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'The lives of young black people in London haven't improved'

CRITICISM: Baroness Doreen Lawrence

BARONESS DOREEN Lawrence has criticised the Government’s lack of commitment to black youth living in London.

In an article, published in a Labour Party booklet, the 61-year-old said young black people living in capital are still more likely to be unemployed, excluded from education and hassled by the police.

The mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence warned that the lives of black Britons have not improved since her son’s death 20 years ago - despite her tireless campaigning for racial equality.

“The lives of young black people in London haven’t changed a great deal," she said. "They are still more likely to be marginalised from society, to be stopped and searched, to be excluded from education, to earn less and to be unemployed than their white counterparts.”


KILLED: Stephen Lawrence

Our London: The Capital after 2015 also features comments from American-British playwright and novelist, Bonnie Greer and former Metropolitan Police superintendent, Leroy Logan.

On the subject of education, Lawrence said: “Day after day, I see firsthand how our education system is failing black Londoners. We urgently need to reform our schooling system so that it motivates young black children to achieve, builds their confidence and teaches a curriculum designed to reflect all individuals in the classroom.”

She continued: “[Education secretary] Michael Gove’s renewed focus on the mediaeval Kings and Queens of England has done nothing to make the curriculum more relevant to the lives of young black children in Hackney or Brixton.”

Lawrence also said that there should be more to be done to celebrate success of black children in school.

“When black children get good GCSE or A-Level results, or make it to Oxford or Cambridge, we need to be shouting about it from the rooftops so that the next generation know what it’s possible for people like them to achieve and aspire to do the same.”

Lawrence's 18-year-old son Stephen was killed in a racist attacked in 1993, and although the Metropolitan Police were found guilty of institutional racism, Lawrence says she believes there are still major problems within the policing and criminal justice system.

She said: “Stop and search is still a huge problem for black Londoners, who are too often stopped purely because of the colour of their skin.”


UNDER FIRE: Education Secretary Michael Gove

Lawrence, who was awarded the OBE for services to community relations in 2003 and made a life peer this summer, said in the short time that she has sat in the House of Lords, it has been "abundantly clear that black and ethnic minority communities are still not properly represented in either Houses of Parliament."

She went on to note she is often the only non-white person in the Chamber and that there should be more black role models in leadership positions.

She concluded the article by pledging her support in the "battle to improve the life chances of young black people in London"

“We have a long way to go in the battle to improve the life chances of young black people in London. If we are to make more progress over decades ahead we need more real engagement by the political class with young black children – their lives, motivations and interests.

“We need to show them that it is possible for them to change things and make a difference, if they work hard and focus. We need to show them that people from their background can and do go on to do anything they want to. We need to give them hope.”

She added: “Race is still very much a dividing line for life chances in this city, one we must do away with in the decade ahead.”

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