Now, suddenly, racism and racist violence have become NEWS. That is a big change. As for the report, we hope it will usher in a new age of openness by recognising some self-evident truths. In these modern times, racism is covert and it breeds when it is locked away behind closed doors. One message that we hope will come out of the report is: if you have nothing to hide, then let us see what you are doing and how you are doing it. But let's also never forget that it was the murder of an 18-year-old boy, Stephen Lawrence, that brought us to this point.
FOR BETTER or worse, "institutional racism" has come to be seen as central to the Lawrence inquiry. If it could be scoured out of the police, the conscious and unconscious racism that holds British society together would unravel. The Met has the task of protecting almost half the ethnic- minority population of Britain. Change here has a deep importance, which is both symbolic and practical. Sir William's report is a call for action, not further dialectics. His workmanlike definition of institutionalised racism takes things well beyond Lord Scarman's anxieties about bad apples. Sir William is seeking to replant the orchard.
CHANGE WILL only occur when those charged with leading us admit that racial hatred is rife within our society, and when they create an environment in which racism cannot flourish. The Government commissioned this inquiry and has long stated that it is listening to us. We have done our part, led by the Lawrence family. We now expect the Government to tackle racism at every level in society. If it fails to do so, it is doing an injustice to its black electorate.
We are all the poorer for the death of Stephen Lawrence, but his short life must not be wasted. The time for platitudes and talk is over.
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