The Evening Standard published a story today with the headline: “I THOUGHT MY TWINS WERE AT THE GYM DURING RIOT BUT NOW THEY ARE IN CUSTODY.”

Linette Livingstone was shocked to find out her twin boys, 19-year old Icah and Micha Livingstone had been arrested for allegedly taking part in the looting of Curry’s in Brixton.  They were then ordered  by a judge to be reprimanded as he feared if they were released they could continue to riot.

Of the incident Ms Livingstone said:

“They are good boys and they don’t need to steal. That is not how I raised them.

“They were just in the area but the police rounded everyone up and now they are in prison. It will kill them. They are not street wise, they are not like that.”

Many of us will agree that not knowing where your child is fundamentally wrong. I’m 22 years old and my parents still expect me to let them know where I’m going and who I’m with, information I gladly share with them because a)I have nothing to hide and b) if anything were to happen to me at least they would know where I was planning on going.

But let us not underestimate the manipulative nature of any human. Have u always told your parents were you were really going? Yes this is an extreme situation but parents don’t always have control over their children and children don’t always have respect for their parents. As a mother this woman is probably feeling a mixture of emotions so I won’t sit here and throw a barrel of stones from a glass house.

I must stress that these are allegations and therefore I cannot comment on the individual case. However what I will say is that the past three days have shown how very easy we find it to assume that based on someone’s race, age, or style of dress that they would be more or less likely to taken part in these destructive events. Though the practice is nothing new, the use of stereotypes I believe has almost become part of our human nature. It appears this intangible concept walked side by side with the evolution of man and has become part of our DNA.  Let me explain.

We use stereotypes to make sense of the world. It helps us to categorise people, put them in boxes so when we come face to face with certain groups we know how to ‘deal’ with them. We expect them to say certain things and have certain mannerisms so when they don’t we are shocked; confronted with an unfamiliarity because the familiar is what we require, to be able to function during the  formalities of everyday life. One thing the recent UK riots have taught me is that many of us, whether we say it behind close doors or in our open plan offices at work define each other through stereotypes. By this I mean we use stereotypes that have both negative connotations.

We do this because it is the unknown we fear. If we go along with the stereotype that all the looters/rioters were people who live off benefits, sponging off  the state when they are more than capable of working, which is indeed another stereotype in itself, this makes it so much easier for us to be able to process and comprehend why someone would behave in such a manner. Instead of using our own initiative and think for ourselves, we rely upon stereotypes that have been indoctrinated  into society, which functions as doing our thinking for us.

In all honesty I do not think the rioters/looters were entirely made up of those who are angry, disaffected or feel let down by the social infrastructure put in place by the government. Some of them were opportunists; opportunists from a range of backgrounds who took part for a number of reasons. Either because their friends were participating or they got caught up in the excitement or they lack a strong sense of wilfulness. Of course there’s mob mentality, strength in numbers causing a strange an image of conformity. Even there hooded heads and covered up faces worn by many acted like a uniform which I think subconsciously encourages oneness.

Thinking outside of the box and taking someone for what they do and say, but not what they look like is an effort and for many, using stereotypes is the easy way out. But I guarantee these riots are going to be a wake up call for many parents, families and young people and I think we should all prepare ourselves for it.




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