Posts from the ‘life styles’ Category

Disabled Invisible? Or the Government and Media Blind, deaf and Dumb?

The 11TH of May 2011 will go down in history. Sadly, only a small sector of the British population will be aware of why.

The conservative government are bull dosing a welfare reform through parliament that will effect hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled individuals. Not only are local councils cutting services to their disabled constituents but the government is putting disabled people under siege by dramatically changing the benefits they are entitled to claim.

Not only will the long term sick and disabled only be allowed to claim Employment support Allowance [esa] for twelve months but the transformation of disability living allowance will not be recognised as something that helps disabled people live their lives. Taking the mobility component from people in residential care who are able, with that extra financial support, to visit friends and families and go to social groups that improves their quality of life, will reduce them to emotional despair. With that component gone, it will leave many isolated and unable to keep in contact with relatives and friends whilst participating in social activities that keep them integrated and active.

The extremely generalised assessment process neither assists those in need or accurately assesses disabled individuals needs correctly. And if found “fit to work” physically, is not to say someone is mentally prepared or actually able. Putting disabled people in to the “lion’s den” of the commercial workplace is going to destroy people. Having rejection upon rejection, while being virtually “bullied” by job centre Plus advisors so they can meet their targets, will mean many people are placed in frightening situations and pushed into a potentially soul destroying path.

Imagine, applying for a job, being interviewed over the telephone only to be told, when you have a disability that they are not sure how they can accommodate your needs, time and time again. Regardless of laws against discrimination, some of the reasons employers cannot employ a disabled person are not always their fault. For blind people, working with money is not practical, employers wouldn’t feel comfortable with money exchanging hands from a blind person to a sighted or vice versa in case the notes are not accurately identified or fraud is being committed. Blind people’s assessment of their own money often takes longer than that of a sighted person, so time pressure would be on them. And that’s if the technology, such as a cash register is accessible. Many are not and never will be in our lifetime.

Wheelchair users can only access buildings with ramps and lifts. And in fire situations, lifts can never be used. Not many employers are willing to take a risk of putting a wheelchair user on the sixth floor in case there is a fire. Some organisations have a buddy system but even if their intentions were their, many insurance companies would not cover the company for such circumstances.

The assessment deems myself “fit to work” if all criteria I have read and been informed about so far is accurate, because I have a guide dog. With the RNIB recently publishing a statistic 92% of employers would not employ someone with a visual impairment, where does that huge misconception that employers have no issue employing the blind come from? do the people behind this horrendous attempt at assessing disabled and sick people for work take into account that despite wanting to work, many being qualified, the employers are not able to for physical or legal reasons employ the disabled. And do these great minds who have created this ludicrous test not think that just because someone has a guide dog or a wheelchair that it can suddenly change employers or insurance companies minds? Changing the “being able to walk” criteria to “being mobilised” was a very devious thing for this government to do. Many disabled could “mobilise” themselves but for how long or how successful are many other questions that are not addressed.

Maria Miller, minister for disabled people, [if she can call herself that], stated that it is a system that is not working if there are more alcoholics and drug addicts claiming DLA than the blind. Well, Miss Miller, if your government has your way under personal independent payments, there will be very few blind people claiming dLA’s successor. Not to mention the fact that the statistics tell a different story? This is people’s futures, Ms Miller, not Jack and Ori.

The media have done nothing but promote the government’s propaganda efforts by publishing in various news sources that 94% in the Mail and 75% in the Daily Express incapacity benefit claimants are deemed “fit to work”. That figure blows my mind. Take away the fact for many disabled, they want to work but are refused employment because of their disability or lack of support into work, what about those suffering from cancer, HIV, MS, chronic arthritis that physically cannot work efficiently every day? That represents only six percent of incapacity claimants? Well, of course not. As usual, the press are promoting government support for tight reform with miscalculated, misinformed, and mostly outright . wrong statistics

The media proved yesterday how much they didn’t care about this society’s disabled. The only major news programmes to cover the march were ITV evening news who did a good piece of coverage and Channel four’s news at seven. BBC had mentioned it during the day but it was missing from it’s popular six o’clock showing on BBC 1 while it was covered on it’s website reasonably well. Sky News, one of the biggest news channels in the UK and streamed around the world mentioned it maybe once but nothing on their website at all. They were able to cover all the things going on in Libya, many foreign stories, even the sentencing of actress Lindsay Lohan but nothing on its website about the thousands of disabled marching through London to protest against the cuts.

