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The Stephen Lawrence case and why Black History should be on the curriculum
Last term, Year 10 Citizenship students were studying the murder of Stephen Lawrence and institutional racism. Black History Month presents a timely opportunity to share extracts from the letters students composed to the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, on this issue.
“History repeats itself.” A very common sentence used in lots of aspects of education; a reason our history teacher claims it is important to study and learn about our past. It has been over 20 years since Stephen Lawrence’s murder, one of the very first clear cases of institutional racism, one of the very first cases where the idea of institutional racism was identified.
Stephen Lawrence, as many people might know, was a 18 year old Black male, patiently waiting for a bus with one of his friends, when a group of men approached them while yelling racial slurs, and attacking him with a knife. The police came and not one police officer even bothered to take out the medical kit from the police car, therefore dismissing his life as something that wasn't important. He died, his friend was taken to the police station and questioned, somehow making it seem as if it was his fault, or maybe he did something wrong. In 24 hours the police had enough evidence to make an arrest, but it never happened.
More than 20 years after this happened, after a man's life was taken for no reason, nothing has changed. One of the most obvious examples currently is George Floyd’s arrest; the autopsy showed he had a heart attack while being detained, falling to the ground and asking for help but what happened was that a white male police officer put his knee on his neck, restricting blood to his brain, restricting his oxygen intake. This man lost his life.
History repeats itself.
How would you feel if you could not even go for a jog because you were scared you may not even return back home? How would you feel when you leave for work and you say bye to your mother but in the back of your head you think to yourself that this may be the last time that you're going to be seeing your mother's face? How would you feel when every time you walk out the door you have to keep looking back and making sure that you are safe? How would you feel knowing that if you were murdered your death would be unjust? All of this because of the colour of your skin.
The school curriculum has to be changed, it is imperative. Almost everyday we hear about young black people being attacked, which is disgusting, and children think it’s okay because their parents are the ones who condone this type of behaviour. The older generation are the ones who are glued to their perception of black people being thugs and criminals, which couldn’t be further than the truth. We are not born as racist, we are actually taught racism as we grow older and it is so important that the generation after us are being taught that everyone should be treated equally no matter what colour their skin is or what religion they are or even their sexuality. The colour of one's skin has nothing to do with what’s inside someone's heart and that is what a person should be judged on. As Martin Luther King Jr said, ‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.’ He created this speech in 1963 and we live in 2020. It has been 57 years and nothing has changed.
Please take action as soon as possible, so we can see our young ones grow up loving each other instead of hating. So that history doesn't repeat itself ever again.
N Masuk, S Osman, S Galac, Year 11