Racism takes lives and breeds hate. We grieve for all those who have lost their lives to this form of injustice, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Stephen Lawrence and David Oluwale.
This is not a problem that occurs ‘elsewhere’, or one that has only happened recently. There are centuries of injustices to reflect on here and to begin to reckon with. The mobilisation that has occurred within communities in the UK, and across the globe, highlights the overwhelming message of solidarity against racism and anti-blackness.
Our research and innovation community has expressed with us their anger, grief, frustration and even exhaustion. We share those feelings and recognise the importance of taking a stand against racism and the violent acts of brutality connected to George Floyd’s and others’ deaths.
Yet we also know that racism takes many forms – including far more subtle forms that keep Black people out of the room and silence their voices. There is also the racism that sees people stereotyped because of the colour of their skin or denied a job because of their last names.
We know that to engage deeply in anti-racist work involves more than just writing a statement. It involves the on-going and longer-term commitment of practising justice. We want a world that dedicates itself to this longer-term commitment and to achieving justice in practice.
We have begun work to address our structures, our work environments and the ways that we may be perpetuating problems – in terms of who we represent, who we invite to the table, who we partner with and fund. This is something that we will be focusing our energies on as we do the work that is needed to right the systemic wrongs that racism creates.
Alongside this will be a renewed dedication to listen to, support and continue to champion the many researchers, innovators, organisations and community advocates who have been doing this work for a very, very long time. We are challenging ourselves, and the entire research and innovation sector, to reflect on whether we as individuals, and as a community, are doing enough to eradicate racism.
Everyone deserves opportunity and a future, and that cannot happen in a world in which anti-blackness remains. Black Lives Matter.
On behalf of the UKRI executive team:
- Professor Sir Mark Walport, UKRI Chief Executive
- Professor Andrew Thompson, Executive Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council
- Professor Melanie Welham, Executive Chair of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
- Professor Dame Lynn Gladden, Executive Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
- Professor Jennifer Rubin, Executive Chair of the Economic and Social Research Council
- Dr Ian Campbell, Executive Chair of Innovate UK
- Professor Fiona Watt, Executive Chair of the Medical Research Council
- Professor Sir Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of the Natural Environment Research Council
- David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England
- Professor Mark Thomson, Executive Chair of the Science and Technology Facilities Council
- Emma Lindsell and Isobel Stephen, UKRI Executive Director for Strategy and Governance
- Sue Donaldson, UKRI Chief People Officer
- Mike Blackburn, Interim UKRI Chief Finance Officer.
We have chosen to highlight the lives of four people; two whose deaths occurred this year and have been covered in the media and two whose deaths occurred in 1993 and 1969. To learn more about Stephen Lawrence visit the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre and David Oluwale visit Remember Oluwale.
First published on 9 June 2020.
Last updated: 3 November 2020