Meet the Race & Education Event Speakers

We are absolutely delighted to announce that our strong and courageous panel of Cumbrian voices will be joined by two of the UKs most highly respected speakers at our special education event for all Cumbrian schools on 22nd October 2020.  Together, our panel’s voices will shine a light on the racism that still exists in our schools here in Cumbria, highlight how our national curriculum is failing our young people and most importantly…what we can do about it together.

Lavinya Stennett – Founder and CEO – Black Curriculum

Lavinya is a historian, writer and First Class graduate from SOAS.

The vision to create The Black Curriculum came from first-hand experiences in British formal education, where she witnessed the effects of systemic disenfranchisement through the exclusion of Black pupils and Black British history. Young people learning general ‘Black history’ in the lone month of October was simply, not good enough. During her study abroad in Aotearoa, she was interested in the way Indigenous and colonial history was a part of the everyday and made accessible to everyone at all ages. She is determined to challenge the Eurocentricity of the school curriculum at a nationwide level. Lavinya believes in the power of education, and the arts to ultimately transform the lives of people

Adam Elliott-Cooper – Research Associate – University of Greenwich

Adam received his PhD from the school of geography and the environment at the University of Oxford in 2016. He has previously worked as a researcher in the department of philosophy at University College London, as a teaching fellow in the department of sociology at the University of Warwick and as a research associate in the department of geography at King’s College London.

Adam’s scholarly interests include postcolonialism, urban theory and social movements. His current research focuses on anti-racism and British policing, both on the British mainland and in Britain’s colonies.

He sits on the board of The Monitoring Group, an anti-racist organisation challenging state racisms and racial violence.

Follow Adam on Twitter: @adamec87

Cumbrian Voices

We will be asking our Cumbrian pupils past and present, black and white to express their school experiences. Their answers sum up why our Race & Education event is so important

  • Jordan Fleary – Belle Vue Infant and Junior School (1990-1997) Trinity Secondary and Sixth Form (1997-2004)
  • Sarah Saunders – St Mary’s Nursery & Infant School (1981-1985) Windermere CofE Junior School (1985 – 1989) The Lakes (1989 – 1994)
  • Meredith Fowler – Beaconside Primary School (1998 – 2006) QEGS Penrith (2006-2013)

The above three adults will speak candidly about their experiences in the Cumbrian education system and how it affected them.  We know it’s important to fully understand what is happening in Cumbria right now so current pupils of Cumbrian schools aged 8 – 18 will also share their experiences. These young people will be part of specially recorded conversations with two former black Cumbrian students. Rachel Fleary and Chimwemwe Chirma recently finished their education here in Cumbria and can all too easily relate to today’s stories as well as their own. The identities of our younger speakers have been protected to keep them safe and prevent further discrimination. Here are just some of the thoughts they have already brought to the table:

In school when things would happen to me, I remember looking to teachers and adults to help. These were the people I was told we were supposed to go to for support, but I never got it, not even empathy.

It hurts me that I can’t wear my hair in braids.

People always want to touch my hair, and they don’t ask me before they do.

Teachers would intentionally mispronounce my name, I didn’t find it funny. 

If a new black or mixed race family moved into the community it was assumed we were related.

I’m tired of being asked ‘where I’m really from?’ – I’m from here.

I worry about my hair a lot especially for gymnastics, dance competitions and shows.

 Being different was always seen as a bad thing, but now although I’ve had difficult experiences I’m so grateful that I am different, I’m grateful for my hair, I’m grateful for my skin, I’m grateful for my heritage and I feel now I’m older I’ve been able to turn some of those negative experiences into positives.

 Anti Racist Cumbria are grateful to all our speakers and contributors. What we start in Cumbria today may be felt elsewhere tomorrow.

And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”
― Audre Lorde