I have just finished reading ‘The Hate U Give’ by Angie Thomas, a thought provoking novel about a black teenage girl called Starr who witnesses Khalil, a close friend, get shot by a policeman, whilst he is driving back from a party which ended in gunshots. The book follows the life of Starr and her family as she lives and copes with the matter, too scared to speak out but wanting to restore justice to her innocent friend. She must fight an internal battle whilst seeking justice for Khalil, a suspected drug dealer who was trying to protect his mother at risk of death from a powerful gang. With the majority taking the side of the policeman, Starr must pluck up the courage and fight for what she believes in #BlackLivesMatter.

The Hate U Give saddens me and makes me question why certain people are treated so badly because of the colour of their skin, when we are all human beings whose lives should have equal value. Racial inequality, like gender and sexual inequality, is an issue that continues to affect and influence society and one that I feel strongly about. In Bromley, where I live, according to the 2011 Census, 66% of people of working age are in work, there is only 2.3% unemployment, and 77.4% of the resident popular give their ethnic origin as White British. As a white teenage girl living in a largely white, affluent area, I have not witnessed racial inequality first hand but I am aware of instances of racial injustice through news reports, social media, YA fiction and film, and the need to challenge it at every turn.

This year marks 25 years since the death of Stephen Lawrence, the black teenager who was murdered in a racial motivated attack. His parents campaigned tirelessly to bring his attackers to justice and challenge the institutional racism that existed within the Met Police at that time. A recent BBC documentary on Stephen gave a heart-breaking account, with personal accounts from his family, friends, the police and Prime Minister. This case showed me that importance of speaking up for what is right and continue doing so. Despite the lessons learned from the Stephen Lawrence case, we still have instances of racial injustices, most recently the Windrush scandal.

On a positive note, cases of the police shooting unarmed black minority ethnic citizens are far fewer here than in the US. This is because, unlike the US, UK police are largely unarmed, with small armed response units trained to use guns. According to BBC Newsbeat, in 2016 Black Lives Matter demonstration organiser Natasha Nkonde explained why it is important to highlight this issue. Among the points raised are that black people are 37 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police and since Brexit, there has been over a 50% increase in racist hate crimes in Britain. Many young people did not vote for Brexit and value the benefits that racial integration brings. The inspirational African writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said “the only reason race matters is because of racism”. My hope, with every new generation, is that racism will cease to exist and race will no longer matter.