Jazz Shaper: Lavinya Stennett

Posted on 11 September 2021

Lavinya is a writer, activist, and Founder and CEO of The Black Curriculum.

Graduating with a first class degree from SOAS University of London in 2019, she has most recently authored a paper exploring Maroon ecology in Jamaica and Brazil. 

The Black Curriculum is a social enterprise founded in 2019, working to teach and support the teaching of Black history all year round, aiming to empower all students with a sense of identity and belonging. The vision to create The Black Curriculum came from first-hand experiences in British formal education, where Lavinya witnessed the effects of systemic disenfranchisement through the exclusion of Black pupils and Black British history. 

Lavinya was recently named as one of the Sunday Times 50 Women of the Year and was awarded Trailblazer of The Year by Hello Magazine, as well as featuring in Vogue, and GQ for her activism. She believes in the power of education, and the arts to ultimately transform the lives of people. 

Highlights

The Black Curriculum is a social enterprise at its heart, dedicated to making sure that all students across the UK are empowered with a sense of identity and belonging. 

Education is a fundamental human right and every young person deserves an accessible education that is accurate, reflective of them and their experiences and actually shapes them for the future.  

There’s the saying birds of a feather flock together – if you’re around a community that isn’t uplifting you and empowering you, you’re not really going to have much of an insight or understanding as to what is possible. 

In the age of social media, there is definitely much more awareness and a need to do something to change the kind of society that we are living in. 

In the early days of The Black Curriculum when we were just trying to understand the issue, it was not only young people but also older people who were saying and their experiences were parallel. 

In the early days there was just an underlying fire between a very small group of freelancers and myself as to making sure that this would work. 

Getting the partners and working with them as well has been something that has helped me to open my mind as to how to work and engage with different parts of society. 

If I’m doing something wrong, I want to know from you and I make sure that there’s the forums and I have the right kind of communication style to get that feedback. 

I know that The Black Curriculum’s goals will be realised and I think that can only continue and happen and be sustained through people who have the right intentions which ultimately is about young people. 

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