On 24 June, I was ‘cornered’ in Manchester by a TV news crew who sought to solicit sound-bites from the public with regards to the EU referendum. Like anyone caught unaware, it was difficult to formulate my thoughts into a credible sense, but I managed to mumble that I was very sad for the way in which the referendum had been orchestrated and sad for the failure of the concept of a united Europe, such a concept has such possibilities.
Why am I telling you this?
Last week a car pulled up and a lady asked me if I had appeared on the TV news. I confirmed this to be the case and she asked if we could chat. I shall save her blushes and call her Mrs R, who is a practicing Muslim. Mrs R is a delightful lady and we spend 30 minutes discussing the referendum, where she alluded to her fears concerning the potential rise in racial prejudice owing to the results of the referendum. She explained to me she had been born in the UK, as have her children, and all of them had worked all their adults lives, paying taxes and contributing the country. At this point I interrupted her and said how appalling it was that she felt the need to say these things, how dreadful it was that she felt the need to explain herself and her family. This is an anathema, a completely unacceptable place for Mrs R, or any person, to find themselves.
I have pondered this meeting a great deal: it was both a delight (people taking the time, in the street, to talk with each other) and troubling (people feeling insecure within the community). People who feel they are unwelcome or ‘outsiders’ must be reassured by the rest us this is not the case. With the exception of the small number of bigots who have the affront to undermine all of us, we (whatever faith, nationality, gender and sexuality) are all one community.
I have little faith in our political representatives and suspect it is the community who is best positioned to resolve racism, whatever the guise in which it appears. I am a great believer in the beauty of a cosmopolitan society and I consider Chorlton, Whalley Range, etc, to have a wonderful capacity to achieve this. We all can make a difference and I believe this should start by simple communication: a smile, a ‘good morning’, a shake of the hand, simple things, which, for a moment bring people together. Tis a starting place and I shall greet everyone I meet in such a manner, with respect. If we all do this, recognise and listen to each other, perhaps this community could introduce a truly cosmopolitan community where people feel equal…cos they are!
the place on the chorlton bulletin board for vegetable-spread related chatter and other matters...it's the first, the best and it's currently hack free.
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