It angers me that only the Guardian have been forth coming and extremely supportive of 11TH May protests; having constant updates on a live blog and several write ups both on its online distribution and paper broadsheet. A huge thank you to the Guardian, ITV News, and Channel 4 for having some great coverage of the protest and even interviewing Liam Burns, the shadow work and pensions minister.

None of us expect to be top of the hour news, or front page in the news papers but for crying out loud, we are still here, in our millions as a disabled community! Can this government not hear us? Do they not understand? If they want to cut the deficit, which we all agree on, why target those of us who fight enough in our every day battles with discrimination! I know cuts need to happen, but why are they cutting the quality of our lives? Why are they not recognising blindness as a disability, assessing it below even the threshold to gain a place on the into work scheme under the new ESA benefit, despite having input from organisations such as RNIB who feels their input has been ignored? How can they “assume” that my guide dog makes me more employable than a cane user who may have more sight? How can they say someone with MS can work for eight hours every day if they don’t see them in pain and unable to get up for work because every muscle in their body hurts? How can an abled bodied so called health professional, who is repeatedly passing people fit to work who clearly are not, capable of assessing someone if they’ve never dealt with that disability, some even come across it? If they are not willing to understand and take a fifteen minute snippet with a rigid questionnaire to assess someone’s abilities, it is clearly just a tick in the box and one more person off the sick and disabled list, the better, right, Mr cameron and co?

They say they’ve had conversations with organisations about these changes, but if that was true, then how was it that staff from over forty organisations representing disabled people across the board were marching alongside those people on 11TH May? Richard Leaman , Guide Dogs own chief executive marched alongside clients, dogs and staff alike to protest. Do you think if Guide Dogs as an organisation had agreed to the governments extraordinary changes that he would risk his reputation and the one of his organisation just “for kicks”?

Miller talked about the drug addicts and the alcoholics claiming both DLA and incapacity, and the media have publicised that fact over and over again, but what about those who are disabled who are going to get theirs cut? We didn’t make a life style choice to be blind, lame, deaf, or feel as though our body was on fire, we didn’t abuse the system so then why are we being punished, ignored, sidelined and forced into another system that has not worked for many?

I’ve claimed job seeker’s allowance. I claimed it for almost three years! During that time, neither I nor the job centre could find work. The disability employment advisors did not understand my needs as a blind client or how my blindness would effect me in the work place. No information was accessible to me. Not leaflets, their computer systems, the forms I had to sign every two weeks. It was only through my own research that I attended the royal national college for the blind and transferred to incapacity benefit. After I’d left college, I still couldn’t get work. And despite continued efforts to search, apply for different jobs, I am still unemployed. I was never understood and felt abandoned during that time. Ms Miller speaks of disabled people being abandoned on the current system, so what is she doing then? Throwing many into a system that is not designed to support people with extensive needs; Throwing them into a world of ignorance that no government has tried to change. She says attitudes have changed toward disabled people, really? I must have missed that evolution. We’re still pitied, avoided because people fear the unknown, shunned by others because we’re deemed too needy, patronised because we’re seen to be unintelligent and treated like second class citizens as we always have been, the media have only enhanced that point this week. And society’s attitudes have changed? Just because children are being educated more within mainstream education Ms Miller, it does not mean society’s attitudes have changed just because we’re not locked up and hidden away. The stigmas toward many disabilities still exist and many VI children are segregated within VI units within their school along with other special needs children. Being taught in the same building does not make society’s attitudes toward them any different!

Last year I started a home study degree which was funded by the university so I did not have any fees to pay. Because of the increase to come in for tuition fees, the scheme was cut at the end of my very successful first year. I couldn’t afford the fees and was forced to withdraw. I have and continue to try to gain work or qualifications to be “more employable” on a qualification basis but the truth is, unless my blindness miraculously disappears, or the attitudes of society, the employer’s being educated and insurance companies not deeming disabled people high risk enough to boot premiums to a devastating price change, I will remain unemployed from the mainstream workforce. I take offence to the many headlines calling incapacity and DLA claimants “scroungers” or “lazy” as While looking for work I’ve done everything in my power to gain employment. I’ve attempted study, I volunteer to gain work experience, I blog and participate in accessibility podcasts to widen my knowledge and experience while educating and informing the world best I can about blindness, access technology and guide dogs. I do not sit around, or enjoy four or five holidays to Spain, I do not own extravagant items or go out every weekend to clubs. I’ve tried, I continue to try to make my life productive and full but I can’t single handedly change the attitudes of employers.

