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Race and reporting of the London Riots

It isn’t hard to spot where some of the media are heading in their reports in the immediate aftermath of the weekend rioting.  For them, race is the indelible factor, at least where the riots in Tottenham are concerned.

There is no escaping the fact that Mark Duggan, the man shot by the police on Thursday and whose death is seen as the trigger for the riots, was a black man.  Nor the fact that those involved in the ensuing mayhem were largely black.  The two appear to be linked, but where does that leave us?

If you’re an LBC presenter, it would appear that it leads you to try your damnedest to provoke a discussion that has as its starting point, the criminalization of the black community.  So too if you’re the Daily Telegraph in that you would make ceaseless attempts to shoe horn race into every aspect of your reporting of the riots, gleefully feeding the racist underbelly who thrive on division.

There is no justification for what happened. To ‘trash your own community’, a term widely use in reference to the riots, is utter madness.  It’s turning in on yourself, an act of self-annihalation almost, but to expect the young men who were testeroned-up by the adrenalin of confrontation with the police  – their sworn enemy – and excited by the thrill of destruction, to pause and weigh up the pros and cons of destroying the very community in which they live, is asking too much.

But it isn’t asking too much of the media reporting the riots, to exercise some caution in doing so.  Stirring up racist divisions is not an approach any self-respecting journalist ought to be taking.  Progress will not be achieved through stereotyping a whole community.

Black Britons have long suffered from the stereotype of being lazy, uneducated and criminally minded.  No amount of words can do justice to the pain and hurt that such stereotyping has caused.  That the message remains in the nuances and affected subtleties of some of those reporting the London riots, is beneath contempt.

Fine report the ethnic make-up of perpetrators and by all means analyse and conjecture on the how and why but please don’t presume that, if your analysis is posited as being a vivid illustration of the untrustworthiness of a whole community, that such thoughts would go unchallenged.  Without any context or attempt at understanding, it really is just lazy journalism.

Post script:

This is an interesting piece in the Guardian that asks the question: were the riots about race? Click here to find it. The answer…well, it’s complicated.