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I don t believe in the term gang. Yes, I've had a violent past and made reckless choices I m not proud of but it s too easy (and lazy) to throw around this gang label. We were just a group of multi-cultural kids who lived on common ground and shared a similar struggle. I m not trying to say I m just some victim of circumstances, the truth is I became a victim of my excuses. There was a strong come-unity but we also came from broken families, poverty and had crime, drugs and violence all around us. This social deprivation caused misguided pride, confused loyalty and thinking we had an extended family on the estate.
We didn’t really act like no family though. Disputes were settled with manpower, knifes and guns. Familiar faces from childhood became bitter enemies in war with only a road separating us from the front line. We were in prisons the size of our boroughs and each estate felt like a different prison wing. The joke is we thought we owned the streets. We thought we were free. I ve lost some good people to the street. And I don’t just mean death and prison. I mean the street mentality took away a part of us. Took away who we were destined to become. Our future.
This is the story of my journey. It s a reflection of how I fell out of one system and rushed into another. The story of how I became a prisoner to the streets and somehow escaped. I learnt the hard way that you can t be real in something that s fake and you don t need walls around you to be imprisoned. This is the story of my life on road.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Prisoner to the Streets is a ferocious read. Robyn Travis tells his own startling, unsettling and ultimately redemptive story with an honesty that we found completely refreshing. Travis paints a vivid and bleak picture of his involvement in East London’s brutal “postcode” gang wars of the late 1990s and early 2000s—and the hopelessness of young black men in his situation. He doesn’t ask for sympathy, instead filling the pages of his life story with hard-earned wisdom and stirring purpose.