From Crib to Criminal
The title of the podcast that I listened to for this blog post is, Growing up With Gangs, Poverty, and Knife Crime which was produced by Joshua Kelly from Today in Focus on December 23, 2019. I found this podcast on Spotify and it immediately peaked my interest. Growing up With Gangs, Poverty, and Knife Crime is about a reporter named, Phillip Alston, who spends four months at a youth club in West London, England called The Bollo. Here he meets two teenage boys and others who explain their hardships with living in such an impoverished area. The big contributor to their decision making process and livelihood is the outlet that most tend to seek of gang membership. Not only is there one gang in this area, but there are two who are very present and have an intense rivalry that is very much so alive and well. Because of this, a lot of youth clubs in the London area began to close down. Violence has gotten out of hand and inequality continues to grow in West London. Housing is impossible to obtain and the only place that the youth have to go to that was not school or home was being demolished for middle-class housing. These kids continuously struggle and have lived their lives with the government placing a band-aid on their problems instead of taking care of their problems. Throughout the podcast, multiple kids who attended the Bollo Youth Club had been killed or charged with murder. Those involved were as young as fifteen. The Bollo Club was moved after the upper middle class cried about their neighborhoods being overpopulated with delinquents. The club agreed to move in hopes that the move would better their environment and remove themselves from the predominant gang activity by leaving it all behind. Unfortunately, the club brought the gang violence and members with it and the middle-class in the new area began to make noise about the club and demanded they be evicted. Their main reasoning was that their community could use it for something for the tenants’ benefit like a laundromat or coffee shop. In the conclusion of the podcast, Alston asked the kids about the petition for their removal and the holiday coming up. The kids responded that they hope that the petition holds out a little longer because a lot of them spend Christmas at the center. I found that to be absolutely heartbreaking and very similar to the United States and our poverty-stricken areas.
I chose this podcast because I thought it would provide us with some interesting insight on other countries and their struggles with poverty and crime. I think it is important to acknowledge that this is a universal problem, not just a nation-wide one. Very much so like Lakish Briggs mentioned in, Not a Crime to be Poor, these kids are being criminalized when in reality they are very much so victims of the system (Edelman, 2019). Briggs was a victim of the law that prohibited citizens from calling 9-1-1 more than three times within four months. She suffered from domestic abuse and did not have one reliable outlet because the people who were supposed to protect her the most, the government and the police, enforced a law as if people like her were an inconvenience. Because of this, Briggs continued her toxic lifestyle and not by choice (Edelman, 2019, p. 135). These kids in London at the Bollo are very similar. They are endlessly rejected and turn to what they know whether it fits their morals or not. They do not have a choice, it is about survival. Another connection I made was with the kids at Bollo and their situation with Sandra Park of the ACLU’s statement. She described the laws I previously discussed as victimizing the victim twice (Edelman, 140). The same idea pertains to the kids in Bollo. They are already victims of inequality, attempt to find a resource to better themselves, and then are run out of that resource by the city. Poverty and its connection to crime is an endless cycle until the government acknowledges the seriousness of poverty and its effects.
Edelman, Peter B. Not a Crime to Be Poor: the Criminalization of Poverty in America. The New Press, 2019.
Kelly, Joshua. “Growing Up With Gangs, Poverty, and Crime.” Today in Focus, performance by Anushka Asthana, and Phillip Alston, 23 Dec. 2019.