• Dispatch from Durham: Diversify - in conversation with June Sarpong

    "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced", wrote James Baldwin, a chapter epigraph to June Sarpong's inspiring new book Diversify.

    At a sold-out event in the beautiful Durham Town Hall, the closing event of the festival, I interviewed Sarpong about the book which compellingly puts forward arguments for the social, moral and economic benefits of diversity. Sarpong covers a wide range of topics including gender, class, disability, and age and also gives an insight into her own experience, growing up in Walthamstow ('Wilcomestu' as the Anglo-Saxons called it, she writes in the book, meaning 'place of welcome), the daughter of Ghanaian immigrants. She writes: "As a woman of colour, I am all too aware of the problems that can be caused by stereotyping. In fact, being excluded as a result of being a woman, and being excluded because of your race, are two forms of discrimination I understand first-hand". She talked about her own experience in broadcasting and the media, as a well-known television presenter, and reflected on how things have changed - and how far there is still to go for equality.

    What makes the book unique is that it offers practical tools and ideas for how we might go about "creating a new normal". The final part of the book, 'The Other Way in Action' is a call to arms. After all, as Socrates said, another chapter epigraph: "The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new".

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  DISPATCH FROM PORTUGAL

  The National Travel section
  April 2012

writing, broadcasting, speaking