I Created A Theatre Show To Stamp Out The Stereotypes Of A Young Black Man
10 November 2017
"I thought people from South East London just stabbed and killed each other. I didn't know you get an education."
This was the response I was met with during my Fresher's Week at East 15 Acting School when a young lady asked where I was from, and I proudly replied "South East London."
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't irritated, but I realised that her perception was a common stereotype of young black males that many also shared.
Growing up I constantly battled with how I was perceived by teachers, the police, strangers, friends and family; but what I struggled with most was how I saw myself. Because of this I started to 'play up' to the labels I was given, while secretly grappling to find my identity and my role in our society.
Hoodlum. Big for nothing. Dyslexic. Under-achiever. Lower-class. Poor. Fat boy. Hot head. Loud mouth. Young carer. IC3 Male. Panda - what the bullies called me. And Bison - my street name. All of these labels reflected assumptions about me by individuals who didn't understand the behaviour I exhibited, the music I listened to, the culture I came from or the enormous responsibilities I was carrying as a young teen.
Lacking a sense of purpose and identity, I sought refuge in the sub-cultures which were surrounding me.