Unless I gain employment within a sector for visually impaired or set up my own business, which I eventually would like to do, I will be punished for being blind and become isolated because I cannot fund my disability.

I keep hearing the phrase, “Genuinely disabled,” yet I and others seemingly do not fit into that category. As I stated earlier, the current assessment for ESA would maximumly gain a visually impaired person nine points or less and fifteen is required to qualify for the into work program. So, I clearly am not “disabled” according to these guidelines and to the media who have deemed many claimants to be “scroungers” and have insinuated “faking it”. What an actress I must be, to have faked blindness all my life!

Many do abuse the system and those people need to be caught out, no one would refute that. And that is why we are not asking this government to leave things the way they are but to listen, understand and implement changes suggested to them by the people who know. Realism and practicality need to be adopted here or else the government has outrightly broke its promise to protect the disabled and vulnerable in our society.

As MP Hunt said, stop providing abled bodied, healthy individuals from pushing out three or four children at the tax payer’s expense. If people want to reproduce, they should pay for them. My parents have worked every day of their lives and have contributed to this system and they, like others who are parents of disabled people are angry that it is more socially acceptable to get pregnant and have a child for the sole cause of living off of benefits when disabled families are having support, care and benefits cut.

Miller talks about the numbers of alcoholics and drug users on DLA and incapacity benefit, well stop them claiming it! Children born with disabilities don’t have a choice, soldiers fighting for this country don’t have a choice whether they are hit or not, police and fire service people do not have a choice if they are hurt while on duty, and yet those without the choices are the ones being punished.

This past few days, I’ve felt disappointed, angry, concerned, surprised, shocked and proud for a variety of reasons. Proud of the ones marching; proud of the efforts by those who couldn’t make it who have expressed themselves on the web; proud of some journalists who have maintained their integrity by reporting the events as they are. I was surprised how quickly my MP responded to my email that I sent her only the night of the march and even more so of her support. And yet I’ve been saddened, shocked and rather disgusted with the lack of coverage by many media outlets. No need for breaking news but it still happened! It was one of the biggest, if not the biggest march of its kind in regard to the disabled people in numbers present at a protest, and that wasn’t news worthy? I was also disappointed by the lack of response by some visually impaired people I know. Some were fantastic online yesterday and others I know marched while some remained quiet and as though it wasn’t happening to them. You may not believe writing to your MP will work, or that you’ll lose followers or friends on social networks by mentioning it, but if they’re real friends or interested in what you have to say, isn’t that better than being ignored by the government? I’ve heard people say it won’t have made a difference, maybe not but maybe it will open some eyes. It’s our future and if we don’t help shape it, then we have no real future to call our own.

Miller in my book represents nothing but an empty promise and a cruel and misconceived idea of what disability and sickness really means and how it effects those with it. She was more interested in the prime minister’s question time than the people she’s meant to represent. Even in a committee meeting about the welfare reform, she was vague, unable to give detail or straight, decisive answers to questions posed to her. Cameron’s conservatives are ignorant and malicious. Despite what they’re telling the media the reality of the assessment process, changes to DLA put the disabled in poverty and isolation, stripping them of dignity and independence. No wonder their precious media won’t report it and are more interested in US politics, affairs abroad and war because it’s not affecting them. If Hunt had denied Murdock the deal for Sky, we’d hear about that all right in its entirety but a few blind, wheel chair bound, deaf and sick people are invisible to them. Why hear the cries of the needy while you’re sat eating your finest foods and enjoying your life? Why take notice of a bunch of disabled people, “We’ll get over it,” right? Why take from the rich, corrupt bankers when you can target the ones in need? It seems they have enough money to bail Greece, Ireland, Portugal and others out of debt, give money to the rebels fighting in Libya, donate millions to countries in need and all because they neglected their own people! I feel for other countries plights, but Prime Minister, you and your government are meant to be the British government, here to make Britain better, but you’d rather help other country’s people than your own vulnerable and disabled people! If you want to cut the deficit, give us a chance to live and change the attitudes of employers and society as a whole, because without those changes, we’ll remain invisible to all while we suffer.

