We are all born equal.
Society tells us that we are not,
But that’s because
The people at the top forgot.
They say that we are different,
Then tell us that it is
These very differences
That we must circumvent,
And then prevent.
Prevent opening our minds by just a smidgeon?
Prevent the celebration of a multitude of cultures?
Each one a glorious addition
To this city that we call home.
Who are we?
We are Arabs, Africans, Bangladeshis, Indians, Pakistanis, and British.
But we are also Mancunians.
We walk down Market Street on Saturday afternoons,
Avoiding buskers, clowns and over-priced balloons.
We are black and brown and white.
But we are also red or blue.
Our city has been torn apart by riots and bombs;
We have been victims of social attack
But we always fought back.
And do you know why?
Because we are a city of radicals.
But isn’t being a radical…
It’s what drives society on.
Without Mancunian radicals, we would not have had the computer,
X-rays or the principles of atomic structure
Manchester has 25 scientists who won a Nobel Prize:
Rutherford and Bohr split atoms from lies.
De Hevesy helped tracers take shape.
Geim and Novoselov made Graphene from tape
A Kiwi, A Dane, a Hungarian and two Russians.
These are the intellectual architects amongst our ranks
None of them are ‘British’, all of them are Mancs.
But these are just academics
In glass houses;
So what about the other
Mancunians who want to throw stones?
What about Emmeline Pankhurst?
She radically campaigned to give women the vote,
Shaking society and more than rocking the boat;
Creating a new dawn from which to take heart,
But let’s not pretend this was more than a start.
What about Ahmed Iqbal Ullah, Chris Ofili, DJ Semtex?
What about you?
Is it wrong to be a radical?
Let me rephrase that:
Is it wrong to sit idly by and let atrocities be committed in your name?
Homelessness, racism, social exclusion
These are the extremes for which we’re all to blame.
Pay attention to the plural and
Connect with communities.
But most importantly of all
Champion who you are.
Champion who we are.
We are all radicals,
We ARE all equals.
And we should all give thanks
Because no matter what –
All of us are Mancs.
Following the atrocities that were committed in Manchester on Monday 22nd May 2017, it is important to not be divided by this cowardly act. Thoughts and prayers and love are with everyone that was affected by the attack at the Manchester Arena, and now more than ever we need to stand together as one city and one people and celebrate the diverse nature of this magical city and the beautiful people that inhabit it.
Manchester City Council welcomes any feedback on how as a city we continue to strengthen community cohesion across all our communities over the coming weeks, and would be grateful people could make contact with them by emailing Shazia Awan (firstname.lastname@example.org) in order to share ideas, plans and events. You can also find out more about the RadEqual project here.
Peace and Love.
An audio version of this poem can be heard here.