From family support, fitness classes and learning to art exhibitions, festivals and talks, our activities are wide and far reaching.
Davidstar Royal King is a Coin Street social housing resident with an inspiring story and message to share. He kindly took the time to sit with us and tell us his story, so that we can help to share his message of advice for the younger generations. The following blog is a combination of quotes from Davidstar and information gathered from our interviews.
Please note that themes of violence, racism and loss are discussed within this blog post.
In the early 1990s, Davistar was building a promising career in boxing. "As a young child I tried to get a good job and it seemed impossible for me to get a positive, uplifting job. I did not want to drag myself and my community down, so that led me towards boxing, rather than being a gangster. I was living in East London, in Stratford at the time and I went to a famous Amateur Boxing Club called Repton. I was looked on as being a kind of Mike Tyson." On 30 April 1994 however, Davidstar's plans were tragically derailed when he was shot in the head.
Against all odds and doctor’s prognoses, even having a local vicar called to read him his last rights, Davidstar survived. Despite being told by doctors that he would never walk or talk again and that he would not be receiving any rehabilitation, Davidstar’s family knew his strength and fought for him to get further treatment. After writing to many organisations and MPs, they were able to get him a stay at King’s College London Hospital, followed by a rehabilitation centre near Wimbledon, the Wolfson Rehabilitation Hospital.
During the time of writing this blog, Davidstar's mum, Linda, sadly passed away. "Yesterday at 9.15am, my mother died in hospital in the West Indies, Nevis. My mum Linda is a star and she had 11 children and done the best she could do to look after we little ones and I will never forget my mum, Linda. When I was shot and left for dead, my mum and dad were still alive and devastated to see me on the bed in intensive care at Kings College Hospital. I survived and lived to see my dad passing and my mum passing and although it is sad, it makes me happy to see that I lived and saw them pass away."
It is a credit to Linda and Davidstar's family that he was able to receive the treatment he needed to live on and continue to make many memories in the years since. However, it is through his own determination and resourcefulness that Davidstar has become the man he is today. One night, his local pub had karaoke.
“Something in my brain said, ‘do karaoke, it will improve your voice.’ I sung the most energetic, uplifting song by Taste of Honey; ‘Boogie, Oogie, Oogie, till you just can’t boogie no more,’” Davidstar told us, singing this excerpt of the song.
“It started to kickstart my brain into self-adjusting, so every week I would do karaoke in my local pub. I was terrible at first but after a while there was a true transformation, words began to sound solid and fit in better, now I freestyle, I do it my way (singing). Karaoke helped me speak again, I even speak better than how I spoke before I got shot.”
Wherever he goes, Davidstar carries with him an eclectic assortment of objects and images, including a picture of Charlie Chaplin. “I was silent when I was on the hospital bed. Charlie Chaplin was a silent comedian, but he managed to express angles of comedy what no one could ever do. I was silent but I’m not silent no more. I make a lot of noise because I’ve got something to say.”
“In a way, watching Charlie Chaplin, seeing his movement and expressions, in a way that acted as a therapy as well. Making jokes, not really being funny but trying to break down the walls is what I obtained from Charlie Chaplin. But I’m not silent, and I’m a different colour!”
Davidstar’s aim is to help the next generation, to show them there’s another way, other than violence.
His vision is that children need to be taught to investigate, to be more observant and therefore able to create their own opinions and form their actions from those.
“They’re not just following the crowd, they individually must know what they want to be and they may not want to help the next generation, they might only just be for themselves but at least they are able to have a full look at things and decide they want to go down that road, rather than following others.”
He has observed that our schools could play a big role in helping young people to learn more about those that have come before them.
“The traffic light was created by a so-called slave (Garrett A. Morgan); even though he was suppressed under the slave concept, he was a genius... think about it if there was no traffic lights, how much people would suffer, it has expanded to all kinds of guidance.”
“Children of all races should be taught in school about inventors that have been ignored and the true accounts of people past that have been ignored. This hasn’t been focused on... so some children aren’t learning where they truly come from, they’re learning hate not self-love.”
“The British imperialist system, it was very corrupt and evil but it’s not actually taught that way in school, therefore children will think it’s ok to behave in that way. They might not see it on that level but if they are learning about it, if they come across things that are done that are not seen as being terribly evil and racist... [if] all of this negative behaviour is not explored enough then they see it is acceptable to behave in that way.”
“My repair of brain means I have to work things out, I can’t just sit down and watch EastEnders and be doing nothing. Part of my therapy was to visualise what is going on and that is what I’ve discovered.”
Davidstar's experiences have given him a clear view of how we can help the younger generation and the messages he would like to share. He outlined the importance of looking further than the information you are given, to come to your own viewpoint from which to decide your actions.
“Don’t draw conclusions without asking. The minds of many need to be more inquisitive so that they can make a choice whether to help or support. They need to link together in discussions and be more inquisitive but also be willing to have questions asked of them. In a way we have all got to adjust but if no one don’t quiz anyone, there’s no improvement, everything is covered up and that is that.”
“Visualisation, investigation will open your eye able to make a better choice. Visualisation is a choice. A child don’t fully gather it’s their choice of what they visualise themselves to be like or similar to. To be like a gangster or a hip hop artist. A good positive example is Tupac. He opened the minds of many children, looking at political issues... Get to find out what’s going on and then you can make a better choice on your actions.”
It's not just individuals that can make an impact, Davidstar sees the importance of sharing information and learning from peers. “Young people also have to be open – if they make themselves open to other people, others will do the same. They need to be examples to each other, it bounces off each other and before you know it, problems will be solved. It’s a bounce back of information.”
He has come to see that this openness to each other and differing points of view can help us to recognise our similarities, rather than our differences and lead to more peaceful interactions. “Always keep cool, try not to get hot-headed and doing violent acts or acting in an aggressive fashion when there is other choices of action what could actually be using certain words so a person that is thinking you’re the enemy gets to find out you’re not the enemy.”
Davidstar went on to explain why spreading his message is so important to him and in society. “Because everything has a chain reaction. You can have choice on how to react. Your choices of reaction to certain circumstances. If people don’t want to observe or know, when things go sour grapes/ not the way they expect it to go, it’s because they haven’t been very observant and they haven’t responded to issues when they should have responded to issues.”
By taking the time to observe fully the situations we encounter and investigate the viewpoints of others, we can see the full picture and act based on true circumstances, rather than our own beliefs and quick judgements. “The children must be given the opportunity to visualise and investigate, come to their own point of view, for their own efforts, that is the paveway for the future."
Davidstar's message is not just for children and young people, it can be applied to those at all stages of life; there is something we can all take from his words. "You’re never too old to learn. You’ve got to get over situations and as long as you’re alive, you’re able to always get on higher highs where you’re inquisitive and not just accepting what you’re told. You’re inquisitive, you say “what’s going on here, what is that, what does that mean?”
If everyone was like that, can’t you see that things would get better?
Thank you very much, Davidstar, for sharing your story so candidly. We hope that it inspires all who read it.
If you have any questions, or would like to get in touch with Davidstar, please email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org