27 Years after Stephen Lawrence’s death, has institutionalised racism reduced in the UK?

Two steps forward another four back? What progress has really been made for black people In the UK, since the infamous death of Stephen Lawrence. Are we any closer to ‘equality’ ? 

By Odi Uzoigwe  

As you guys are probably aware of, October is black history month in the UK. This article post is important is going to look into, institutional racism in the UK since the tragic death of Stephen Lawrence. A moment that changed British history forever. 

Stephen Lawrence is a name that, holds a lot of meaning to black people in the UK. Twenty-seven years ago, he was murdered by a group a white boys for no other reason, other than race. The incident occurred in South London, at a bus stop. The cultural and judicial impact of his death, is widely recognised. In order to really understand this topic, we must first define institutional racism. Macpherson’s defined institutionalised racism as ‘the collective failure of an organisation to provide, an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin’. He was the lead judge, on Stephen Lawrence case and found that there was gross misconduct from, the police force due to racist attitudes. The fact that his murders got charged in 2012, when this happened in 1993 can account for that.  


The final report caused, reforms in the police force. In order to reduce and exile institutional racism. But what does that mean in practice? It means that there should be no prejudice, or discrimination taken in institutions due to someone’s colour. It is important to identify that this type of racism, is not always as violent as the Stephen Lawrence case.  

Let’s take a look at the school institution, to see if there is less prejudice there. If we look back to our times in secondary school, when teachers would be scolding the black boys more in class. Either for being too ‘loud’ or ‘disruptive’. Well when we were younger, we may not have known it but, this is called labelling. It is often used against, black students and can have significant effects on them. In the sociological field, this has been discussed for the last twenty years. The discourse argues that, due to these labels, black students might self-endorse (self-fulfilling prophecy) them. This leads them to, not perform as well as their white counterparts.  Additionally, this can be supported if we look at, the official statics on it. In 2018, the % of black students achieving the standard five or more, A*-C in GCSE was 38% and for white students it was 42%. Now of course, the sole reason is not due to labelling. Nevertheless, we can not deny the continuous difference in achievement.  

So, have we really moved towards a more ‘equal society? In short no, but one thing that we can take from 2020; is the well spread awareness it has brought to discrimination that black people face. The black lives matter movement, was sparked again from the wrongful killings of Goerge Floyd and Breonna Taylor in America. It caused a global outrage, and sparked a lot of necessary conversation about, what can be done to narrow inequalities between black and white people. Institutionalised racism is embedded in societies structures, it can only even begin to be dismantled, from the very branch root. However, movements like #blacklivesmatter not only help spread awareness, but also create initiatives and schemes to lessen inequality.  

I will be back with a new blog post, sooner than you think. See you later and share this article if you can, follow our instagram @theowordblog for more content. Bye xx #theowordblog

Published by odi101

I blog about, fashion, social issues and lifestyle. Based in London.

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