Stephen Lawrence, a young Black student from south-east London was murdered in a brutal racist attack in 1993. Lawrence’s family after 18 years of persistent campaigning, witnessed the guilty verdicts handed down to David Norris and Gary Dobson.
A lot can be taken from the Lawrence case; why did it take so long to convict Norris and Dobson? Were the sentences correct? Norris and Dobson had been given 18 years of freedom before convicted. That’s the same as Lawrence’s entire lifetime. Has justice actually been delivered?
Perhaps the most important aspect to focus on now is whether or not the lessons of Lawrence case will carry through to today’s society. The truth is, there are still many families of victims of racist attacks waiting for justice. Not only that, there are still racist attacks taking place today.
Despite the beliefs of those who do not directly witness it, racism still thrives amongst our institutions and society. Worst of all, it still exists in the institutions created with the intentions to protect us; the police. And also in the one’s created to inform us: the media.The Macpherson inquiry that followed Lawrence’s death concluded the Metropolitan Police to be “institutionally racist” and stated that officers made fundamental errors during the case.
The scary fact remains that racism derived from subconscious prejudices is now silenced, almost unnoticed because it is indirect and even in some cases unintentional. Academic racism is an example of this. Anonymous marking prevents unfair marking, but it is not the solution. Ultimately we should also be working towards creating a society in which anonymous marking is not a necessity.
And what about organisations such as the English Defence League (EDL)? The EDL and other fascist organisations are allowed to promote hate and increase racial tensions amongst our society. This hate leads to attacks and murders just like Stephen Lawrence was subjected to.
Days after the sentences were delivered to Lawrence’s murderers, the caseovershadowed by condemnations of Diane Abbott for her twitter comments. We must not let attention to be diverted in this way. We must concentrate on those with racist sentiments which lead to harmful serious issues rather than political correctness, and condemning those who have no real fascist intentions.
Do not forget what happened to Stephen Lawrence. Do not forget what his family faced. And most of all do not forget that there are many many others out there facing the same plight.
We must continue to challenge and fight racism, wherever we may find it.
Peace and Love