This phone in debate on the topic of banning young people from wearing hoods discussed the issue of stereotypes and how to encourage young people to conform to the whim of those who were intimidated by them.
Angie Le Mar
During the debate several callers explained how intimidated they were by the attire young people wear. Many expressed their beliefs that hoods and baggy trousers were synonymous with crime. Unfortunately instead of listening to and defending the children who were being demonised by these stereotypes the show continued to perpetrate them. There has been much debate at a national and government level on this topic eroding the right of expression for young people. In contrast, recent reports about the apparent disappearance of over three hundred African children has been given a much lower profile. Whilst older Britons may not find the attire fashionable or attractive that is no excuse for them to impose their vision of ‘decent’ youth identity onto our children. Many of the callers seem to have forgotten that when they were growing up they too were labelled ‘intimidating’ and criminalised simply for having brown skin and ‘dangerous’ afro combs.
Today the hypocrisy of those adults who are in turn parroting the words of media pundits and politicians in this thinly veiled attack on young African children is astonishing. If the government called for all people wearing locks to cut them off because it made others feel intimidated, and there was ‘statistics’ proving that those with locks were more likely to commit crime would they still be in support? If not, then we should think hard before advocating that our children should not wear hoods because the majority of people who believe derogatory racial and cultural stereotypes want to feel safe.
In a related debate on BBC Newsnight they used archive images of Eminem and associated the hood with ‘urban’ hip-hop culture whilst in a subsequent article within the Guardian newspaper they used various images of English boys and called it the ‘hoodie debate’. Yet most of this is camouflage. The attack on hoods is an attack on ‘urban’ hip-pop, an attack on hip-pop is also an attack on African British youth culture. Regardless of what we may feel about the content of much of the material released by major ‘urban’ record labels and broadcast by irresponsible media institutions. When our children are continuously demonised by harmful stereotypes in the populist media it is our job to protect them and their developing social identities. Of course we should, and do criticise them when they do wrong, but just as we should always seek to guide them away from ‘urban’ lifestyles we must proactively work to instil positive moral and Africentric cultural values.
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