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‘Ongoing national conversation’ needed on race in Britain’s past and future

AN “ongoing national conversation” about the role of race in Britain’s past and future was welcomed today by author and social commentator Patrick Vernon. 

Recent events have brought greater public awareness of the conversation about racial inequality, Mr Vernon said.

In the past year, issues ranging from the racialised impact of the coronavirus pandemic in Britain to the murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests in the United States have sparked international outrage and numerous discussions, both online and in politics.

Mr Vernon said: “We’ve been trying to have these conversations for a long time, but this is the first time that the nation got involved.

“We have been carrying this burden of discrimination for a long time and Black Lives Matter gave people permission to articulate their frustrations and anger and experiences over many years and decades.”

Calling for the conversation to continue, Mr Vernon warned that black history is not reflected in the school curriculum, the national media or in popular culture, adding that new ways of celebrating multicultural Britain were needed.

Patrick Roach, general secretary of teaching union NASUWT and chair of the TUC anti-racism taskforce, told the Star that the recent events “highlight the need for concerted action to tackle the persistent and unacceptable impact of racism in our lives.”

He said: “Racism affects all our lives, and it is important that education plays its part in challenging discrimination, prejudice and hatred, whilst also promoting inclusion and diversity. 

“The curriculum in our schools and colleges can no longer be disinterested. 

“Because black lives matter, the curriculum must also actively encourage learners to question the status quo and contribute to advancing equality by promoting BAME voices, experiences and representation.”

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