Speaking Easy: Teenagers, Cheating, Money, Paedophiles, Crime, Dudus Coke

Speakeasy took place again this month and I attended and participated in more topical debates.  This time they changed it round a little and started off by posing different scenarios with three options as an answer.  So here are a few for you to ponder…

A teenager is stabbed to death and you find out the culprit is your 15 year-old.  Would you:

a)  Turn them in to the police

b)  Don’t turn them in, but also don’t lie when questioned

c)  Hide him/her

I chose the second option.  Since it’s my own child, I can’t imagine just turning them straight to the police, but it also depends on the circumstances in which the stabbing occurred.  Hiding them would only make the situation worse for everyone, so I would basically operate a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ method and speak when I’m spoken to.

What do you think?

You’re on a dirty weekend at a plush hotel and you spot your best friend’s partner loved up with someone else.  Would you:

a)  Confront them and give them a warning to stop or you’ll tell

b)  Tell your friend straight away

c)  Avoid them and pretend you know nothing, even if your friend finds out later and confides in you

There is not a piece of anything that anyone could tell me that would stop me from telling my friend straight away.  Those who disagree can call me selfish all you want, but my best friends and I have already agreed that if we were to ever find ourselves in such a situation, the truth is the best option.  I will tell my friend, and what he or she chooses to do with the information is up to them, but I know I have done the right thing, so even if my friend chooses to stop being my friend because he or she is in denial… so be it.  Someone close to me has already told me that she thinks it’s better to stay out of other people’s business, so if she were to be in this situation, she wouldn’t say a word.  I hope it will never be a boyfriend of mine she sees…

What do you think?

£10,000 goes missing at work and you find it and take it because you have a huge debt to settle with a loan shark.   Your best friend/colleague is then accused of theft and their job is threatened.  What do you do?

a)  Confess

b)  Put it back unnoticed and risk having your legs broken by the loan shark’s henchmen

c)  Don’t confess, but help your friend as much as possible to look for another job

I think I would put it back unnoticed and just move house!  I definitely wouldn’t confess, because I’ll out of a job and broker than I already am, and to watch my friend get blamed for something so serious… not sure my conscience could take that; I’d be living in fear of karma!

What do you think?

Your neighbourhood discovers that a registered paedophile is living on your street, and there is a plot to burn their house down.  You hold the deciding vote as to whether to go through with it.  What do you do?

a)  Vote to go ahead with it

b)  Vote against it, because you’re against mob mentality

c)  Separate yourself from the group and let them do what they want

Initially I thought I would vote to burn the house down, but then I changed my mind and decided I would remove myself from the group, because a good point someone made was that the person could have been over 18 and had sex with a 15 year old who lied about their age.  They could be a registered sex offender for a minor reason, but put in the same box as the vile, disgusting lot who actually harm children.  The word ‘paedophile’ is sometimes used a little too generally, in my opinion, and maybe needs to be made a bit more specific, because the image that is conjured up is that of a sick and dangerous person.

What do you think?

Why are black communities so reluctant to co-operate with the police with black-on-black crime?

A point was made that the term ‘Black-on Black’ crime itself is stupid, and I agree.  I remember thinking this at the time that Operation Trident was set up.  They never say White-on-White, Asian-on-Asian or Chinese-on-Chinese crime, do they??  So why set up a specific section?  Crime is crime.

I think black people don’t always co-operate with the police, because there’s a general lack of trust, and the communities don’t feel that the police are genuinely there to help.  There’s also the whole issue of people not talking, because they don’t want to be seen as a snitch or a grass for fear of retaliation.  It’s sad, because people should put themselves in the victims and their families’ shoes and imagine how devastating it must be to know that someone knows something that could give them closure, but chooses not to speak.

What do you think?

Dudus Coke – international criminal or supporter of the community?

I’d never heard of this guy until there was a manhunt for him recently, but what a Jamaican friend told me was that as much as him being a drug baron is not a good thing, he practically transformed the Tivoli Gardens area that her family live in, and helped the children and other families with his money.  The fact that the locals didn’t want to help catch him, tells me that they didn’t see him as a bad person.  But on the other hand I’m sure there were people hooked on the same drugs he was running, and then throw in a corrupt Prime Minister of the country; it’s a bit of a hard one.  There were also comments about it being a case of America forcing themselves into this country they have never previously cared about, under the guise of capturing a drug baron, for the sake of finding oil.  When will this crap end eh?

What do you think?

Male Depression

To say “I’m depressed” is quite simple.  You didn’t get the job you applied for, or you’re temporarily broke, or you’ve just had an argument with your partner.  All these feelings of upset are usually summed up by the word ‘depressed.’  But what many people fail to realise is that depression is actually a disease of the mind.  With true depression, the symptoms last continuously for at least two weeks, and affect the sufferer’s daily activities.

The World Health Organisation defines depression as “a common mental disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration.”  It can affect anyone at any time, yet we don’t really seem to hear about it within the black community, and especially among black males, since they are notoriously known for not speaking about their feelings for fear of appearing weak.

Don, 30, is a happily married father of one, who acknowledges that he suffered a form of depression during his teens, when everything in his life began to go wrong.

“It started when I was 14 years old.  My parents separated while my mum was heavily pregnant with their fourth child, and I found it difficult to digest.  In that same week I had been playing basketball after school with friends, and as I jumped to catch the ball, someone pushed me from behind.  As I landed I heard a click in my back and I fell awkwardly.  I was in constant pain after that, but I refused to go to the doctor, because even up till now I have never been a fan of them.  The pain I suffered meant that sometimes I would have to call my mum to help me sit up in bed.  I was dependent on her.

“When I turned 15, my parents were still separated, but my back pain wasn’t as severe – not because it was improving, but more to do with the fact that I found a way to live with it.  At the time I thought my life couldn’t get any worse, but I was wrong.  During another basketball game with friends one rainy day, I lost my step while running and fell over, which caused me to cut my fingers, but I just ignored it.  Later that week the cut became infected, so I reluctantly went to the doctor who couldn’t understand why I was developing black bumps on my hands.  He advised me to just leave it as he couldn’t do anything.  I took it upon myself to use a needle and scissors to pick and cut at it, but it just grew back bigger, and I eventually counted 24 all over my hands.  I tried to forget about it, which was difficult every time I washed my hands or tried to write or shook a hand.  It also affected my confidence with girls, as I didn’t want them to get too close in case they spotted my sores.”

Don’s confidence sank to a low, but he attempted to seek solace in the one thing that came naturally to him – sport.  In 1996, at the age of 16, he received a letter from Charlton Athletic FC, inviting him to try out for them after being scouted while playing for his school.

“I was over the moon.  I felt there was light at the end of the tunnel.  The football pitch was one place I could forget all my problems.”

The following day, while practising his skills in a match during his school lunch break, an opponent tackled Don awkwardly.

“Straight away I knew what had happened, because I heard a snap.  My ankle had broken, and I could see the bone sticking out through my skin.  I was taken to hospital where they operated, and then told me that I wouldn’t be able to rotate my ankle the way I could before.  From that moment I felt my whole world come to an end… I wanted to die.”

For almost a year Don sank into depression, but kept his feelings hidden.  “I hated my life, I didn’t go to school for months, I felt weak, and I wasn’t eating or sleeping.  There were many times I would limp over to the River Thames with my crutches and contemplate ending my life by just leaping over, and one particular day I was actually convinced I would go through with it, but I chickened out at the last minute.  My mother never knew how I felt, since I was able to pretend I was fine, but I’m sure she knew something was wrong.  I felt that way for at least the nine months it took me to learn to walk without the crutches, but my chances of playing for Charlton were well and truly over.”

Although Don never sought professional help with the aid of anti-depressants or therapy, he credits his mum with introducing him to church and his Christian faith with helping him to come to terms with the events in his life.

Cynics have dismissed depression as mere laziness, believing that often some people just get into a lazy rut, then become used to doing nothing, labelling it ‘depressed’ to justify their laziness.  Could this be true?  After all our quality of life is better than it was for our parents and grandparents, who weren’t exposed to the luxuries we currently enjoy, rather having to physically graft harder to provide a life for their families.  Or is it more the case that we set ourselves extremely, almost unattainable goals, and when they are not reached, our minds are unable to cope?

The reality is that depression is an illness that exists and can strike anyone.  It is not a sign of weakness, but can rather be triggered by certain risk factors, including inherited genetics (having a parent or grandparent who was a sufferer), the death of a loved one, drug use, and more common factors such as stress.

If you feel you or someone you know is suffering from depression, the advice to follow is:

Don’t bottle your feelings up, talk to people about how you feel.

Try and keep as active as possible, as sitting and constantly thinking about your problems can make them seem worse.

Do not increase your alcohol intake by drowning your sorrows.  It will only make the depression worse.

Remember that depression is an illness and not a case of simply ‘pulling yourself together.’  Talk to your GP.  Depression is very common.

First published in Candy Mag UK, May 2010