Can We Ever Escape Our Roots?

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Written by Ashleigh Donaldson on in Grampian and Tayside

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A recent article featured in The Guardian online looked at how we cannot hide away from our history of gritty youth culture. This past Friday, rapper Giggs was found not guilty of possession of firearms with intent to endanger life. Giggs, whose real name is Nathaniel Thompson, is a popular recording artist. Growing up in a rough area, he got involved with drugs and gang culture and in 2003, went to prison for firearms charges. Afterwards he quickly began to think of rapping as a career rather than just a pastime. Although he has had success, and on account of his recent trouble with the law, it begs the question; can we ever escape our roots? If a young person is from a rough area, does this automatically mean they are doomed for a life of crime? Gang culture is an issue which is still very relevant today. However, far too often young people are tarred with the same brush. This stigma may be based on their appearance, attitude, where they are from and the people they associate themselves with.

“Someday I’m gonna settle down with a wife. Come on lads lets have another fight” -The Streets, The Irony of it all

It’s not hard to understand why life in a gang can be inviting for young people. Some may be drawn by the sense of belonging and having people accept you. For others, it may be that they grow up in a neighbourhood where it is almost a way of life. Being in a gang may provide young people with self protection from other gangs in the area. Another article featured in The Guardian online was written by ex gang member himself, Karl Lokko. He describes being in a gang as an ‘addiction’ and it wasn’t until help from a lady in the community taught him the error of his ways and led him in a better direction. The money, status and power that came with being a gang member prevented Karl from leaving, as his prospects grew weaker and weaker, the more he became involved in violence and drugs. Karl is now a youth ambassador and plans to open the first UK gang rehabilitation centre. Although not everyone has the same opportunity to change their lives, this success story shows that it is possible to escape gang culture and led a healthier lifestyle. Whilst it is true that many young people are involved with gang culture, the majority of them are not. Most teenagers have never even carried a knife, used or threatened violence or been involved in gangs.

So can we ever escape our roots? Does growing up in a rough area increase your chances of being involved with gangs? Or is this just another way of stereotyping young people?

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