Anya Cook introduces Newcastle Unites, celebrating diversity and equality
ON Saturday July 6 Newcastle Unites will be celebrating unity in our community at our second annual Unity Carnival.
The event starts with a walk from the multicultural West End of Newcastle and ends in costume, music, dance, theatre and poetry at Grey’s Monument, renowned symbol of peace and freedom in our city, in a spirit of celebration, solidarity and unity.
Our anti-racist coalition stands for the people of Newcastle. We believe in equality, we value diversity, we see the beauty in difference and we wholeheartedly celebrate the richness of our community.
The apposite theme of this year’s carnival, “I Have A Dream,” is inspired by Martin Luther King, who in 1967 received an honorary degree in Civil Law from Newcastle University.
Hosted by local musician Bethany Elen Coyle with teacher Ron Brown, the folk duo who perform as The Worky Tickets will introduce a variety of musicians, performers and speakers from the local community.
Results from recent local mayoral and European elections have seen huge votes for Ukip and the Brexit Party — political parties with agendas that create distrust, division and seek to scapegoat migrants.
What those election results tell us is that we have work to do here to build a community for the whole community.
The role of trade unions in community building is crucial. The values we want to see in our Newcastle community we want to see reflected in our schools, in our colleges, in our universities and in our workplaces, for they are communities too.
Our trade unions teach these values and our trade unions deliver these values whilst working to ensure workplaces have policies and processes in place to protect workers from harassment, discrimination and bullying.
Our trade unions educate, promote and deliver those key values of equality, of dignity, of respect in the workplace, in education and in the community.
And our trade unions continue to campaign for better jobs that pay a living wage, enabling people to live better lives. And people living better lives do not need an agenda of blame. Better jobs. Better pay. Better lives.
Current research from researcher professor Peter Hopkins and his team at Newcastle University into understanding Islamophobia has found the second biggest cause of Islamophobic incidents in the UK is, unsurprisingly, the rise of the far right.
However they have proven the biggest cause to be British policy and legislation and this includes the Prevent strategy and the no platforming of speakers.
So what we are being told is that the strategies we need to make our country safer are proving to be the biggest cause of disharmony within our communities.
Although this research is into specifically anti-Muslim incidents it must be understood that an assault against one minority community is an assault against all.
Disharmony for one section of our community is disharmony for us all.
We need to pull our community together and this starts with us, working within our communities and this starts with a groundswell.
Newcastle Unites counters 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 retell stories of positive engagement and change and our actions evidence our intentions.
Narratives. Action. Our two-pronged attack to create change for the better.
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.
What we have learned this year is that attacks on minority communities, whether in our city or across the globe, are counterintuitive.
Our instinctive reaction is to reach out to our friends, to our neighbours and give support and care. We will not be divided by agendas of hate.
Martin Luther King had a dream that one day his children could live in a society without being judged by the colour of their skin but by who they are as individuals – as people. Our unity carnival is a reification of that dream.
Anya Cook sits on the UCU national executive.
You can read the article online here: https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/i-have-dream-newcastles-anti-racist-carnival