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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 26 June, 2002, 13:32 GMT 14:32 UK
"Black on black" gun violence discussion
Guns
"Black on black" gun violence discussion

JEREMY PAXMAN:
We are joined now by three guests who have personal knowledge and experience of this issue. Firstly Kwame McKenzie, Mohamed Kabia of the Peckham Positive Project and Geoff Schumann a broadcaster with Choice FM. This is a serious problem isn't it?

MOHAMED KABIA:
Yes it is appalling and very sad indeed, as a black person. What is imperative in this information is for us as a community to think seriously about addressing the issues.

JEREMY PAXMAN:
Kwame McKenzie, you deal with these youths, Mica Paris used the expression about, a bomb waiting to go off, how much like a tinderbox are some of these young men?

DR KWAME MCKENZIE:
On an individual basis you might find people who are a tinderbox, but I think it is worth looking at things on a wider basis. Really look at the community in general and the first thing to mention is this is a small minority of people. There are positive things going on.

PAXMAN:
Nobody wishs to give the impression this is a general phenomenon, but it is a worrying phenomena.

MCKENZIE:
It is a worrying phenomena in the black community at the moment. You could look through the country and find other socially excluded communities where there have been problems in the past. Where you have social exclusion, you find people developing alternative ways of gaining , I think they said in the film, respect, power, anger and those are negatives but the other positive thing that was there was that these are people who are wanting to succeed and the question is where are the pathways for people to succeed?

GEOFF SCHUMANN:
I talk from many years in the inner cities and looking at an old class register of 22 young men of whom 13 were African-Caribbean, 12 have been through the penal system. I host a chat show in London in which these issues are often discussed and it is to do with pathways. One of the major things the Government hasn't tackled is an economy and a sub-culture is developed amongst these young people. Why would young people who openly look like each other go about openly taking each other's lives. People are dependent on that money for food.

PAXMAN:
You are saying this is economic crime?

SCHUMANN:
Absolutely. You don't go around walking into a night-club with a machine gun and shoot people just because you don't like the music they are listening to. It is part of the reality.

KABIA:
I think it is a simplistic thing to think it is a wholly economic point. I disagree with that. Or else you have poor people smashing shops and taking things. There are people worse off than these guys who commit these crimes.

SCHUMANN:
We are talking in the context of the culture created.

KABIA:
I have taught in London for ten good years and I know there are problems with youngsters. We as a community need to take a responsible attitude to address some of these problems rather than get into a blame game and a victim mentality which is unfortunate.

PAXMAN:
Do you think that is what is happening now?

KABIA:
I have not been here that long but the fact that 14 years of my presence in this society and the contribution I have made I have come to realise we need to take the initiative as responsible black people.

SCHUMANN:
Your education has enabled you to see things different from those who have not had that education. You should understand, I'm not being an apologist for the behaviour that happens amongst some of the errant minority in my community but you have to have an understanding of the psychology. You have to understand the psychological effects and the damage done by a poor educational system¿

PAXMAN:
Hang on, he is the psychiatrist.

MCKENZIE:
There is a fundamental question to ask ourselves. People are doing things that are wrong and nobody is making an apology for that and yes we have to take some responsibility yourselves, but you have to ask yourselves how do people get into the situation where being involve in a gun culture is a better bet than being involved in a wider society?

PAXMAN:
What is your answer to that?

MCKENZIE:
Why, because if you ask me it is quite clear these are people who want to get on who have these thwarted aspirations. They are being shown the life they could have, on movies or whatever and they can't do it. The education system, say for instance in Peckham¿

KABIA:
They are not the only people.

PAXMAN:
Some people are expressing themselves. The question is how you go about getting them back so they don't behave in that fashion?

KABIA:
It is not an excuse for violent behaviour against anybody. What is happening here is we tend to centralise this issue which is perpetuated by a minority of people and it is creating racial stereotypes that black people are more likely to be violent. As a responsible community, for example, my friend over there is a responsible person in charge of Choice FM, we could pass on information and tell youngsters there are alternative pathways.

SCHUMANN:
But you defeat your own argument...

KABIA:
Let me just finish my point here. I was in meetings with eminent black people. What came out of those meetings was that people were quite educated for that period but then things fizzle out, they could not carry out these promises and some of us in the thick and thin of things like the doctor here, I am sure he works with grass root issues. I give advice, and I think that is a pathway we need to take.

PAXMAN:
Give us a practical suggestion.

SCHUMANN:
An example would be that there has been mistrust between the black community and the Metropolitan Police, the positive response was set up by the black community. You have people like Lee Jasper who are in positions of power and looking to recruit the right kind of people to make the right kinds of noises. Why is someone like Kwame McKenzie, who has a handle dealing with frontline services, not being called in by anyone at the Government to write a paper. Very meaningful people in the community, not just at grass roots, not just academics, could offer possible solutions, but are not being spoken to.

PAXMAN:
Let's ask Kwame McKenzie the great uncalled upon Oracle on this. Can you suggest some practical steps?

MCKENZIE:
Unfortunately this is part of the problem. This is a complex system and people do ask you to say what can you do now. One of the things we were talking about earlier is if you have somebody, say one of these minority people making large amounts of money from whatever crime they are making, how are you going to get them back into society. You are not going to get them onto a restart course. These things all have a progression over time you do have to start from the beginning. You have to get the education right, you have to get people positive pathways. You have to look into different sectors of society. You have to think about how you are going to get money, proper loans for people to start up business, in certain communities, you have to think about community development.

PAXMAN:
You three can continue this setting the world to rights outside.

This transcript was produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight. It has been checked against the programme as broadcast, however Newsnight can accept no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies. We will be happy to correct serious errors.

See also:

24 Jun 02 | Newsnight
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