Two bombs aimed to injure and scare the Black and Asian communities; official government reports acknowledging institutional racism in the police force and other institutions; 13,878 police recorded racial incidents in 1998--Britain this year has been forced to face up to the issue of racism. I believe the cause of this racism is the fear of diversity.
As somebody who was brought up in the multi-ethnic city of Bradford, I have always been aware of my colour and culture. As somebody who despises prejudice and exploitation I have always appreciated Britain as a stable country that celebrates its diversity. Yet recent events in Britain have shown that difference is not always celebrated but sometimes feared and resented. A different colour makes you stand out as somebody who is not in the majority and humans feel safe when they are surrounded by people similar to them. Thus we have racism, one of many prejudices.
This year the London bombings and the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry have forced Britain to learn an important lesson: not to ignore racism but to fight it, not to resent difference but to celebrate it. On the day of the Lawrence Report Home Secretary Jack Straw stated, `The very process of the inquiry has opened all our eyes to what it is like to be black or Asian in Britain today and the inquiry process has revealed some fundamental truths about the nature of our society. Some truths are uncomfortable but we have to confront them.' Prime Minister Tony Blair said, `We should confront honestly the racism in our society, we should find within ourselves the will to overcome it... to make sure this type of thing never happens in our country again'. A fight against institutional racism has begun because the most powerful people in Britain now realise how important diversity is.
Harjinder Kaur, UK