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Show Racism the Red Card APPG convenes at the Houses of Parliament

In a poignant gathering at the Houses of Parliament, the Show Racism The Red Card All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) convened to deliberate on the integration of anti-racism into the national curriculum. The event, chaired by Baroness Christine Blower and Chris Stevens SNP Member of Parliament for Glasgow South West, brought together a coalition of voices from various sectors to address the pressing need for inclusive education.

Speakers shared their experiences and insights, shedding light on the pervasive challenges of racism in sports, schools, and wider society. Among them was Luther Burrell, former England rugby league player who recounted his personal experiences with racism during his illustrious career with Northampton Saints and Newcastle Falcons, highlighting the systemic hurdles faced by athletes of colour.

Paul Hill, Regional Manager for the South at Show Racism The Red Card, presented the charity’s report on research into racism in schools. The findings underscored the urgency of confronting discriminatory policy’s and practices within educational institutions and emphasized the role of curriculum in fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion within our education systems.

Citizens UK, the nation’s largest diverse people powered alliance, delivered a compelling presentation featuring young advocates from five schools from across the UK. These impassioned students articulated the necessity of anti-racism education, drawing from their own experiences and advocating for systemic change. Their testimonies resonated deeply with attendees, including Baroness Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen Lawrence, who emphasised the importance of amplifying youth voices in shaping policy.

Ged Grebby, CEO for Show Racism The Red Card, concluded the event with a call to action, outlining the organisation’s campaign priorities. Central to their agenda is the integration of anti-racism into the national curriculum, alongside initiatives like the annual “Wear Red Day” and the current collaboration with Migrant Voice aimed at raising awareness and solidarity.

The event also saw the presence of notable patrons of the charity, including Charlton Athletic Assistant Head Coach Curtis Fleming, former Arsenal legends Paul Davis and Perry Groves, and Terry Angus from the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA). Their endorsement underscored the broad-based support for initiatives combatting racism in all its forms.

MPs in attendance, including Catherine McKinnell Labour MP for Newcastle North and Shadow Minister for Schools, Kim Johnson MP for Liverpool South, Bell Ribeiro-Addy Labour MP for Streatham, and Rachel Hopkins Labour MP for Luton South, voiced their commitment to advancing anti-racism efforts within the national curriculum.

One attendee of particular note, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, who’s impassioned plea for Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer to heed the voices of the next generation and prioritise anti-racism in political discourse.

An inspirational part of the event included powerful testimonies from students, whose powerful reflections underscored the urgency of positive change:

Joyce from St Thomas Moore School: “Experiences of racism and lack of representation have had a negative impact on us, and we want change, not just for us in the present, but for our future generations too.”

Rayan from Nottingham Girls Academy: “Did you know that Black students are three times more likely to be suspended or excluded than White Students? Additionally, Latin and Latinx students have less access to advanced courses and further education leading to higher dropout rates. This inequality perpetuates cycles of poverty and social unrest. We must recognise education as a pillar of justice and equity and ensure equal opportunities for all students.”

Shelemiah of Winstanley School: “We’ve personally seen the impact of racial literacy on our school culture, working closely with the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre. Teachers received expert training and we’ve seen a real shift in our students’ sense of belonging and community.”

Samaira of The Advocacy Academy: “My class was multi-ethnic; most were children of immigrants. During a discussion about migration, a student argued that immigrants are criminals that cause problems for themselves and the state. The teacher didn’t challenge the student and allowed the student to expand on a prejudiced view. To hear this made me feel unimportant and powerless as there was no one to intervene. This would have not been possible had an appropriate safeguarding measure been put in place to ensure classroom debates are held in ways that are sensitive to different races and cultural experiences.”

In his reflection on the event, Arsenal legend Paul Davis lauded the afternoon as “the most inspirational” in his extensive tenure with the organisation:

“Congratulations and well done to all involved with the afternoon. In all my 25+ years with the organisation this afternoon was perhaps the most inspirational! Luther was outstanding and all the girls were articulate, passionate & knowledgeable. Change is coming! Keep pushing.”

As the echoes of the event reverberate through the Houses of Parliament, it serves as a poignant reminder of the collective responsibility to combat racism and discrimination in all its forms. With the momentum garnered from this event gathering, advocates are poised to propel anti-racism efforts to new heights, ensuring that the principles of equality and justice permeate every facet of society.

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