey needs to shut his mouth. Other factors were at play here. More importantly, he knows very little about black culture. He is a historian whose speciality is the Tudor dynasty and Tudor period. He has zero credibility on this subject. So enough already with the racist stereotypes and generalisations. This is the last thing we need right now.
Yes the glorification of materialism in some gangsta rap songs perhaps influenced some of these youth to target particular stores — but gangta rap music is but one type of hip hop music — and hip hop music/culture which has gone mainstream is only one aspect of black culture. Furthermore, black culture with its many facets, does not equal gangsta culture.
That all being said, you can listen for yourself as Starkey so passionately makes his bigoted argument:
Utterly shocking. Thankfully, he was challenged on the BBC program but definitely not robustly enough. Below you will find a more compelling defence from Comedian Nabil Abdul Rashid.