Another young man has been stabbed and killed in Camberwell, the area where I have been working in a school for the last two years.
Just a week ago, another teenager was stabbed and dumped off the back of a moped in the same area, and later died.
Two mothers grieving. But nothing is changing.
As a white, middle-class woman, I am buffered from having to fear this specific type of violence. Yes, I fear other violence, but in reality, I can afford to hear these headlines and comfort myself by saying ‘Oh, it is gang-related’.
How dare I do that.
I think of the little kids I’ve had in my class the last year. A range of personalities, likes, dislikes and races. They are all eager to learn about the world around them and full of fears and joys. They love dinosaurs and slime and reading and getting things right and hugs and bubbles and football and fairies.
There is something acutely painful and yet SO important in seeing young, young children together, of so many different races. Because racism is shown up for exactly what it is. Real, and utterly evil.
Some people might say, that young black men dying is ‘gang-related, so really what can we do?’
I would say, it is EVERYBODY’S fault.
It is the system’s fault.
I am not going to speak about a black person’s experience, because I only know my lens of privilege as a white person in a white-centred world that sees white as ‘neutral’.
But I know it is wrong, that young black children already seem to face barriers before they are even old enough to leave school.
One little boy, with big eyes and always eager to be first with his hand up, told me a few days before the summer holidays,
‘Miss, I love school, I don’t ever want to go home.’
Knowing he lives streets away from where this violence is happening, and growing up in an environment that may pigeonhole him as a black boy, I only hope as a society we start caring about the young black men being stabbed in the street, and try and figure out WHY this is happening, not just when it’s a white face on the front of a newspaper.
Isn’t a black mother’s tears worth just as much as a white mother’s?