The Home Office in their campaign to end knife crime has announced that in over 210 chicken shops in England and Wales, they will make black chicken boxes with the hashtag #Knife Free.
The #KnifeFree boxes will be in chicken shops such as Morley’s, Dixy Chicken and Chicken Cottage. On the inside, there will be real stories of individuals and their story with knives.
Whilst this campaign is interesting, it’s important to focus on real facts. Some youth services in the UK have been cut by up to 91% and cuts in those areas and a string of other factors have increased rates of knife crime. Knife crime across England and Wales hit a new record 2018 of 40,800.
Homicides are also at the highest level for more than a decade. How will chicken boxes solve the very real loss of funding to crucial youth clubs and youth services?
Elijah Quashie, 26, also known as The Chicken Connoisseur, is an internet celebrity and fried chicken restaurant critic known for his viral YouTube video series “The Pengest Munch.”
Mr Quashie told BBC’s Wake Up to Money today that the approach to knife crime was too simplistic in attempting to solve a complex problem. He said:
“I can see the racist connotation. I’m not sure if I’d say racist or stereotype but it’s in that bracket.”
‘The aim was not the conversation. It seems like the aim was for the chicken boxes to make a difference in the streets.’
Interestingly his Youtube career has thrived off the stereotype of a young black male eating chicken. He has over 690,000 subscribers because of the comedic element of his channel which sees him travelling around London tasting different chicken from different chicken and chip shops. Perhaps he is protecting his self-interest and what his Youtube career is built on.
Lower socio-economic areas in and around London have become associated with a high number of chicken shops as well as other food takeaways. Most of these foods are littered with artificial preservatives, carcinogens, E numbers and have very little nutrition. This is a major contributing factor to the development of a variety of health issues such as Diabetes, Hypertension and Obesity.
Growing up in South West London, Tooting, and attending a state school, you are reminded of the area you inhabit and how it affects your world view. In an area which only recently started undergoing gentrification which is changing the local landscape, there is a wider range of healthier alternatives to chicken and chips. However, the healthier alternatives frequently outprice some of the natives of the area. Being health conscious seems reserved for those who are financially secure.
The Home Office could instead reiterate the key to having highly nutritious food at more affordable prices. Nutrition leads to better intelligence, as it has been proven junk food does lower the IQ scores of children
Racism and Stereotypes Have Chicken shops become the new youth clubs?
Ever since the decline off youth clubs, many young people have looked for new places to congregate. Some have indeed chosen chicken shops, however, these young people are not exclusively Black. A chicken box is a poor effort from the government to tackle knife crime and has instead become virtual signalling from the Home Office.
Once again social justice issues have been reduced to mere banal irrelevant consumables, to which the community can easily dispose of. Ironically similar to how young people treat each other on the streets. A black box with the hashtag “knife crime”, does very little to solve the very large problem that is knife crime. It is a poor misfiring at the root of the issue of knife crime.
Momodou Lamin Jallow otherwise known as J Hus in his Daily Duppy 14th April 2019 said: “They tore down the youth clubs and built the new prisons.”
So where is the money for the youth clubs? Instead of stories in chicken boxes? As Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a £100m crackdown on criminal activity in prison. An extra 10,000 prison places and plans to increase police officers by 20,000, additionally with tougher prison sentences as well. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will also receive an extra £85m to help deal with a rise in violent crime in England and Wales. All these changes that do not tackle anything at Grassroot levels to prevent that prison pipeline to which many youths become victim to.
The Home Office and their PR and advertising team should be sacked for their ridiculous, ludicrous and offensive campaign. Not every young person who is black eats chicken. I for one don’t. I am vegan. How will I be exposed to these boxes when I am not part of that target audience?
Give the youth what they really need, funding for youth clubs, educational, role models and job opportunities. £50,000 on chicken boxes, when youth services have been massively cut? They say think outside the box instead the Home Office thought in the box and are stuck there.