On the day of the field trip we spoke to various people, two of which we recorded.
The ones we didn’t record said:
Man in an India fabric shop:
He doesn’t feel dafe because of his faith and skin colour, and since 911 he believes he is thought of as a terrorist.
Hector Pickney MBE aka “Mr Handsworth”
He knows Handsworth isn’t perfect but he feels the more people mix from different cultures, backgrounds and ethnicities the better Handsworth will become.
Not bad, he hasn’t lived or worked in Handsworth for long but he says there is no gang crime like the media claims it has.
Ice cream sellers (who were under 20)
They have grown up in Handsworth but never had any issues or noticed any. But when their parent’s moved there they had some issues.
Caribbean take away owner:
From Birmingham, not Handsworth. He feels everyone mixes, lots of different races come into his shop. Although when he was younger there was a divide.
Most of the these are fairly positive, however the ones we recorded were quite negative. We also noticed a theme of people referring to the media portraying Handsworth in a negative way. So I decoded to look into this:
The Guardian has a good news story about how to rival gangs, one based in Handsworth the other Aston became allies. However, the fact that there was issues like stabbing and shootings only up until recently hows how bad it was.
Many articles bring up a shooting of innocent bystanders Letisha Shakespeare and Charlene Ellis who were shot dead when they found themselves in the middle of gang fight in 2003.
There are other crime stories based in Handsworth like a violent robbery.
Another article suggests that what “Mr Handsworth” is saying is wrong. That as Handsworth gets more multicultural the community doesn’t come together it creates more friction. However, this article seems very racist saying things like “these scum bags are not fit to call themselves British”. However this still shows animosity between cultures.
I wanted to test this “media perception with statistics and facts.
For example crime and justice shows news items from within certain areas this is from within Handsworth.
Also crime maps shows the amount of crime in certain months and in March 2014 alone there was 277 crimes reported of which 51 were violent or sexual assaults. Compared to Evington, Leicester another very diverse and multicultural area which had 52 crimes reported in March 2014 of which 8 were violent or sexual assaults. Or Highfields, Leicester (which is considered to be a rough area but very multicultural) had 117 reported crimes of which 18 were violent or sexual assaults.
So perhaps it has got a higher crime rate, but I find it strange the some people were very intent that there was no crime. I wonder if this is because they don’t want to give a bad impression of Handsworth or personally they haven’t experienced any crime or animosity. For example I wouldn’t say Leicester city isn’t bad for crimes. I had my phone stolen whilst I was working at a club a few years ago but I wasn’t too upset. When I am walking in the city centre I don’t see anything untoward but the crime map said in March 2014 there was over 800 crimes reported! However that is a city centre so crimes are usually higher than in a suburb.
However, it has hard to know how many of these are due to race related issues or a divide in the community. But seeing as those that we spoke to said there wasn’t too much of an issue if at all then perhaps it isn’t as bad as the media makes out and if there are schemes like with the two gangs coming together then perhaps things are improving.
We found and were given multiple leaflets and booklets about Handsworth and other political posters. One we were given by ‘Mr Handsworth’ called ‘Lozells and Handsworth Heritage Trail’. In the booklet there is a section on Mr Handsworth explaining how he came to live in Handsworth in 1962 (before Neoliberalism really came into politics) and has lived in the area since. He is “the epitome of Handsworth being warm, welcoming and confident… he is so much more than a security guard [for Handsworth library]… he welcomes the elderly gentleman that come to the library in Punjabi… has easy banter with the young people both in the library and passing by… he knows everyone that comes to the library.” It goes on to say “for his efforts he has recently been awarded an ‘MBE’ [for dedicating most of his life to the community], I can’t think of anyone more deserving’
This just shows how the community in Handsworth is integrated and someone really wanting to change it around. However, talking to others they don’t feel this way. One woman said that they used to be able to leave doors unlocked or open but now out of fear she can’t. Therefore it seems there isn’t community integration and actually people live in fear of each other.
In our initial research we noticed how Neoliberalism seems to divide the community e.g. the rich becomes richer and the poor poorer and there is less of a community feel. In one article it states ” Because we are turning away from the role of the community and instead focusing solely on individuals, Bourdieu (1999a) contends that social problems like suicide, alcoholism, depression, and domestic violence will consequently become increasingly prominent”