Before I begin, just a quick note: Racism is learned behaviour and racism kills. It is deeply personal because death is the end game. Leading up to death are an identifiable set of behaviours beginning with the seemingly innocuous act of name calling – the taking of a name. My Name Is Why. The reason we get angry about racism is because we know the dots join together. The first dot: denigrate a person because of their race. The last dot is The final solution. It’s that simple. A person fighting racism is fighting for humanity. Can I do my blog now? Good. Let’s begin.
Heartfelt thanks to friends fans and family around the world for your wonderful birthday wishes. I haven’t been able to reply to everyone but I’ve read every message. I am a lucky man to receive such love and kindness from so many. And to celebrate there’s more good news I am delighted to announce that I will be returning as Guest Director at The Brighton Festival in 2021. And besides this there is another birthday
It’s my fifth birthday as chancellor and this (below) is the front cover of the spring 2020 issue of The Association of School and College Leaders magazine, for The Association of Schools and College Leaders conference at the International Conference Centre in Birmingham where I also delivered a speech in March 2020.
Five years as Chancellor bookended by these two magazine covers and two speeches. I was proud to mention University of Manchester’s position on social responsibility which is one of our three core goals.
I am Chancellor. It is a ceremonial role. Everything I do and have done in the five years is by permission of The Presidents Office. If I have done anything good in my tenure it is down to The Presidents Office. If I have made any mistakes they are my responsibility and mine alone. The latter is what it means to be part of a team. I can do more. I can be more. Always. Here is the 2020 vision.
To celebrate the five years I am now Patron of The National Association for the Teaching of English. And talking of ‘English’ I am one of the judges for The University of Manchester micro poetry competition . It’s open to everyone. The deadline is June 20th.
University of Manchester has eleven hospitals and a poem of mine commissioned by The University of Manchester is part of These Are The Hands, a book of poems written by staff in The NHS. These are the Hands includes an intro by Michael Rosen.
Thanks to all the kind people still reading My Name Is Why and to those listening to the Audiobook. I love receiving all your messages. The paperback will be out in July. There’s lots of other stuff I could share not least the booker prize which is the best bookclub in the world. So far I have read one hundred and twenty one books in one hundred and twenty one days starting on Feb 1st. Could I have done it without Lockdown? No.
I can’t follow a single wave in a river yet the river finds its way to the sea.
Now back to what I was saying at the beginning. When all this noise has passed, the marching and fighting, do something. Stop discussing whether or not violence is the answer. You are the answer. Employ more people from other races. Make action. We are in lockdown and people are marching the streets. What do they have to do to tell you how deep this goes? It is not complicated. Do not feel guilt. Make a difference, no matter how small. Do it quietly. Do not expect an immediate ‘thank you’. Give money to organisations which promote equality. Promote equality. Do not evaluate your actions immediately. Kindness doesn’t need an immediate evaluation. When lockdown lifts tell yourself ‘it is a new day’ and the new day begins with you.
In addition to this blog I could not love my university more. Read Black Lives Matter and our university – a message from Professor Nalin Thakar