Wednesday, 27 March 2013


Ben Ravilious has written the First Person column in today's Leicester Mercury. The titles given to these articles on the Mercury website sometimes differ from that in the print version. On the website, this piece has the title, "We've made diveristy our officila civic religion in Leicester". I'm sticking with that here, since if anyone goes searching for this piece online, that's what they'll find.

This isn't an original piece that Ben has written for the Mercury. He wrote this as a post on his blog, Only in Leicester. The Mercury approached him and asked if he could adapt it for their First Person format.

The important thing is what diversity brings
The City of Culture bid must do more than just state Leicester has a diverse populatioon, says Ben Ravilious
I was delighted to learn the city mayor has given the green light to Leicester's City of Culture bid. However, I already have nagging doubts about the direction this might be taking.
It's the flogging of the word "diversity" that concerns me. We've made diversity our official civic religion in Leicester but I think we should place more emphasis on the ways in which we mix to give us the best chance of winning.
Let's be clear, my wife is of a different race, religion and nationality to me, we have two mixed-race daughters and my life is far richer as a result.
I also think it's essential to continue the battle for equality so everyone in Leicester can all feel equally represented and respected.
But diversity alone is just a statistic and having diversity doesn't necessarily mean harmony or cultural significance. It's what we do with it that counts.
Leicester has done something with it, demonstrated by the extent of blending, mixing and intermarriage.
This is something to celebrate because it's somewhat unique to Leicester and is a living testament to the community cohesion this city is rightly famous for.
I recently took my daughters to a Chinese New Year party at a schoolmate's house where all but one of the children was mixed-race.
Census data echoes this and it's high likely mixed-race people will one day become the majority in Leicester. Even our existing monocultural festivals, such as the Caribbean Carnival, Diwali and St George's Day, are becoming increasingly mixed events.
But mixing rarely gets much attention because it tends to happen quietly and without fanfare in our homes, workplaces and schools.
Also, the participants are not one single cultural or political group whose voices get heard.
I think we have a great chance of winning City of Culture but I think we need to do more than just celebrate our constituent ethnic groups (noble though that is) and put more emphasis on new, home-grown, hybrid and shared culture.
We should be uncovering and showcasing the culturally unique things our city has produced through cultural mixing or otherwise: the food, music, art, science, sport, business, language and humour.
Mixing in particular has brought us interfaith sport, stars such as Gok and Engelbert, English market traders who can speak Hindi, curry pubs, musicians such as Cornershop and Laurel Aitken and it sets the scene for completely unique new culture to develop.
Let's celebrate the fruits of diversity, not just the facts of it.
Ben Ravilious lives in Leicester and runs a web development company

No comments:

Post a Comment