It occurred to me as I came to write this article, that I hold strong positions against racism, failing to understand this concept that drives some aspects of human interaction towards being so degrading to another individual. My assertions of being against racism have all been fashioned by what I have consumed via mass media - and having left the shores of the Caribbean and moved to the United Kingdom my little instances of wondering in some situations I have encountered: Is it because I Iz Black?
Persons from the UK or those familiar with the Ali G character would be aware of the phrasing aforementioned in quotations.
The Oxford Dictionary, defines racism to be prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior.
The family and friends of murdered teenager, Stephen Lawrence, today are not asking themselves jokingly, Is It because I Iz Black? The recent revelations against London's Metropolitan Police (MET) of targeting and spying on the Lawrence family as they toiled for justice for the murder of their son Stephen allegations made by former undercover police officer, Peter Francis - tells that family firmly that the MET police looked to discredit them precisely because they are black!
As we collectively express our outrage, we have all become, through solidarity, honourary members of the Lawrence family.
The Stephen Lawrence murder and subsequent handling of the investigation by the Metropolitan Police resonated, and still does today for many of Britain's ethnic communities. Stephen's murder and the subsequent quest for justice brought up a vibrant discussion about race relations in Britain that had not occurred for some time. The idea of racism being rife across some of the institutions of Britain meant to protect citizens was all too glaring. Some wanted to have this debate but it seems the MET did not wish for its skeletons to be borne in public, so instead of channelling resources towards bringing to justice Stephen's killers, they embarked instead to shame the memory of Stephen by going after his immediate family, close friends and supporters.
The fact that Prime Minister Cameron has come out forcefully denouncing the action of the MET shows how seriously these allegations are to be taken. It centralises deep rooted questions around the accountability of MET.
Prime minister Cameron stated; "Let's be clear, these are absolutely dreadful allegations and we can only think of the Lawrence family, who have suffered so much already from the loss of their son.
"To hear that, potentially, the police that were meant to be helping them were actually undermining them that's horrific _ We must make sure those investigations get rapidly to the bottom of what's happened and we get the full truth out."
Where does multicultural Britain stand in the debate about race in 2013? Is multiculturalism in Britain presented merely as a measuring tool for social statistics or does Britain's multicultural makeup project a society that is treated fairly and without discrimination regardless of background and skin shade? London's MET police have for years been accused of racially targeting minority groups, particularly young Black and Muslim men by their alleged abuse of stop and search powers. Hence, I was not surprised at the revelation that the MET infiltrated and spied upon the Lawrence family. It is disgusting for sure their actions, but what we have here is another indication of the system that is meant to protect society from racial bigotry and profiling, themselves are involved in protecting the racists within their ranks. In this pigsty of hate and institutionalised racism, how can the MET police expect to gain public confidence when they have been shamed so brutally with this Lawrence family revelation?
The UK's Home Secretary, Theresa May, has come out strong in light of these damaging allegations against the MET and has promised a zero tolerance policy on police corruption and wrongdoing.
I wonder though if her words will carry any comfort within London's black and minority ethnic communities who have long charged that the MET was racist to its core.
Stephen Lawrence's Dad, Neville Lawrence is demanding a judicial investigation into these troubling allegations that the MET spied upon his family. The MET has done itself irreparable damage as public trust is vital for them to function effectively.
From the revelations of government spying and now police spying, the question must be asked again, who checks those charged with protecting our communities under the guise of enforcing the rule of law? The intoxication of power is a dangerous slope towards the eventual abuse of power.
Jeevan Robinson is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of MNI Alive. MNI Alive is a global Caribbean marketing, networking and information (MNI) media house. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org