East Anglia:
01245 280 880
London:
020 7520 6000
Black Lives Matter

From Stephen Lawrence to George Floyd

14. Sep 2020

By Michelle Nelson QC.

On 31 July 1997, the then Home Secretary Jack Straw, ordered a public inquiry ‘Into The Matters Arising From the Death of Stephen Lawrence’, who was murdered in 1993.  The 350-page MacPherson report concluded that the investigation into his death had been “marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership”. It made seventy recommendations designed to show “zero tolerance” to racism and aimed at transforming attitudes towards race relations and improving accountability within the police force. The recommendations were also aimed at other agencies, the civil service, NHS, and judiciary, asking them to respond to change.

The  global demonstrations, conversations and debate about the over and often heavy handed policing of Black and ethnic minorities in the wake of George Floyd’s death in May this year exposed the fact that their unequal treatment, the mark of systemic racism, has still to be contended with. It demonstrates that in over 20 years, institutionally at least, there has been little real change.

There is an inaccurate and troubling assumption that inequality and racism is not as significant a problem here in the UK as it is in the US. The effect of inequality, perpetrated consciously or unconsciously, is the same. The significant overrepresentation of Black and ethnic minorities and ‘other marginalised groups in the criminal justice system and the harsher sentences imposed[1]; their disproportionate representation in deaths in police custody[2]; and their underrepresentation as a result of  bias and discrimination in the work force[3] is not explained by their having a sense of being victims. So many of the contributions of Black and ethnic minorities have gone unwritten, unremarked upon and unrewarded.

A persistent consequence of being ‘other’, is played out in the casually offensive remark, the negative stereotyping, the full-scale onslaught of abuse, the bullying or harassment and at times, violence.  Never knowing when or how this will materialise or from where it will come - a friend, a colleague, a neighbour or an organ of the state.  What is certain is that it will come and quite possibly in all those ways and from all those sources. So the lives of Black and ethnic minorities are shaped. The cost of continued inequality is the destruction of hopes, dreams and ambitions; but also in the wasting of talent- an unmeasured cost to society[4].

We can no longer afford to educate young people on how “best” to build a life in an unequal society. There is again an opportunity to build a better legacy for future generations and to get it right. By pledging to be part of SHIFT25, you pledge to contribute to this fundamental shift by 2025 and to a future where there is really is equality of opportunity.

Join SHIFT25 and be part of the change.

[1] The Lammy Review. Sept 2017
[2] Report of the Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody. January 2017
[3] The McGregor-Smith Review,  ‘The Time For Talking Is Now Over. Now Is The Time To Act. Race in the Workplace. February 2017.
[4] The potential benefit to the UK economy from full representation of BME individuals across the labour market is estimated to be £24 billion a year. 1.3% OF GDP. The McGregor-Smith Review at p7.

Articles

SHIFT25 hold Webinar entitled "Blacks Don't....."

SHIFT25 hold Webinar entitled “Blacks Don’t…..”

SHIFT25 in collaboration with S&P Global's BOLD EMEA Network present a Webinar entitled "BLACKS DON’T..." on Wednesday, April 14 from 4-5pm. Discussions will explore and explode some of the common stereotypes and assumptions that have come to be associated with Blackness, including the historical origin of these myths and their ...
Read More
Michelle Nelson QC in conversation with UCL

Michelle Nelson QC in conversation with UCL

Michelle Nelson QC will be taking part in a conversation entitled "Shift 25: Constructing a fundamental shift in the UK's ethnicity and equality narrative" as part of UCL'S MAPS (Mathematical and Physical Sciences) Lunch Hour Conversations 2020-2021 on "Tackling racial inequity in higher education and STEM." The event takes place ...
Read More
SHIFT25 hosts first in a series of Transatlantic conversations on race and social justice

SHIFT25 hosts first in a series of Transatlantic conversations on race and social justice

Following the US presidential election, SHIFT25 hosted the first in a series of Transatlantic conversations on race and social justice, from a political, legal, business and cultural prospective. RLC member Michelle Nelson QC and Pierre Davis (Chief Legal Officer at S&P Global Platts) moderated a discussion with MP David Lammy, ...
Read More
Alistair Fell reviews "In Black and White: A Young Barrister's Story of Race and Class in a Broken Justice System"

Alistair Fell reviews “In Black and White: A Young Barrister’s Story of Race and Class in a Broken Justice System”

"The book explores serious issues of racism, sexism and class which continue to blight the legal system." RLC member Alistair Fell reviews Alexandra Wilson's book 'In Black and White: A Young Barrister's Story of Race and Class in a Broken Justice System' awarding it a 5-star review for the Law ...
Read More
Dame Linda Dobbs DBE featured in new book "100 Great Black Britons" and on ITV for Black History Month

Dame Linda Dobbs DBE featured in new book “100 Great Black Britons” and on ITV for Black History Month

Dame Linda Dobbs DBE has been recognised in a new book entitled "100 Great Black Britons" in a celebration of the lives, stories and contribution of Black British people. Patrick Vernon OBE and Dr Angelina Osbourne, founders of the 100 Great Black Britons campaign published the book which has a ...
Read More
From Stephen Lawrence to George Floyd

From Stephen Lawrence to George Floyd

By Michelle Nelson QC. On 31 July 1997, the then Home Secretary Jack Straw, ordered a public inquiry ‘Into The Matters Arising From the Death of Stephen Lawrence’, who was murdered in 1993.  The 350-page MacPherson report concluded that the investigation into his death had been “marred by a combination ...
Read More
Reflections on the Death of George Floyd and What Happens Next

Reflections on the Death of George Floyd and What Happens Next

By Alistair Fell. The killing of George Floyd on 25 May 2020 seemed, initially, to be just another example of the many acts of police brutality inflicted upon African Americans over many years. The fundamental difference this time, however, was the casualness of the act and the fact that it ...
Read More
SHIFT 25 - a campaign for a Better Tomorrow

SHIFT 25 – a campaign for a Better Tomorrow

We come together as a new campaign led by a group of senior and influential Black and BAME professionals and business organisations, drawn together by Red Lion Chambers and ELBA and make this statement of intent in response to the shocking events of 25 May 2020. We have all been ...
Read More
Associated members: