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
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
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.

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine