19 years ago today, the Macpherson Report, which followed the MacPherson Inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, was published. The mainstream media were virtually if not entirely, unanimous in accepting that the Macpherson Inquiry, had proved the existence of ‘institutional racism’ in the police and wider society.
See here for an academic paper with a different perspective. It is important to look at the detail; the Report did not actually conclude that any of the officers involved in the investigation of Stephen Lawrence’s murder were influenced by racism. Nor did it conclude that the outcome of the investigation was influenced by racism.
The Report defined ‘institutional racism’ as:
“The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people.”
Being colour blind, i.e. treating ethnic minorities as indistinct from the indigenous British population, was deemed to fit this definition (see page 123 of the paper).
The conduct of the Inquiry was quite incredible, with there being attempts to extract apologies and to force confessions, from witnesses (see for instance, pages 27 & 28, detailing the interaction between Dr Stone of the Runneymede Trust and Sir Paul Condon) .
The paper also considers the political philosophies influencing the Inquiry, in particular Trotskyism and the Frankfurt School of Marxism.
I would certainly recommend reading the paper and, if you have the time, the Report itself.