Gang culture is something that has been prevalent in all societies. Where there is business there is an underworld, controlled by terror, fear, economic gain and the desire to make money in a capitalist world. In a sense capitalism and modern society are synonymous with crime. Its a causal effect relationship, everything about capitalism breeds the culture of greed and entitlement that serve as the foundation of gang culture.The rise of digital media has coincided with a greater depiction and what I believe to be promotion of gang culture. Through music, television and social media, gang culture has been marketed as cool and as result been infused with pop culture.

Initially, when I saw the show ‘Inside The Gang’ being advertised by Channel 5 I was disappointed in the network, I no longer feel this way. Not that I in anyway condone their consistent promotion of these negative images with shows such as this one and previous shows like Gangland, however I do feel that the responsibility to dispel these images falls equally on the people. As people we have been shown time and time again that the establishment refuses to work in our best interests, so why are we ever surprised when shows like this are aired?

The news and the media work and exist based on principles of newsworthiness and sensationalism and while it would be nice to have a media industry that promoted better images , I do not see this happening anytime soon. The statistics are startling, ethnic minority people are overwhelmingly portrayed in a negative light in the media. Research shows that young men from ethnic minority backgrounds are more often than not depicted as criminals in the media. For example, studies by Birmingham University showed that between 1996 and 2006 coverage of Islam in the media increased by 270%, 94% of that coverage could be considered ‘negative’ and warned that if this were to continue it could have lasting effects on cohesion in British Communities.. Surveys also showed that around 64% of the British public gathered their understanding of Islam from the media.

I say this to say if we are aware of the bias in the media and its tendency to do more harm than good, We need to control our own narratives and teach the children better rather than expecting the institutions that have let us down over and over again to do so. Whether we boycott shows like Gangland and Inside The Gang, songs and movies about gang culture or we produce our own products to counter this image, we must act. However what we mustn’t do is entertain the nonsense, for if you entertain a clown you become part of the circus.

All over the country today their are plenty of young people doing brilliant things, young people who serve as much better role models for the youth than the ones that the media regularly promote. Our job is to uplift these young people, celebrate positivity and show them that their efforts to help better society are not going unnoticed, rather than focused in the very small minority who get caught in the whirlwind of negativity that is gang life.

SIBW, Asya Valentine.

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