If that’s the society we live in, then by God help us all. Because wait until they cut child services more, or petrol prices rise again, that will be top news. I hope anyone who has blatantly ignored this demonstration of courage and pride by the disabled people of Britain never finds themselves in a similar situation. Because where will your loyal government be then? Helping Pakistan, or fighting in the middle East, or bailing out European countries or lending money to some superpower, and giving you nothing!

“The Invisible Disabled,” it seems so but I pledge to you I will not go unnoticed and neither should you. The women who fought for women’s rights were taken seriously eventually , and some would argue there were many more but many were too afraid to fight the system then. Let’s fight for our right to live good qualities of life and to gain opportunities like everyone else. Change society’s attitudes for the better, Clegg and Cameron, don’t change our lives for the worst.

[note. I am totally blind and cannot comment in detail on how people’s disabilities effect them. Hope I grasped the concept of anger we’re all feeling]

Interesting entertainment links

That’s a Cut, SunnieDae1
Broken Britain’s We have A Dream Speech, hardest Hit
Hardest Hit, Day of Action, Scope for Equality

What A Wonderful World!

The past few weeks has taught me far too much about the social state of our society. several things have happened both directly and non-directly that provoked me to write this blog.

First of all, if anyone read my blog last week about The library then you will know the personal experiences I have had in recent weeks with the youth of society.

By no means do I think that all children behave in such a disrespectful matter or believe that all kids are bad but it seems more and more, with cases like the stabbing last week in the UK, multiple mass murders from school children in the past ten years that society has gone crazy.

I know that there have always been the odd child that gives the rest of them a bad name. Heavens knows we were all capable of being a little “cheeky” or insolent during our youth, its the way we tested boundaries but more and more we read of killings, abuse, and pure anti-social behaviour occurring on a daily basis that surely is not acceptable. Although, it seems it is.

Children cannot be disciplined by adults due to fear of repercussions for the adults involved. It shows how bad this particular situation has become when a UK soap shows a woman in her 70s being arrested by police for smacking her “naughty” grand daughter. This child merely wasn’t just talking back but she was trying to make it look like her grandfather who had suffered a stroke had wet himself by pouring water over his lap. This same character had stolen another little girl’s dress and her grandmother had covered up for the child’s bad behaviour until the water incident upon which she smacked the child. Not battered her, smacked her.

Now, when I was growing up, which is not that long ago in the real state of things, my mother smacked me if I was bad. It hasn’t driven me to be violent or abusive as a person so I’m not buying into that psychological theory. I don’t discount that can happen but a smack from a parent/guardian during childhood seems a norm to me. But now with all the human rights and children’s charities bleating on about children’s rights it seems not only the authority figures such as police officers, teachers etc who cannot have a handle on children’s behaviour but their own parents cannot discipline their child as they see fit either.

I would never condone beating a child but a quick slap on the rear end or back of legs surely, when used appropriately cannot do any harm. Children have no fear of authority figures anymore and this is steadily growing into a problem that before long we will not be able to get a handle on.

If a child does not have disciplinarianism at home, [I do not mean hitting, you can discipline in other ways], but if they are not taught to respect adults and adhere to social as well as legal laws then what hope do we all have for the future? If the parents won’t discipline their out of control children then who can? Teachers and police officers were given this role forty or fifty years ago, with the ability to use corporal punishment within the classroom and the threat of a “clip around the earhole” from the local bobby but now it seems no one can touch the brats of society because of their “human rights?”

It seems to me as if adult’s human rights are slowly shifting from the adults to the children. Only this past week did Apple remove “overtly sexual apps” from their app store. Regardless of the content, why did Apple feel the need to do this? Because of some “do-gooders” sticking their noses in where they’re not wanted? I personally don’t purchase the type of apps that have been removed from the app store but I also think its against the consumer’s right to choose what they buy with their money. All apps that in possession of “adult content” should be labeled so and you agree if you are over the correct age limit if you want to purchase and use the app. So then, Apple are legally obliged to remove those apps, I agree but if an app is rated as adult then why should it be removed at all? If you are an adult then you are old enough to make the choice whether you want to buy an app with bouncing boobs or an app to show you naked men/women. So lets hazard a guess why these “do-gooders” complained.

