Challenging discrimination bottom-up: A blog by James

Trigger alert. The following thought dump may engender feelings of irritation, outright annoyance, amusement or indeed indifference depending on your world view and perspective. Because of that, and in the interest of full transparency, I’m stating up front and for the record that mine is that of a supremely entitled, semi-well-educated, grumpy, straight Yorkshireman slightly past his physical best. 


With that said, I’m wondering now who you are? How is the above landing with you? How it must be shaping your initial idea of me? Guess what… I’m doing the same about you too. I have beliefs and ideas about the type of person who might indeed be interested in reading a blog piece from a guy who works with a team of people who strive to create positive change. I’m thinking… activist… values driven… sector professional… etc etc etc. I may be spot on, or I may be a bus ride off; but the point I’m trying to communicate is that I have a concept of who you might be, how you might think and what might motivate you.


In my learning from Shamsher, Michael and the wider Communities Inc team in the past year, I’ve come to a deeper understanding of what shapes and influences my ideas, attitudes and beliefs: the social norms and outside influences that make me pick up a phone and call the Director or CEO of, say, a funder, where in contrast my colleagues from less “Networked” backgrounds would write an email; or my inherent distrust of openly conservative individualistic values, in opposition to that of a progressive socialist and collective agenda.  


Singularly the most powerful and belief-changing thing I have learnt from my friends here at Communities Inc has been in relation to prejudice, hate and the bedrock of hate crime. That is; the connection between the problematic beliefs and attitudes we all have around anyone who is “Other” to our norm, and the escalating nature of action and harm that this permits us to justify to one another every day. To consider more on this please see Shamsher’s “Pyramid of Hate” below:

I’m fortunate in that I’ve been lucky enough to be included in conversations with hugely diverse groups of people across the country thanks to and the Stand By Me UK training programme. I’ve learnt lots from each and every session we facilitated, from Eastbourne to Liverpool and everywhere in between. The most important thing I realise now is that I need to keep listening and learning and make that the focus of my work and practice.