Monday, August 8, 2011

Takin' It To The Streets

You don't know me
but I'm your brother
I was raised here in
this living hell
You don't know my kind
in your world
Fairly soon the
time will tell

You, telling me the things
you're gonna do for me
I ain't blind and I don't
like what I think I see

(Takin' it to the streets)
Takin' it to the streets
(Takin' it to the streets)
Takin' it to the streets

-- Doobie Brothers, "Takin' It To The Streets"

So, finally, the underclass in Britain has had enough. The surprise is not that these riots have happened now; it's that it hasn't happened since the mid-1980s.

I lived on the outskirts of Brixton in 1981, and even in those pre-BlackBerry, pre-Twitter days, it was not difficult for a mob of angry people to get going and create havoc in no time at all. I can remember streets being closed off, helicopters flying overhead, and the smell of smoke in the air for weeks afterwards. I knew people in Lewisham, Peckham, and other places where the rioting in 1981 spread, and everyone was frightened then.

But what has been done since the 1980s to address even some of the problems that led to those riots? From where I'm sitting, it looks like absolutely nothing has been done. The distance between the rich and the poor has grown even wider, and it's no secret that there are entire council estates populated by people who have never had a job, never had a chance to get a proper education, and have in many respects become more and more invisible.

And here's a news flash: the same conditions exist in the United States. And what will happen when the underclass in the United States rises up?

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