CHILDREN!!!

Yes those little darlings are not only infringing on our adult human rights to respect and common courtesy in every day society, they are now infringing on adults’ decisions to buy whatever they like from Itunes App store. So how long will it be until those brat loving fools make Apple feel obliged to remove rated R movies or explicit music? This is the first step people to complete and utter censorship. Whether you like adult images/apps on your IPhone or IPod, shouldn’t it be your choice, as an adult? No one makes you buy any of the apps, you search and buy your own at your own discretion. So then, how is it fair that our society is again revolving around children who some of us don’t have. And if you as parents are worried about what your little darlings are buying on ITunes, use parental control or simpler still, DON’T BUY THEM A EXPENSIVE DEVICE THAT THEY COULD DOWNLOAD CONTENT ONTO!. Or better still, DON’T GIVE THEM YOUR CREDIT CARD DETAILS AND MONITOR WHAT THEY ARE BUYING! You’re the ones who had children, you be responsible for them. Don’t expect society to babysit them and raise them, that’s your job.

I’m getting ultimately tired of my life having to revolve around children and be disrespected by them and have to deal with their abuse when I don’t even have a child. Let society be about individuals and not the offspring of those who do not give a fuck about what their “little darlings” are doing. I have every respect for parents who bring their children up with manners and show them about respect and being a social being but after witnessing recent events and then hearing about Apple’s decision to remove content specific to adults, it just reinforces an anger amongst those of us who are trying to contribute positively toward society whilst others sit on their backsides, claiming benefits for their umpteen kids and not taking responsibility for them. If you can’t be assed to have a child, use something or abort it, but don’t let the rest of us suffer for your irresponsible attitudes. Get a job and stop bitching about adults wanting to be adults. If a guy wants to look at sexy naked women, let him, he’s not doing anyone any harm and if your 11 year-old child is talking to his friends about a show he saw on TV about sex, then that’s your problem for not ensuring he’s watching safe content. There’s a watershed in most countries and if not, then turn your television off and teach your child some respect.

People need to start taking responsibility for their own children and stop blaming companies or developers or television networks for the content they’re producing. You’re a parent, watch your child! Being a parent is about nurturing not just feeding and clothing, educate them, its not only down to their school to do that. Remember one thing, you wanted society to stop disciplining your children, now look at the state it is in, little respect, rude and anti-socialites, wow what a wonderful society we live in! Don’t you think?

My Happier Life

The golden sun slipping through the blinds,
In an air conditioned room,
To wake you up from a rest so short,
But enough to keep you going.

Up and dressed,
Set for a busy day,
Heading outside and breathing in the scents,
Sweet grass,
Breakfast being made,
The fresh smells of the day.

The sun beating down even so early,
The campus so busy and buzzing,
Coffee and a quick snack in the cool
Of the student’s union.

Past the smells of the rose garden,
Listening to the gushing fountain,
A bell begins to toll
And you most definitely know,
That the day is just beginning.

Lunch time on the quad,
Or else watching TV inside,
Chatting with friends old and new,
The sun high in the sky,
Sweater shoved in your backpack,
And arrangements formulating.

Studying quietly in the lab,
Checking emails while bored,
The smell of paper and flowers fill your nose,
As you wait for the best part to start.

Jump in the truck,
Ride to the store,
Pick up some dinner or order in,
Shower and change,
Phone ringing hot,
Party time is just beginning.
Worked all week,
Play hard at the weekend,
Different day,
Different place,
Familiar faces,
But always the same,
party hard, watch a movie, go to the mall,
Or watch the football or basketball game.

Weekend morning always spent with a starbucks,
Eating at Fuzios or getting a jamba juice,
The life I had was so rich with so much,
Fun, love, happiness and friendship,
Trust, joy, confidence and more.

Hug a friend when she cries,
Hug her tighter when she smiles,
True friendship more valuable than diamonds,
True friendship makes my heart sing,
For it is not the places, the fun or the parties,
The smells or the sounds indeed
That make a place what it is,
Its your friends.

Miss my life,
More than true,
Miss my friends,
incredibly accurate,
Hold my heart forever in Cali?
Without a doubt it will always be home.

how Fast is Technology Advancing?

