When the verdict came through I was surprised, that justice would be done. And then I caught myself saying, ‘justice is done.’ And then I realized that one verdict, one conviction of the murder of an unarmed Black man in the scheme of the 140 so who have been murdered unarmed in America, and all those harmed in custody across the United Kingdom as well; One conviction is no more justice than eating one salad is a diet. Accountability perhaps. This is accountability. It’s funny how I don’t imagine that to be any solace to the family members with a hole in their heart.
None of you are responsible, perhaps, for this. …But I imagine this is very detached from your reality. But I have been saying again and again and again that we must understand that the narrative that the police use and that many organizations use about ‘bad apples;” that’s 15th Century, ‘A Cox Tale,’ it’s from Chaucer’s Cox Tale about bad apples. We’ve been using it wrong. It’s not a good thing to say we’ve only got a couple of bad apples. Because Chaucer knew something that we’ve should have known by now is that one bad apple spreads it rot throughout. But what will you do? …across the course of your day. This Stephen Lawrence Day? There will be an opportunity for you to witness incivility. It might be racism or sexism it might be something nothing to do with a protected category but you will spot it. And the question will be, ‘If you are interested in justice this systemic justice where the meeting out of what is right is normal and habitual. What will you do to sustain that? People like to think that culture is defined by the most common behavior. Or by our rightful conviction of the egregious offenders. But it is not. Culture is defined by the worst behavior you tolerate. On your next team’s meeting, your next zoom meeting, your next in person meeting, what will you do to ensure a culture of inclusion and justice? People never talk about what we lose. We imagine the people murdered by the police are somehow unworthy. But we lose so much. As if we’re an ancient civilization sacrificing Black blood to the earth in the hope that enough of it will create justice.