Thursday, 5 January 2012

Benjamin Zephaniah (b.15/08/58) - What Stephen Lawrence Has Taught Us

Yesterdays sentencing , gives us nothing to celebrate. In the words of Ms Lawrence " How can I celebrate when my son is buried? Had the police done their job properly I would have spent the last 18 years grieving for my son rather than fighting to get his killers in court.". If their had not been so much institutionalised racism, perhaps Stephens killers would have been jailed much earlier, but the police failed to arrest anyone at the time, back in 1993. Where's the justice too for Lakhvider " Ricky"  Reel , murdered 4 years after Stephen, and the many other victims of racist violence.
Two have know been convicted for Stephens brutal murder,( Gary Dobson and David Norris)  time for the rest of them Neil Acourt, Jamie Acourt and Luke Knight to be sent down too.They should not be allowed to rest easy.
Their sentences should be long, despite the fact that they were juvenille at the time, they have shown no remorse, consistently lied and flaunted and paraded their arrogance. Shown themselves as the cowardly racists they are.
Sadly the ugly reality of racist hatred still lingers. It needs to be crushed and condemned at all times. Only then can we really move on. Perhaps the media can stop pandering to the venomous views of the historian David Starkey and others like him (  the odious newspaper 'the Daily Mail and its many rabid columnists is particularly alarming )  who contribute largely to perpetuating racist belief. Not all racists fit the stereotype of a skinhead in bovver boots anymore, they come in all shapes and sizes. For some rascist abuse is a daiy reality. We cannot tolerate it anymore, we should not let hatred consume us, and if that means banning the British National Party and other racist organisations, so be it.
I leave you with this , that the brilliant Dub poet Benjamin Zephaniah, wrote back in 1999, still pertinent, still raising questions.

What Stephen Lawrence Has Taught Us.

We know who the killers are,
We have watched them strut before us
As proud as sick Mussolinis',
We have watched them strut before us
Compassionate and arrogant,
They paraded before us,
Like angels of death
Protected by the law.

It is now an open secret
Black people do not have
Chips on their shoulders,
They just have injustice on their backs
And justice on their minds,
And now we know that the road to liberty
Is as long as the road from slavery.

The death of Stephen Lawrence
Has taught us how to love each other
And never to take the tedious task
Of waiting for a bus for granted.
Watching his parents watching the cover-up
Begs the question
What are the trading standards here?
Why are we paying for a police force
That will not work for us?

The death of Stephen Lawrence
Has taught us
That we cannot let the illusion of freedom
Endow us with a false sense of security as we walk the streets,
The whole world can now watch
The academics and the super cops
Struggling to define institutionalised racism
As we continue to die in custody
As we continue emtying our pockets on the pavements,
And we continue to ask ourselves
Why is it so official
That black people are so often killed
Without killers?

We are not talking about war or revenge
We are not talking about hypothetics or possibilities,
We are talking about where we are now
We are talking about how we live now
In dis state
Under dis flag, ( God Save the Queen),
And God save all those black children who want to grow up
And God save all the brothers and sisters
Who like raving,
Because the death of Stephen Lawrence
Has taught us that racism is easy when
You have friends in high places
And friends in high places
Have no use whatsoever
When they are not your friends.

Dear Mr Condon,
Pop out of Teletubby land,
And visit reality,
Come to an honest place
And get some advice from your neighbours,
Be enlightened by our community,
Neglect your well-paid ignorance
We know who the killers are.

Reprinted from Too Black , Too Strong
Bloodaxe 2001.

For more Benjamin Zephaniah go here


  1. Here's a recent video of Benjamin Zephaniah reciting this piece