As we reach the end of another decade, and I look around my room, I began to ask myself how advanced technology has become.

It’s safe to say, our grandparents wouldn’t ever have believed they would see the day where a television was flat and had the crystal clear pictures that we receive with the advancements of High definition Television nowadays. It’s probably safer to say that they didn’t even believe everyone would own a television when they were children, or even realize they could exist let alone many of us having a working television set in each room of the house.

Talking on the telephone was a task you undertook for emergencies and long distance calls during the era most of our grandparents grew up, so the fact most of us walk around with cordless house phones and sit on the bus or train chatting with our friends on our mobile phones would come as an amazement to most people over the age of sixty.

Gadgets like the microwave would blow most people’s minds before they were introduced. DVD and CD players would spin people’s thoughts out of control. And Satellite navigation would direct people into disbelief had they been told during the 1930s or 1940s that those things could exists. Yet, most of us have these items and much more in our households.

It is true to say, technology has advanced in the 20TH century but even since the late 80s technology has come along at such speed, it almost is scary.

I remember the first games’ console my dad had during the 80s, it was a keyboard and disc drive and a joie stick connected to the television. Just in those twenty years since we had our faithful amstrad I have seen the video games market advance in leaps an bounds. Now, a games’ console not only delivers high quality graphics and sound quality, coupled with a huge choice of gaming but now you can save your game on a huge built in harddrive and if you’re bored, play with other gamers from all around the world.

I can remember during the late 80s/early 90s when the internet was first being discussed on the news. The information highway as it was being called sounded so futuristic and now most of us have daily access to the world wide web either through broadband connection or our mobile phones.

During the late 90s, most teenagers were grappling for the newest release and biggest craze hitting society, the mobile phone. And now, you didn’t need a contract to possess one of these highly desired commodities, the invention of prepay mobile phones meant that most teenagers could own one and “top up” their account as and when they needed. Would any of us have believed then that within ten short years, we’d be not only calling and texting from our phones, but sending pictures/sounds and surfing the internet on our increasingly smaller, more stylish and function filled devices. Now a phone won’t only just do those things but with the invention of the “app store” we are able to do more and more on our phones, such as find the nearest bank or ATM, look for restaurants and find recent reviews, get a taxi number or compare prices of products in the store all on a device you can fit into your pocket or bag.

And even computers have revolutionized since the room sized device of the 1970s. Now, we can carry a small computer around with us and with the recent invention of the dongles, can now use the mobile networks to surf the internet wherever we want. Write our school reports, chat online and watch a movie if we so desire is all now so achievable as the advancement of technology has improved for the computers.

If someone had told me while I was playing my tapes on my old stereo as a small child that one day I would be able to carry photos, music, movies, games and audio books around with me on a small device, that would compete with the size of most lighters, then I would have been astonished. And those musical devices with each release becomes more technical and stylish and not only bigger in capacity but smaller in size.

My room, like most people of my generation is forever changing and the devices are getting smaller and more advance each year. And yes, technology has advanced considerably within the 20TH century but the speed at which technology is advancing all of the time is phenomenal. Touch screen phones seemed impossible but before we know it, all we’ll have to do in order to turn a channel on our tv set is say so and it will. Nothing surprises me anymore and I do believe, I’m from a generation that will always expect bigger and better things. as I said earlier in the article, our grandparents will continue to be amazed by our technical advances but my generation will expect those advances and keep demanding bigger and better things.

A Hip Hop Life Style, what does it mean?

Today’s society is filled with a mixture of cultures. Whether they originate from countries or music tastes they vary massively. So where does the life style begin and just a choice end? And are these so called lifestyles purely stereotyped or is there any truth in what these so called stereotypes involve? And is it possible that sometimes, people try to imitate what they believe to be the life style and purely imitate a stereotype and should they in turn just live their life?

I will focus on a genre of music that I myself grew up with. Hip hop music has been around substantially since the mid 1980s and is basically a music that came to be through an enormous historical path. It works around the idea of the slaves chanting to no music during the slave trades of the 18th and 19th centuries and during the 1970s, D.J.s began playing a sample, [a piece of music already made] and putting their own spin on it by means of talking over the music in poetic tongue. This new genre of music would become what we today call hip hop. But with the many genres within that genre, can we honestly just focus on hip hop as a individual genre? In its own right, it covers many sub-genres and while some of those are perceived by critics to be “harmless” such as Christian hip hop, others have caused much controversy over their years of existence. Gangster rap is one of those genres and one of the major sub-genres I shall concentrate on in this article.

