Every time I speak to my mum, she illustrates her forethought and wisdom, which reminds me how unprepared I am to be a parent. I remember one morning talking to her about our flat and she mentioning while she was viewing the flat how she scoped it out and imagined escape routes in the event of an emergency. That morning was June 15th 2017.
By now it is widely known that the blaze was accelerated by the cladding that covered the structure. This cladding was reported to be highly flammable and supposedly banned on such high-rises. What is most worrying though is that Grenfell residents raised concerns to the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) about the safety of the tower block as they complained that there was a power surge issue in the building and worried that substandard materials were being used for its refurbishment. As these warnings were ignored residents increasingly feared that they would only be listened to after a major disaster and alas, unfortunately, they were right. This begs the question why such cladding was used for refurbishing the tower? The answer, seemingly to cut costs and improve its appearance.
That last statement is quite dense and in my opinion, explains why this would not have happened to wealthier residents. The tower was essential covered in inexpensive kindling, because £293,000 could be saved by the TMO, so that it would look better when viewed from conservation areas and luxury flats that surround North Kensington.
‘Aesthetic over safety.’
Recently I have been paranoid while driving. This has been fueled in part by me having a black box device fitted. This feeling of having the ‘freedom’ of my drive tracked hangs over me like a dark cloud but more menacingly the recent spate of acid attacks has played in my mind.
These savage attacks aren’t random however, they have been perpetrated on predominantly brown people who the assailants have assumed to be Muslim. The recent reporting of this by major news networks isn’t new to anyone on social media as users of Twitter readily report on the attacks speedily and often accurately.
As you might be wondering how these topics are linked let me explain. Some things are unavoidable, nobody is to blame when a hurricane or other natural disaster occurs leaving damage in its wake but some things can and should be preventable. The fire is a case of mismanagement and the impact of austerity where profit is prioritized over safety. The blame of this failing lies with the local governing body, TMO. Another linkage of these events, publicization.
‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’
This is a mantra we are taught as children to teach them not to put too much weight into what others may say. But is that naive when we also say ‘the tongue is sharper than the sword.’ We cannot keep ignoring the power of words especially when we can see their impact. You will be hard pressed to find ‘white’ and ‘terrorist’ in the same sentence even when all other facts demand the inclusion of both.
But ‘Islamist’, ‘extremist’ and or Muslim often follow each other. This helps foster the belief that Muslims are inherently terrorists which is false and thus leads to attacks against such people where the assailants feel justified.
This is where the double edge sword of publicization cuts, too much and you get senseless attacks and too little and people are ignored, like in Grenfell. The role of the mainstream media is vital, but we must demand better balance in reporting so that a clearer picture is seen.
Nevertheless, it is important to realize that what is covered by any outlet is not without its own bias. Therefore it is even more crucial that you receive your information from a plethora of sources to be more well informed.
Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it, so we must learn from the tragedies we are going through if we hope for things to improve in the future.
Peace and Love,
Aharoun the Author.