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History and Politics students recently attended the Free and Equal? Human Rights Conference which involved many educational and motivational speakers from a variety of ethnic minority groups. Students Annie and Phoebe provide a review of the event.

“The speakers’ passion and drive allowed them to express their frustration towards racism in society, not only in the UK but across the globe, and share the improvements they had seen. Their inspirational lectures and moving stories allowed me personally to understand how our society imbeds unconscious biases and systematic racism into our daily lives. Not only this, but their argument about indulging in anti-racism made all the listeners feel that change starts with themselves, and that you don’t have to be part of an ethnic minority group to make a big difference. Impactful, emotional, and educational is the least I could say to describe a day that has transformed mindsets. I believe that more people need to be properly educated on inequality, and that there needs to be more awareness of diversity.”

Account by Annie, Year 11

“One of the highlights of the day was listening to author, activist and speaker, Lee Lawrence. Lee shared his story with all of us which was extremely emotional and heartfelt. As well as this, we listened to him discuss restorative justice. I learned a lot about what restorative justice is and how it has helped so many to move forward from injustice and be able to recover as best as they can.

“Lee’s personal story was particularly moving. In 1985, when Lee was just 11 years old, he witnessed police raid his home in Brixton and shoot his mother in front of him. He shone a light on unconscious bias and racism which led to his mother being shot in their home.

“Years later, Lee campaigned tirelessly along with his siblings to seek some form of apology from the police for their failings which led to his mother being paralysed for the rest of her life. After many years and hard work, he and his siblings received a formal apology from the Metropolitan Police. He described how at a restorative justice meeting, one of the police officers said that they would “hate” for this to have happened to their mother. Lee said that this rather simple comment finally made him feel like there was a human response to what his family had been put through.

“Moreover, Lee also reminded us about how he was going to educate his own children about the racism they had encountered. He was only a child himself when he witnessed such horrific actions from the police and wanted his children to be aware of the truth and the reality of being black in the UK.

“Though some may say that there has been large improvement in unconscious bias shown by the police, there is still work to be done here in the UK and around the world to eradicate the racism that so many suffer every single day.”

Account by Phoebe in Year 12

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