Gangster rap is stereotypically spoken word over a beat that depicts life styles in the “projects’ or the ‘hood”. It often refers to gang life style, drugs, violence and how some of the rappers, “storytellers’ lived their lives there. This genre of hip hop has often come under attack from critics to be promoting violence, drug abuse and such perceived unsocial behaviours. What you perceive to be unsocial behaviours is purely an individuals opinion. So, by listening to this music, does this mean that we are all influenced by the lyrics spoken by these artists. And some would argue, are they artists at all? I believe those who refuse to give credit to these artists often have never listened to a hip hop track in its entirety are often lose sight of the overall message in its contents. Yes, some artists have openly attacked either rival artists in a “beef” or have attacked the police in some controversial act that has been in the current news. For example, NWA’s Fuck the police track or Iced Tea’s cop killer; both banned at one point or another due to the horrific lyrics taken by both of these artists to be either racist or antiauthority. True, NWA’s track is set in a courtroom where they have a white police officer on trial for his supposed racism toward the black artists themselves. The group raps of how badly they are treated by the police and many fear this would influence young listeners to also disrespect the police authorities. However, this track was written after the 1992 Los Angeles riots where they were protesting against the police authorities that had brutally attacked a man the previous year. NWA were merely echoing many people’s opinions of that time. So wouldn’t this support the idea that artists, especially rap artists, are actually rather intellectual individuals who are capable of portraying current events and the general consensus of a population. Were in fact, NWa just emphasising the black community’s disgust of what the LAPD had done? The answers to these questions are purely opinions and judge what you will upon this subject. Personally, I see many songs that are written by rap artists that truly venture close to a very fine line that many other individuals refuse to come close too.

NAs’s latest album, renamed for its controversial reasons, provoked many arguments over what rap artists were talking about and subsequently having their fans listen to their opinions on a large scale. A track from this album was banned on the Fox network last summer due its personal attack on the network and the questioning of the networks’ support of George W Bush. It seems, whenever a rap artist questions any kind of authority, all of a sudden, it is banned or perceived to be “bad” for our youth to listen too. In actual fact, wouldn’t it be fair to say, that they don’t want the youth listening to these artists opinions because they are on the whole true and honest and often speak whatever is on everyone else’s minds? Eminem stated in his ” ” that “I’m only giving you things that you and your friends talk about in your living room”. And isn’t he right? Isn’t the case that we do all question authority, just not on such a public platform as these artists do? Can’t we see as the general public that although some of the topics these artists discuss, may not be always done in a nice and diplomatic way, as these politicians may prefer it, that they discuss it in real talk. How everyone else would talk about it but only they do it to music. Wouldn’t be fair to say that there are many artists that do this but just to music? Writers, artists, performers all in one way or another, discuss the current events of our world and give their opinions on them. So why are musicians, especially those of a hip hop variety penalised so greatly?

I believe I see why they are targeted so deeply. It comes down to their life styles. Many American rap artists, seen as this where rap originated, wear clothes perceived to be antisocial, baggy trousers, big chains, usually gang affiliated colours. And then there’s the lives of these individuals. They drink liquor, smoke drugs, carry weapons and admit to using them: disrespect authorities; and many other factors that the government strive to stamp out. In deprived areas it is often noted that liquor and drug use is above the national average and yet in Britain alone, amongst our youth, the binge drinking is incredibly high. I am no expert and I have not carried out much research but in my own opinion, many of those binge drinkers who often up in hospital or a prison cell for the night do not tend to listen to the kind of rap we’ve discussed so far. They’d often listen to dance, trance, mainstream pop and r&B. So where is the connection? No one is saying there are not individuals out there that do copy their favourite gangster rapper and choose to carry a gun because one of them said they did in a song. But does that go for everyone else who listened to that song? I have listened to hip hop music since I was around five or six years old. By he age of ten I had listened to rappers like NWa, iced tea, Snoop dogg, Tupac, Biggy and I have never carried a gun. And if I was to carry a knife, it was purely for protection. I know it is a battle to stop young people carrying weapons and although I don’t condone it, I understand it. I don’t believe knives or guns should be used unless absolutely necessary and there are people out there that think they can “run the streets” like their favourite rapers. What annoys me most is that Britain is not like America. I have been there and I’ve seen it and the kids here need to stop copy catting everyone else in the world and just be them. Maybe it comes down to a lack of culture in this country at all? maybe we need to find an identity in the world like everyone else has. I saw an exhibition in Europe, depicting the European Union and the countries in it. Do you know what was where Britain was supposed to be? Nothing! And I know why. We don’t have an identity we just try to be like everyone else. America is like the cool kid in the playground and everyone wants to be them if they are not strong enough to find their own identity. And I’m afraid that’s what Britain has become. The self conscious, lonely kid with no one to play with and wanting to get in with the big boys.

