This was a watershed moment in Britain’s history because, through the subsequent Public Inquiry, the concept of institutional racism entered our public dialogue.
Following Stephen’s murder, his family and other activists for racial justice have and continue to campaign for anti-racism and equality. They have played a pivotal role in changing the law, practices and attitudes around institutional racism in the UK.
Fittingly, Stephen Lawrence Day is about highlighting how we can all participate in creating a society in which there is no place for racism and everyone can flourish. The importance of this cannot be understated, as the international Movement for Black Lives protests of 2020, a public and collective response to a series of recent anti-Black racist murders including that of George Floyd, have shown.
Honouring Stephen Lawrence Day is a chance to be part of a national conversation and show your commitment to creating a fairer society. Globally, there is much left to be done to eradicate racism from our institutions. We can all make changes and do simple things that will together make a huge difference. Some ideas include: lighting a candle to Stephen, fundraising for an anti-racist cause or organisation, or getting involved with anti-racist activities at the University through the LSU Welfare and Diversity Section and/or BAME Staff Network, which works closely with BAME students. The Stephen Lawrence Day website has more information on how you can support the day.
Stephen Lawrence Day also provides an opportunity to reflect on our community here at Loughborough. As many colleagues and students across campus will be aware, in 2018 the University became a member of the Race Equality Charter (REC). The University has made the choice, through engagement with the Charter, to take a committedly anti-racist position.
There is much work to be done to ensure that more students and staff, at all grades and across job families, recognise the realities of institutional racism in wider society and here at Loughborough, and join efforts to eradicate it.
This work will require us, as an institution and as individuals, to take time to educate ourselves and each other to understand how racism manifests in structures, systems, and individual acts. We would encourage you to read, reflect on and discuss the Guiding Principles for Race Equality work developed by members of the BAME Staff Network.
Change will take time, but the University is committed to anti-racism, advancing race equality, and leading a change in culture and practices.