Thursday, 5 January 2012

The privileged whites are playing divide and rule again

It has been a week of remarkable media synergy as 18 years of ongoing injustice has reached partial closure with the sentencing of Gary Dobson and David Norris for the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Newspapers from across the political spectrum – from the Morning Star and Socialist Worker to the Daily Mail and Daily Express – have rightfully rejoiced at the guilty verdict handed down to Dobson and Norris – but it is wrong to think the adjudication represents anything other than an incomplete victory. Furthermore, the fragile coalition of media consensus and sombre introspection has been blown apart by the furore surrounding Diane Abbott’s innocuous – if clumsily worded – Tweet that "White people love playing 'divide & rule'. We should not play their game"

Dobson's and Norris's sentencing is not testimony to a society which defends equality and justice, instead it indicates a society which continues to struggle with corruption, scape-goating and racism. Until systemic problems of institutional racism within the police – as identified in the Macpherson Report – have been resolved then racism will continue to blight our society. As police continue to disproportionately target black youths – in 1999 a black person was six times more likely to be stopped and searched by police; in 2006/7 it was seven times – hatred and bigotry will be reinforced.

Furthermore, as the Daily Mail has ridden the wave of public ignominy, it is wrong to view the paper which often makes Mein Kampf look moderate, as anything other than part of the problem. The xenophobic bile which the Mail gushes forth – and the moral indignation it has mustered to condemn Abbott – serves only to reinforce divisions and prejudice.

As Jyoti Bhojani argued on Labour List
So it saddens me that in a momentous week, where whilst 18 years too late we saw Gary Dobson and David Norris convicted and sentenced for the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, we are not talking about race relations. Instead the media are obsessing over Diane Abbott’s tweet
The media is abdicating from its core purpose to provide thorough objective analysis by resorting to crass sensationalism rather than investigating the underlying power structures which engender and perpetuate racism.

People of black and minority ethnic communities remain hugely underrepresented within parliament, the police force and business – if the vilification of Diane Abbott is anything to go by, it’s no wonder they are unable or unwilling to reach these positions. I guess it’s just a group of privileged white people playing ‘divide and rule’.

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