Writing exclusively for The Birmingham Post, Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, believes Birmingham faces some massive challenges in its transformation into a city without a single dominant community or culture.
The conviction of those found guilty of the murder of Isaiah Young-Sam, tragically killed during the disturbances here in Birmingham last October, together with the publication of Ted Cantle's report into Oldham five years on from the disturbances, have re-ignited intense debate about the prospect of further tension on our streets.
Just like Oldham in 2001, last October Birmingham found itself under the spotlight. Not to celebrate the diversity of this great city but to question how people who were essentially neighbours could turn on each other with such fury and vigour.
By strange coincidence, 30 years ago, Birmingham was the site of the Commission for Racial Equality's very first non-discrimination notice, issued to a restaurateur who would only serve white people.
It is tempting to say how far we've come, to give ourselves a good pat on the back and glance around our neighbourhoods pointing out how we are living side by side, or in the case of Lozells, just across the road.
And that's the problem. Here in Birmingham, in Oldham, in Wrexham, in Barking, in Dagenham and around the country, living side by side does not mean living together. It means not knowing or trusting our neighbours or understanding each other's ways. It means a rumour can spark a riot.
The dissection of the Lozells disturbances continues, and I am not going to dwell on who is to blame, but there is an important lesson to learn from our friends in the north.
Oldham has faced up to its community tensions. The council has tackled the issues head on. No, it's not perfect, yes, there are still barriers to break down, but at least they've started.
The CRE was criticized after the disturbances here in Birmingham, we weren't, apparently, doing enough. But just because we weren't shouting about our involvement from the roof tops doesn't mean we weren't playing a part.
Together with our race equality and community partners on the ground, we brought people round the table. Some had never even spoken to each other before, so at least they had the opportunity to tell each other why they didn't get along.
We don't expect everybody to like each other, we just want people to be aware of the facts.
The landscape in Britain is changing. Immigration is a major part of the 21st century. As some here in Birmingham have acknowledged a number of our cities are rapidly becoming places which do not have a single dominant cultural and ethnic majority and this is a new idea for us in Britain.
We have a real opportunity now to manage the effects of this change and turn it into something positive. But it will be a challenge. We need to think seriously about how we all get along, how we can all live together - and how we can turn change into a continuous benefit rather than a source of chronic anxiety.
In Lozells, as in Oldham, there is a mixture of poverty and feelings of powerlessness, where persistent inequalities make people feel unequal and apathetic about getting involved. We need to reverse this trend so that people have proper access to services and in turn feel that they have a voice.
On top of this we need to bring people together in the course of their everyday lives: as parents on the sidelines of their children's football match; or as a member of a local cookery club, or theatre group.
To assist this we need to build on and sustain solid local partnerships. These must involve the church, schools, local authorities, community groups and the media.
This was the path Oldham chose - a strong and sustained campaign that brought partners together. Schools, churches and local businesses all sharing the same message - that Oldham is a good place to live and work in; that it will not be divided by half truths or the right wing politics of the BNP.
This needs to be replicated across Britain with leadership from local councils if we're to avoid the events that happened there or here in Lozells. Inaction is not an option. We have to seize the opportunity to manage the differences in our increasingly diverse communities.
This means joining forces before the rumours ignite more bitter conflict. This will take time. There won't be a single big bang of integration, more a thousand small candles lit daily by individuals, families and neighbourhoods meeting, talking and working to bring our communities together.
Each of us has it in our own hands to make things better. We should not let the chance slip through our fingers.