The Global Acts of Unity Campaign visited Bradford District the first two weeks of December. Based in Shipley, we visited many schools and colleges in the area.
I am very happy to admit that I do have a tenuous connection to Bradford. Relatives of mine stayed in the city a few years back and I have visited Bradford many times since; though I must admit, not for many years. My father was also a proud Yorkshireman, Halifax born and bred. He used to tease me that since I was born a Scot, I could not play cricket for Yorkshire.
Yorkshire folk are well known for their hospitality and their down to earth attitude. On my visits to schools this was very apparent. In my occasional visits to your hostelries and cafes again that reputation was well founded. Everywhere I went I was met with friendliness and warmth. I had some great discussions with Shipley folk.
However, Bradford District should be very very proud in my experiences talking with students your youth are unique. Wherever I am doing a presentation in my question and answer session I turn one of the questions to receiving verbal abuse of race or religion. My aim is to show how racist or bigoted abuse is designed for retaliation. The very normal reaction to receiving abuse is to continue the hatred that the original perpetrators give.
During my Q&A I look for someone who is not Caucasian and if possible visibly, another faith. I ask them if they have ever received verbal abuse because of their religion or colour. The answer has always been “yes”, that leads me to talk of how it feels and the desire to strike back, continuing the hatred cycle.
Early on in my visit to Bradford District I asked that question to a student at a school. Expecting the answer to be yes, I was ready to continue my usual talk, however I got a “no” back. This was very different to the usual and kind of threw me. So, I asked another student and again the answer was “no” again I asked another asking about five different students. In the end I had to ask the whole audience the same question and to raise their hands. About five students in an audience of over two hundred.
10 times this happened. Only in Bradford District has this happened to me. I have spoken to tens of thousands of students and always the answer has been yes. Bradford youth, schools, and Council should be very very proud of themselves.
My visit to Bradford District has been the high point of the GAU tour so far. I am proud of my links to Yorkshire and Bradford district. You are unique in my experience so far. Well done to all of you, especially your youth.
Main image: Bradford © Curtis Malinowski