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Life after the Macpherson report

DISAPPOINTED: Marquell Milford, Maxie Hales, Sandra Golding

LIFE FOR the black community in the wake of the Macpherson report has been ‘very disappointing’ says veteran community activist Maxie Hayles.

He said: “I think we all expected the legislation after Macpherson to be far more progressive and effective in bringing justice to black people who are the most vulnerable in society. I believe we need a complete overhaul of the criminal justice system because it has damaged too many people’s lives. Racial harassment is still rife, but it has become more subtle. In a way that is more damaging because some of the perpetrators are intelligent people.”

Hayles was the driving force behind the creation of the Birmingham Racial Monitoring Attacks Unit. As chairman, he was responsible for getting retired High Court judge Sir William Macpherson, who produced the most significant report on race relations for a generation in the wake of Stephen Lawrence’s murder in 1993, to visit Birmingham.

Community worker Sandra Golding, from Aston, Birmingham, is also not convinced that race relations have improved since Macpherson. “I believe things have got worse, not better,” said the mother of two, who was in the news earlier this year after her two young daughters were stopped and intimidated by armed police.

“If your face does not fit and if you are not part of a certain clique in society, then you are excluded.”

But 22-year-old Marquell Milford is among those who believes that life has improved for the black community.

Milford, who works in his Birmingham-based family business, says that although racism still exists, dealing with it is all about perspective.

“It’s a question of having the right attitude. I think you have to learn from situations. It can be easy to shift the blame (for racist attitudes) but sometimes the way you handle things can just make situations worse.”

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