Blogger Lisa Bent

Blogger Lisa Bent

Check out fellow blogger Lisa Bent’s brilliant open letter to misguided  gang members.

We live in a time when the biggest threat on the street is from someone who looks like you. This concept is so alien to me because years before, the threat would have come from the National Front, The Klu Klux Klan and many years before that, the slave master.  If you knew your history you would consider this prospect with shame. If you fully understood the many hazards of your lifestyle and  how your premature death would affect your friends and family, what would you change about your actions? If you had the gift of foresight and you could literally see the shock, trauma and suffering that your mother will experience as she identifies your body in the morgue, what would you change about your actions?

If you are going to live for something, live for something with meaning, moralistic stance and value that will change your life and the lives of others as your ancestors did. The street that you are repping and dying on, is probably the same pavement that your ancestors laid and built years before, for little or nothing. You are killing yourself more than once. You see, killing your brother i.e your mirror image is also killing yourself. No matter how you want to dress it up or what excuse you want to give, self-hate is at play here. If you loved yourself you would not and could not hurt another, especially someone who looked like you.
There is a disconnection amongst our own and although I can probably join the dots to make the connection, you have to do your own soul searching as to why you have chosen to do what you do. A choice based in fear is still a choice. I understand and see the intense pressure that is on you, I can see that it’s not easy, but this is not okay and it will never be okay to be a killer, rapist, mugger, drug dealer, groomer, sexual abuser  or violent to others.  These words and actions may be alien to you in your gang world, but that is what you are due to pressure, initiation, ego, group rules, group think and so much more. Actions that are wrong in wider society become the norm in the gang world as they are laced in reasons that are justified. You are living in a society within a society and as a result are disconnected from the wider community.
Being in a gang is the biggest illusion of being in a family. Let me remind you that a family, a positive functioning family involves people who love you and look out for you and nurture you, in the promotion of you becoming your best, with boundaries. Whether your mum and dad are together or you are from a single parent family, you have one or two people to answer too. In a gang there may be one or more gang leaders; the structure within this “family” is very different and the repercussions are more harmful than in your immediate family. Where do you fit in within this big structure? There will be playing off and against games, what will you be willing to do to avoid embarrassment and to get the external validation and love you seek? The whole construct is one of fight or flight, how do you cope in this intense surroundings? How do you form healthy relationships? How do you live with blood on your hands? Do you sleep? I predict there are many young people in gangs who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder  and paranoia due to their lifestyle. The government estimates there are 250 gangs in greater London of which there are 32 boroughs. As a result how many different gangs live at the end of your road? You have created your own prisons, physically and mentally, for what? 
Whether you joined for protection, extended family or the “glamour” of it, I am here to tell you, you will be disappointed which I hope you are able to acknowledge for yourselves. You may have the latest jewellery, clothes and money but are you happy? Are you free? Really think about it. If the answer is yes than I am afraid you are a slave. No not in the same historical context as time before, but the modern sense that I will name for you in order for you to hopefully get it. In a gang you do as you are told. As a drug pusher, hustler you are serving someone else and not getting much in return. You are under-paid, under-valued and replaceable. The goal posts constantly shift and you are likely to be stitched up, stabbed, mugged or feel hard done by numerous times. You cannot come and go as you please, you my friend are someone else’s robot, a dogs body. In fact you are no different from that Pit ball who is mistreated by its owner and used as a weapon and form of protection. The dog is obedient because it’s fearful and wants to be loved and liked. It is loyal but mistreated and due to the treatment has turned into something it innately is not. 
You are a slave to your phone because you are a slave to the customer and supplier, on call 24 hours a day. An empire built within an illegal space means it is filled with hazards. Who is listening to your call? who is following you? Is anyone following your supplier as you meet? Is anyone following your customer as you exchange? Do you carry a weapon? How could you protect yourself with a knife, if they have a gun? It’s easy to see how you don’t sleep. How could you sleep with all of these stresses? Its been said that the stresses and pressures of gang members/drug dealers is akin to that of a city banker but without the money and glamorous lifestyle. It is a  highly stressed existence with no real rewards.
Everyone has a conscience, it never goes. Yours is probably lying dormant, you have numbed it as a survival coping mechanism.  If you want to change you can, but first you have to realise and admit that this is not where you should be. Many people once convicted of a serious crime, have the time in prison to reflect upon their decisions, behaviour and attitudes. In time of reflection through stillness, the conscience stirs and the opportunity to look at self, actions and path begins. Why wait until you are in prison to re-discover who you are?
Extend your perspective further afield, beyond the end of your street and widen your vision to see your numerous potential and possibilities.
With Love
Lisa x
P.s If this letter has resonated in anyway and you want to talk to someone then take a look at the below sites as a start…
Gangs Disruption Project

© Lisa Bent 2013
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October 2013
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