And does it also mean that those people who say they will do something on a track, actually go out and do it? Eminem mocked people’s ideas of what he was rapping about was exactly what he had done; like a confession on a record. And other rap artists have referred to this on songs. The game, after having a very public beef with 50 cent, rapped on a song called “Body Bags” that he would kidnap his son after Tony Yayo had hit Game’s manager’s fifteen year old son and he also stated in the last line of the song,
“We ain’t gonna do shit,
I’ll have your crew sit,
so play like them is toy guns and this is just music”
Which indicates clearly that whatever he said in the song he was never going to do.

Hip hop thrives on beefs and battles. It is about who is better than the other. During the 90s and early 2000s there have been many notorious beefs between rappers for one reason or another. It’s a part of the culture and its true.

As a hip hop fan, i respect that and enjoy watching battles and there is nothing better than a good beef as long as it sticks within the music. Those individuals who do use weapons and do hit out and claim its all about the hip op life style are not staying true to what hip hop means. They’re using it as an excuse to do what the hell they like. Hip hop is controversial, no one can deny that, but many other things have been and will be controversial in the future. And some people who like to cause trouble use the genre as their excuse and escape goat but its not fair. Thos artists who merely express their opinion and are true about what they rap about, are crucified for their art. They are intelligent people and express themselves intellectually and those critics who barely know what hip hop’s about, need to stop criticising. Just because you’re a hip-hopper, does to mean you’re a killer, drug dealer or down and out waste of space. Many rap artists make businesses and work their butts off to continue to make money. The die hard artists, who are true about their craft, don’t just up and leave after making their first ‘mill” they stick around and create jobs for people; maybe friends or family but they get those people into jobs that previously may not have been able to do so. And they create opportunities for other artists if they have either a clothing line or record company. They’re not bad people, even though they rap about the less than desirable topics in their songs. Those things they rap about happen and maybe the government need to face up to facts. That those artists aren’t promoting drug abuse, violence or gang life, they’re merely rapping about their experiences.

In conclusion, hip hop is a life style but its about personal choice and those people who do not choose to live that life style should stop judging everyone else on a few negative people who want to make trouble. Hip hop artists, want to make their lives better. Why do you think they aimed for the careers they did? To make money, to get out of those bad situations and to make something of themselves. They want to have people listen to their music and maybe show the world what they had come from and where they’re heading and why.

Days At Home

You find a wonderful place,
Filled with Friends and lots of space,
To grow and fly away so free,
And happiness seems to come so naturally.

The hot sun beams on down,
Music, parties, guys all around,
Friendships made and hearts keep beating,
Shopping malls and lots of fun meeting,
New people day in and out,
Stepping into a life that you simply can’t live without,
Hopes and dreams filled to the brim,
And nothing seems like its going to end.

Late nights and sunrises,
Happy voices and some classes,
Lounging on the lawns all afternoon,
Napping after dinner and not too soon,
For the parties begin again at ten,
And they end and start again and again.

Cell phones ringing off the hook,
Another friend wants to get fucked
Up at a crazy frat thing,
Or sneak into a club, so what if we’re underage?

Hot days and cooler nights,
Lots of laughter and few some fights,
Friends to lean on whenever the drama begins,
And they’ll see it through to the dying end.

Ice cream places and burger joints,
Salsa dancing and car lots,
Chatting groups and friendly hellos,
Hardly pain and tearful bellows.
Just a place that keeps me alive,
A place of happiness, friends and drive,
The one place I never feel alone,
I only wish California was my real home!

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