John Barnes: Celebrities have to stop labelling knife crime a race issue

John Barnes has said that well-meaning celebrities such as Idris Elba could be making stereotypes about knife crime and race worse.

The former Liverpool player was speaking on Good Morning Britain where he explained the negative impact that he felt giving an opinion on the recent epidemic of stabbings could have.

He said: “If John Barnes or Idris Elba, we’re all well-meaning, but if we go on Twitter to say we’ve got to stop killing each other, that supports the narrative that it’s black on black crime, which it isn’t.


“John Barnes, who lives in a lovely little village, saying stop killing each other – they’ll say come and see where I live, I’ve got no opportunities educationally, socially, vocationally, and then tell me about what I should be doing.”

Barnes argued that similar knife crime issues in Glasgow and Manchester had been labelled a socioeconomic problem when it was white people involved in the incidents.

Luther star Elba had recently used his Instagram account to plead with gangs in London to stop killing each other.

Read more: Idris Elba speaks out against knife crime in London

The ITV breakfast show spent a lot of time on the issue as their weatherman Alex Beresford is grieving the loss of his cousin Nathan Armstrong, 29, who was fatally stabbed in Fulham in the early hours of Saturday morning.

They also spent a lengthy interview talking to rapper, author and journalist Akala about why knife crime is being wrongly represented as a race issue.

He said: “Over the last few years, some of the most horrendous knife attacks, the victims and the perpetrators have both been white and they’ve not been from London.

“When both the perpetrators and the victims are white, suddenly race becomes unimportant.”

He went on: “You could argue that only a particular demographic of young black boys at only a particular stage in their lives feel a degree of psychological self-hatred or contempt for themselves that they project onto other people who remind them of themselves.

“However, the black on black violence paradigm is never used in that way…it’s used to give the public the ridiculous impression that black school teachers, black doctors, black lawyers, black Premier League footballers, my grandmother, David Adjaye, Ozwald Boateng, are all at equal risk of violent crime.”

Read more: Murder victim was cousin of Good Morning Britain weatherman

Akala told host Piers Morgan: “You will never be called upon to explain that not all middle-aged white men are paedophiles, despite the fact that thousands of them are convicted of sex offences every year, because it’s self-evident that not all middle-aged white men are paedophiles.”

Beresford had recently made a passionate on-air speech about the need to tackle knife crime among young people.