The audio footage released by the media, of a young black man being subjected to allegedly racist abuse at the hands of the police, is an occurrence that not many members of ethnic minorities will find shocking. Disgusting, abhorrent and repulsive? Yes, but shocking? Not remotely. Indeed having listened to the footage myself, what I found myself really asking is how this young black male was able to surreptitiously record this bigoted abuse undetected. And whilst we can all be taking tips from this man in lessons of cunning, we in the black community and beyond must also applaud and thank him for opening the eyes of many to the fact that today, racism still pervades this country on a wide scale.
It would be irresponsible for me to make assumptions about the differences in race relations between now and the 1980s. I can only speak for the state of racism now; everything I hear about the 70s and 80s has either been read about or dictated to me. However one cannot ignore the chilling similarities between the accosting of a young black youth by the police in 2011 and the oppressive policing experienced by the black community in the 80s. Does this suggest that the police are falling back into old habits? Of course not, it simply gives rise to the idea that the police are institutionally racist, just as it was in the 80s, just as it had been at the time of Stephen Lawrence's murder and as it has been infrequently argued after the millennium. To the many citizens who come from ethnic minorities here in the UK, the recording simply confirms the view that they have held for a long time: nothing has changed. Society has to do more to fight racism in this country it is as simple as that.
However before we start tapping into the country's psyche, people in the black community, the Asian community and other minority communities need to become more collective in the fight against racism. Being a young black student who has been surrounded by people of all backgrounds, I have been lucky enough to hear the views of many on the issue of racism and the belief that we, as a society, have "moved on" from racism is surprisingly prevalent. However I have found that when given multiple evidences that suggest otherwise, they are often brushed aside as being nothing more than "isolated incidents". The sweeping under the carpet of issues of racism in this country has often been the work of the minority communities themselves, particularly those of us who are second generation immigrants. All because we are not subjected to or witness racism, we are susceptible to falling into a false sense of security. For our communities to be able to fight the problem, we must all be able to see the problem be it direct or indirect.
Indeed another part of the problem is the fact that the authorities are not doing enough to tackle this problem from the inside, and this is partly a result of underlying attitudes held by those who make up our authorities. In 2012 a black person is still considered to be "aggressive" when the same behaviour exhibited by a white person would be described as "firm" or "assertive". A black individual is certainly more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than his white peer and yes, many of you will point to statistics that say that black youths commit proportionally more crime. Now I ask you to look at statistics which highlight the racial make-up of those who live in comparatively poor areas, with lower income per household and see how the statistics correlate. Many believed that the majority of rioters during the London riots of 2012 were of Afro-Caribbean descent, one need only be reminded of the vile views that David Starkey aired publicly on Newsnight. But what about Salford, a predominantly white city? Were they themselves not involved in the riots that swept through the nation? But society does not stress this enough and we the ethnic minorities are left to fight a battle which many feel we will never win, when we see the Crown Prosecution Service dismissing cases such as that of the accosted black youth, until there is uproar in the media. More needs to be done.
However we cannot wait for another event like this to arise. We cannot afford to wait for another murder of one of our own, as we saw with the Trayvon Martin case in the US and the Stephen Lawrence saga before that, to occur before we take action. We are lucky to have been presented with this audio footage. This case is only isolated in the sense that we actually have physical proof of this abhorrent racism. The mind boggles when one thinks about the number of similar cases that have gone unreported and ignored. Racism will never be completely wiped out but we can stifle it. But let's not get carried away by the fact that society says we are getting better without demanding any real proof.
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