The challenge remains: can we rid Britain of murderous racism?

The idea that we are interlopers, to be tolerated at best and killed at worst, is deeply rooted

SO THE boil disfiguring the face of our country is finally lanced as the Lawrence Inquiry Report is published. It is hard not to feel relief as the poison oozes out and the wound is cleaned, bandaged and diagnosed by those we must trust. After all, they include a judge, a bishop and a doctor. But the carbuncle was only a symptom of something more endemic and treacherous, and this is, at least partially, recognised by Macpherson.

The public and the establishment must accept that what the Lawrences started is the beginning and not the end of a long process of honest examination which implicates all of us in this country. To do this, three things are essential. First we must remove from our minds the all-too-familiar faces in this drama - Doreen and Neville Lawrence, the five brutes who stand accused, the unsmiling Imran Khan, the theatrical Mike Mansfield and, up to a point, even Paul Condon, as people.

Second, we must not be conned by words of fine intent by those who know they are culpable. And finally, the Government must be prepared to go much further than a report which, by definition, cannot go beyond certain parameters - although this one has gone further than was expected by making recommendations on education and race legislation. In fact, the most lasting benefits of this report may come from these broader proposals if, as is likely, they are taken on board. The dangerous anomaly in the 1976 Race Relations Act, which exempted crucial government activities such as policing, criminal justice and immigration in particular, is now to be scrapped.

Great expectations have been raised by this exercise. If there is any indication that the powers that be are trying to avoid radical steps, and that the politics of placation are beginning to play out, it will be intolerable to all of us black and Asian Britons, and to anti-racist white Britons too.

I see this already over the issue of whether Sir Paul Condon should go. Jack Straw says he should stay. The reasons given are unconvincing. If Sir Paul is as decent as his PR suggests, how can he bear not to go? Not only has this man presided over an investigation that the inquiry describes as "marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and failure of leadership"; he was the person to authorise substantial pay-outs (remember, it is our money) to black people complaining of racist treatment by his officers, who thus escaped punishment.

Condon was also in charge when Joy Gardner was killed when being arrested by police and immigration officers. We are in the middle of another set of complaints of bad policing by the families of Ricky Reel and Michael Menson. To keep Condon on is to make a nonsense of the "shame" that Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Grieve says the force now feels.

Even more staggering is the news that Condon has decided to reappoint the Met race equality trainer, one Jerome Mack, who has been paid handsomely (remember it is our money again) over a decade, for providing training many black officers consider utterly pointless. As one of them told me: "Mack just makes racist policemen feel good. That is why they have him."

My concern, though, is not only with Condon and his power. Let us use this period of discontent to consider the wider effects of police racism and what we can do to make our forces more accountable and deserving of the reputation they would wish.

It is vital to start listening to the many other voices of those who have suffered racist violence; to scrutinise the media responses to what has been going on for half a century; to discuss how our education system has failed young black and white children alike and helped create the racists who killed not only Stephen, but Rohit Duggal (15), Rolan Adams (15), Navid Sadiq (15), Liam Harrison (14), Manish Patel (15), Rikki Reel ( 18), Imran Khan (15), Michael Menson (29), Ali Ibrahim (21), Ashiq Hussain (21), Ruhullah Aramesh (24), Panchadcharam Sathiharan (28), Donna O'Dwyer (26) and 14 others who have been murdered in the United Kingdom during this decade alone.

God alone knows how high the figure would be if we went back further, to include murders such as those of Ahmed Iqbal Ullah (13) in Manchester by another child, and then added on the countless others seriously wounded, such as Mukhtar Ahmad (19), who was a pupil at the Bethnal Green training centre where I used to work, and who came in one day with a face like an Underground map and wildly fearful eyes.

Add to these victims the dozens of black and Irish people who have died of violence inflicted on them by the police while being arrested or in police custody (The Institute of Race Relations has been collating this information as has the Lawrence Inquiry. The list is long and frightening), and you begin to get a true sense of the true picture. If we don't take on the massive task before us, we put at risk the health of our nation.

It really does not matter what we choose to call it (I personally think that the term "institutional racism" used in the Macpherson report is unhelpful, and is already creating more barriers to understanding because, to date, there are at least 12 different meanings of the term) but all the evidence we have before us in this report and many others shows that there is a pervasive culture of racial prejudice, racist assumptions and behaviour in all our public institutions from the Army and police to the self-reverential BBC.

This does not mean that all white people are racist, or that there has been no improvement. But the idea that black and Asian Britons are interlopers, to be tolerated at best and killed at worst, is so deeply rooted in the culture of our institutions that it will take real political will and effective punitive measures to pull these attitudes out and grow something else in their place.

What is remarkable is that we have three political leaders for the first time in our history who are united in their determination to do just this. So I do have hope.

Stephen, you have become the son of this nation in a way that you could never have imagined. As you look down at us today, I hope you can see that nothing can ever be the same again for white or black Britons.

We will make a new country. Those who have been fighting for so long, will not let you down by setting for anything less.

Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

music
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
Arts and Entertainment
Look out: Broad shoulders take Idris Elba’s DCI John Luther a long way
tvIdris Elba will appear in two special episodes for the BBC next year
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

art
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Len Goodman appeared to mutter the F-word after Simon Webbe's Strictly performance

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T makes his long-awaited return to the London stage
musicReview: Alexandra Palace, London
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 back in 2001 when they also supported 'Children in Need'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth rejoins Tess Daly to host the Strictly Come Dancing Children in Need special
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan plays Christian Grey getting ready for work

Film More romcom than S&M

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Review: The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
The comedian Daniel O'Reilly appeared contrite on BBC Newsnight last night

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
The American stand-up Tig Notaro, who performed topless this week

Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars

Arts and Entertainment

TVNetflix gets cryptic

Arts and Entertainment
Claudia Winkleman is having another week off Strictly to care for her daughter
TV
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Children in Need is the BBC's UK charity. Since 1980 it has raised over £600 million to change the lives of disabled children and young people in the UK

TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his winning novel

Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination

Arts and Entertainment
Bryan Cranston will play federal agent Robert Mazur in The Infiltrator

Books
Arts and Entertainment
Nicki Minaj's lyric video for 'Only' features Drake as the Pope, Minaj as a dictator and Chris Brown as an army leader

music 'It was inspired by Cartoon Network'

Arts and Entertainment
James Nesbit in The Missing on BBC 1

TV review

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

    Immigration: Obama's final frontier

    The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

    Scoot commute

    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
    Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

    The Paul Robeson story

    How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
    10 best satellite navigation systems

    Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

    Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
    Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

    Paul Scholes column

    England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
    Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

    Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

    Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
    Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

    'How do you carry on? You have to...'

    The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

    'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

    Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
    Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

    Sir John Major hits out at theatres

    Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
    Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

    Kicking Barbie's butt

    How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines
    Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?

    What are Jaden and Willow on about?

    Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?
    Fridge gate: How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces

    Cold war

    How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces
    Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

    Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

    From dogs in cars to online etiquette, while away a few minutes in peace with one of these humorous, original and occasionally educational tomes
    Malky Mackay appointed Wigan manager: Three texts keep Scot’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

    Three texts keep Mackay’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

    New Wigan manager said all the right things - but until the FA’s verdict is delivered he is still on probation, says Ian Herbert