“The day that the black man takes an uncompromising step and realizes that he’s within his rights, when his own freedom is being jeopardized, to use any means necessary to bring about his freedom or put a halt to that injustice, I don’t think he’ll be by himself.” Malcom X
The Stephen Lawrence case has been running for as long as I can remember. Today we heard that the two murderers, Dobson and Norris got sentenced for 14 and 15 years. As Doreen Lawrence so emphatically stated, ‘this is not a moment for celebration,’ especially when you take into consideration that it took 18 years for the Lawrence family to receive some justice. Some justice purely because at least 9 other suspects remain at large.
The more I reflect on the Stephen Lawrence case the more I despair at the situation of race relations in UK today. The simple fact that it took 18 years to redeem the civil rights of an individual is horrifically unjust. Stephen Lawrence was murdered because he was black. It was his basic human right to be able to co-exist and reside within UK regardless of his colour. Yet that basic human right was severely undermined within the confines of the justice system.
Many people on twitter have complained that if Stephen had been a white boy and his attackers black, it would have been a completely different story. and this is what we have to address.
Racism did not begin with Stephen Lawrence, nor has it ended with him. It has brought the issue to the heart of the nation, like a jolt of electricity it has awoken some from the deluded slumber of denial in which they were operating. We have seen countless acts of racism in the past couple of months, most notably the woman who ranted on the tram, the comments that have emerged from senior footballing officials and many more. But we have also seen positive reactions. It is these positive reactions that we have to work on.
When Stephen Lawrence was murdered, at first there was a great denial that the murder was even race related, it was only until the Macpherson enquiry was published,that the British public, finally realised that we have a huge problem on our hands, the problem of institutional racism. The very same institutional racism that has led to a rise in stop and search operations within the black and asian community.
Yes the conscience of Britain has awoken, but for now the struggle remains to prevent it from sleeping.