Monday, 22 April 2013

Anniversary of Stephen Lawrence's Death

Stephen Lawrence was killed on 22 April in Eltham in 1993, 20 years ago today.  I heard his best mate Duwayne Brooks on LBC 97.3 this morning.  In fact I found excuses to stay in the kitchen so that I could listen to the radio.  He is now a Lib dem Councillor and from what I heard on the radio is very eloquent and passionate about what he does.

Having lived in London all my life, since 1973, I haven't witnessed a great deal of racism, but being married to a black man, I obviously have witnessed a little bit. I can't speak on behalf of Eltham though, having never been anywhere near it.

I would say, bringing up a mixed race son, now, in the year 2013, will see him experience less racism than he would have 20 years ago.  When he is singled out now, it is normally by people saying "aren't all mixed race children gorgeous".  Yes, thank you.  But equally aren't ALL children gorgeous.

If I was worried about racism, I could give Aaron a number two military haircut (thus hiding the curls of his heritage) and rely on the fact that he is surprisingly pale.  But no, I deliberately keep Aaron's hair long and curly, in an attempt to make sure he has his little afro, which is actually his signature statement.

In recent weeks Aaron has been saying "Daddy is black, Aaron is brown, and Mummy is white".  We didn't teach him this and we don't know where he gleaned it from, but I think it is innocently beautiful.  To him there are no differences in those 3 colours.  They are as equal as 3 of his toy cars of different colours.

What WAS funny is at nursery the other day, all the children were eating and Aaron broke the silence to say at the top of his voice "my Daddy is black" and he then pointed at a little girl and said "E, your Daddy is black too".  Bless him he singled her out as she is the same as him (white Mum and black Dad).

Plus, all of his cousins on his Dad's side are mixed race too (5 of them) so he does not at all feel unusual.

At the age of 40, the only racism I think me and my husband experienced as a couple was in Ireland (sadly the place of birth of ALL of my relatives). We went to Dublin for a long weekend whilst at University and we were stood together at a train station and someone shouted "go home".  Looking back it probably was 1993, the year of Stephen Lawrence's death.  

I would say Ireland and England have both come a long way since then.  I can't imagine it happening now.

As sad as the death was, and as much as the case was bungled, I am confident that the high profile case has pioneered lots of changes being made - maybe not enough - but I'd say we've come a long way.  This is probably largely down to the passion and drive of Stephen Lawrence's Mum, so as one Mum to another, I think of her today, on the anniversary of her son's death.

May he rest in peace. May his death not be in vain.  May she have the strength to continue the good work she has been doing.  May people embrace and understand each other and look beyond skin colour and appearances.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post. I think of Stephen Lawrence and his wonderful parents very often. Their experiences shape how I raise my kids and, alongside other things, how we discuss race, violence, respect and society.


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