Over the years, the media narrative around knife crime has often disappointingly remained the same, a picture is painted of troubled youths who are affiliated with gangs who commit violent acts simply over postcode wars or drugs.
This narrative is simplistic and reductionist and does nothing to get to the true heart of the story. It is vital that those who have experienced knife crime first hand are placed front and centre and have their voices amplified if we truly want to tackle it, ENTER AMANI SIMPSON.
Meet Amani Simpson:
Amani Simpson is a 30 year old Filmmaker and entrepreneur, from Enfield in North London who has been an active campaigner in changing narratives around the complex reality of knife crime.
In July of 2011 at the age of 21, Amani was stabbed seven times. In contrast to the stereotypical cases - he hadn’t come from a ‘troubled home’, he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
After being stabbed, an incident Amani described as “life changing”, Amani sought to change his life. He had been unhappy with the steps that had led to that point and saw this second chance at life as an opportunity to create a new story.
Since then, Amani has done extensive work in not only changing the way knife crime is discussed but also standing as a shining example of what can be achieved through focus, hard work and the correct mindset.
Breaking boundaries with Amani:
At the end of 2018, many years of work culminated to the release of a short film titled ‘AMANI’. The gripping film dramatised the events of Amani’s stabbing and laid bare the tragic realities of knife crime, the prospective futures that are squandered and the loved ones that are left to grieve. The story stars the amazing Joivan Wade who has appeared in The First Purge, Shiro’s story and most recently acted as Cyborg in DC's Doom Patrol. The release of AMANI was a massive success as it managed to rack up a staggering 1 million views in only 4 days.
For Amani, one of the main messages behind this project is the need for greater empathy with those who become victims of knife crime. he commented:
People are marginalised and are victims of circumstance”.
what the future holds:
Off the back of the film, Amani and his company Aviard attempts to inspire and have run early intervention workshops within schools. These workshops aim to have honest conversations about the consequences of certain choices and to hopefully act as a preventative measure for the teenagers of tomorrow.
Amani’s work has led to him being interviewed on both the BBC and ITV, as well as partaking in important conversations around the experience of black males on the popular daytime news show Victoria Derbyshire.
A short scroll through Amani’s social media will give you a clear picture as to the heights his transformed lifestyle has taken him.
From having his face plastered on the London underground as one the faces of the Mayor’s ‘London need your lives’ anti-knife crime advert, to being invited to an early screening of Jamie Fox & Michael B Jordan’s ‘Just Mercy’ film. Amani’s work has led him to some great opportunities - Furthermore, Amani’s message to any young people who find themselves where he once was is:
“change your friends, change your environment, find mentors and seek out change, if your mind can go somewhere your body will be sure to follow.”
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