Anya Cook UCU National Executive
Speaking today for Newcastle Unites
I would like to start with a lyric from Akala – he’s a rapper, poet, author, political activist:
“Racism, sexism and nationality
Just to me it all seems like insanity
Why must I rob you of your humanity
To feel good about mine?”
Why must I rob you of your humanity to feel good about mine?
The answer is that someone who takes pleasure in traducing, in reducing, in diminishing others doesn’t really feel good about themselves. They might get a temporary kick but ….
Confident, secure, content people are just that. They are confident, they are secure and they are content with and in themselves. And therefore they have no need to take pleasure in oppressing other people.
And the stories they tell themselves and tell each other’s to justify their actions are just that, stories.
And stories are narratives.
So, if you like your rap a bit more 1980s hip hop, a bit more Salt ‘n’ Pepa …
“Let’s talk ‘narratives’ baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be”
Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things.
Good things – the more in common – that’s the easy bit.
All the bad things – racism, sexism, fascism, discrimination – that’s not so easy.
Sometimes it’s easier to avoid challenge, to avoid difficult conversations – but we must challenge.
If we ignore, if we avoid challenge, if we avoid difficult conversations then as Maya Angelou warned, we risk ending up with people who have no opinion.
People without opinion don’t make change happen
If we don’t talk about the bad things and the good things, we will never shift parameters of understanding.
So. Newcastle Unites. What unites us is a stand against all forms of discrimination.
Newcastle Unites believes that a community that plays together, stays together.
We stand for the people of Newcastle be they of faith or of no faith, be they of left or of right, be they of binary or non-binary and in Newcastle especially, there is no Black OR White – there is only Black AND White all the way!
Newcastle Unites counters narratives.
We counter the narratives of fascism, of racism, of the far right,
And then we write our own narratives. We write our own stories of shared humanity, of giving kindness, in helping our neighbours.
We are telling stories of positive engagement and change and our actions evidence our intentions.
Narratives. Action. Our 2-pronged attack to create change for the better.
So. If we are going to shift parameters of understanding we need to make changes and those changes start with each and every one of us.
The first change is the acceptance of making a change.
And with learning to be confident, to be secure, to be content with ourselves.
As Akala said:
“The only way we can ever change anything
Is to look in the mirror and find no enemy
The only way we can ever change anything
Look in the mirror and find no enemy“
Video of speech on link below: