My address to #Lewisham’s #HMD2017, @HolocaustUK

Retard.

Gypo .

Gay.

Bitch.

Jew.

…Words. 

We tell kids, ‘Sticks and stones may break our bones, but names will never hurt you‘. 

Sorry mum, Sorry dad — you were wrong, in fact this couldn’t be further from the truth. Words have power. They do hurt. 

They may not leave physical marks; but can leave scars much, much deeper. Their effects — are pernicious, with the ability to affect not just the one individual they’re aimed at, but they also have the power to polarise, 

objectify

 deny our differences 

… and even humanity.

We say things, in the playground, 

online, 

down the pub.

Thoughtless little comments,

– condemnations.

‘… it’s just banter though, innit’.

We need to be mindful, because what we choose to say and do, not only has power in that moment, but leaves a fingerprint on society, that adds — or diminishes. Words, are how we communicate and develop ideals as both individuals, and society.

The taking of power from one person, or people – all too often starts with words… then rapidly escalates: 

a shove, a push, a punch… 

a beating…

a murder…

a war….

genocide?

When we start, or let oppressive words and phrases slip unchecked and unchallenged in to the mainstream, it’s a first step – “chav”, “nasty little woman”, “extremist” — down a dark path.

“Locker room banter”, as one man recently called it, might seemingly get you ahead, but comes from pushing down on those around you, creating a culture of oppression and tyranny. But know this —

Donald,

its unsustainable. Good people exist everywhere, and we are the majority:

– good people when they realise what is going on, stand up for those who are being down trodden, and oppressed, 

– good people, and great leaders, don’t seek to oppress, they seek to raise others up, to enthuse, to inspire, to bring people together so we can collectively come up with solutions to humanities challenges.

We all have choices, we all have power. We can use our words, our actions, our power, to build a better world:

— a world where all its people can live side by side, ‘celebrating difference’

— a world where we commemorate lives lost in the atrocities of genocides, not by being passive observers in fine surroundings, 

but by honouring that memory, That loss, Through defending the good, by learning from the past, and by ensuring whenever we see oppression, we challenge it, and speak out.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Delivery may vary from text



 


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Fighting racism, xenophobia and bigotry: that’s a “Peace of Cake”…

All faiths mosaic built by Lewishams Community

All faiths mosaic built by Lewishams Community


This morning I had the pleasure of sharing a good old cuppa and a piece of cake at a pan-community peace event in Catford. 


Like most brilliant ideas the concept is simple – get our communities together to bust myths and stereotypes, and build a proper community, all through the medium of shared experiences and cake!

PEACE OF CAKE EVENT – Goldsmiths Community Centre

As a born’n’bred Lewisham lad, I’ve grown up in and around diversity my whole life – I believe I’ve become a richer person from it, and I know Lewisham has too. From those vital migrant workers that keep our NHS and Lewisham Hospital going, to the work of our faith communities: Masjids and Synagogues; Churches and Meeting Houses, that have provided our young with youth groups to play in, community actions to improve our ‘health and wellbeing’, and worked tirelessly to build a united and tolerant community for us to live in. We are also blessed with scores of excellent community groups that ensure those of us either: smaller in number; or less likely to have a say, have an equal voice at the table – Lewisham’s Disability Coalition, Lewisham’s LGBT+ group, Association for Refugees in Lewisham (AfRIL), and Lewisham’s Pensioners Forum, to name but a few from a near endless list.

For those of you that know me in the slightest, you’ll know I’ve always had a strong sense of justice, and fighting inequality is something I’ve been passionate about for most of my life. I’ve never liked bullies, I certainly am not going to allow them to divide our community. The best way for us to beat these ‘bullies’ is to stand united, and don’t let complacency aide them – we are the majority.

Get involved:

Adversity brings the best out in our community time and time again and there’s loads of ways that you can show your support of a multicultural diverse community:

Talk about it: let people know that we’re better for it, the strange irony of the rise in intolerance is that’s it’s coming from those communities where diversity is often lacking. Communities like Lewisham’s that have been multicultural for decades, seen a high libel of migrants join our communities aren’t so much bothered by it, because we’ve been exposed, our presumptions confounded and crucially we’ve all lived and benefitted from it. From the fun and spectacle of things like Nottinghill Carnival to the everyday: our children being best friends, our colleagues at work coming from diverse 

Sign the Pledge: I’m proud to have got Lewisham Council to talk and do something around the rise of racism, xenophobia and bigotry, you can add your voice too. Click here to sign the pledge.

Get involved: with Hope not Hate’s More in Common campaign in Lewisham. The country was rocked and saddened by the assassination of Jo Cox MP, no more so than her Labour Party colleagues, but out of adversity comes hope, and as part of Jo’s Legacy Hope not Hate are delivering a local task forces to deliver community action activities. You can get involved in Lewisham’s here.

Host a ‘Peace of Cake’ event of your own!

The “Peace of Cake” team are keen for more community coffee mornings to be organised, so much so they’ll be producing a “How to” guide shortly on how to get a good community conversation going. To find out more visit here.

Sign up to say no to xenophobia racism and bigotry…

Lewisham Labour just reasserted our commitment to fighting xenophobia, racism and bigotry, and set up a way you can join too!

Sign @LewishamCouncil’s statement against hate crime here 

"This is a government that on immigration combines callousness and incompetence"

“This is a government that on immigration combines callousness and incompetence” say @UKLabour leader Ed Miliband

“This is a government that on immigration combines callousness and incompetence. They don’t show basic humanity and say rescuing drowning people is a “pull factor” for immigration.

But they’re so incompetent that they can’t deliver on their basic promises. The number of asylum applicants awaiting a decision has risen by 70 per cent in the last year, they’ve wasted £1 billion on a failed IT project, and they’ve lost track of 50,000 people.”

Ed Miliband, Labour Party Leader