22nd April 2018, this year, marked the 25th anniversary of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993. It is widely regarded that the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the subsequent family oriented campaign triggered a sea Change in attitudes over race in the UK.
Sir William Macpherson’s Inquiry examined the circumstances of Stephen’s murder, on April 22 1993, as well as the litany of police failures, and took credit for overhauling Britain’s race relations legislation that created the strongest battery of anti-discrimination powers and policies in Western Europe. In fact, the then Home Secretary, Jack Straw, said that he hoped it would prove “a watershed in attitudes towards racism. I want it to act as a catalyst for permanent and irrevocable change, not just across our public services, but across the whole of society…We must make equality a reality…The pervasive, open racism of the fifties and sixties, the pernicious, sniggering racism of the seventies, eighties and nineties is gone”.
What more worryingly is that since Stephen murder we have seen more racially motivated murders on our streets such as Labour politician Jo Cox and still yet there is no policy to deal with such horrible acts and violence. Official reports continue to show the increases violent and horrendous race hate crimes which continues to remains the highest category reported to the police. Not only does this have impact on the targeted communities it is also divisive as it defeats all work and efforts of engaging in community cohesion.
UNISON will continue to campaign against discrimination and inequality and support affiliated organisations in the fight against hate crimes. Challenging racism in the workplace is part of UNISON’s core work on race equality, using the collective power of our union to
tackle discrimination. We take a collective regional approach by bringing together Black members in the region and strengthening them, through the Southeast Regional Black Member’s committee work. UNISON Southeast Regional Black members committee will continue to support the groups fighting racism and encourage other sections of UNISON to do likewise, including affiliations, where appropriate. We will also be working to plan and mark 22nd April each year, a day in remembrance of Stephen Lawrence.
Contributed by Sandra Charles