Literature, outsiders and welcoming them in

Thanks to the excellent Baroque in Hackney my stuporous misery has been punctured by the reminder that it is Refugee Week. Hurrah! Following the Griffin pelting, which still makes me smile despite my long-standing conviction that even symbolic violence is wrong, I am motivated to do something. On the Refugee Week website there are 20 simple acts that any of us can undertake to show that we welcome people of any and all culture, religion or ethnic group to our society.

Many of our greatest writers are exiles from their homes, whether voluntary or involuntary. Literary history recognises the value of the outsider, and the outside view, the shift of context that comes from observation of cultural difference and the strength of common bonds: family, love, loyalty, loss. In other words, refugees have been both a resource and a depository of literary culture. One of my greatest loves is that amorphous body of writing called ‘diaspora literature’ and refugees and the refugee experience are the bedrock of that particularly bittersweet genre.

My current condition precludes playing football with a refugee, or with anybody for that matter, and while I’d love to take tea with a refugee (or with anybody, for that matter) there don’t seem to be any Brighton based tea-related events. So I’m taking the tribe (ha, we’re a tribette if we’re anything, too small to even be nuclear!) to the Pav Theatre to see a refugee-led performance of dance, drama and discussion (and it says food too, my cup runneth over and hopefully my plate as well) on 14 June. What will you do to show the BNP and their unlovely ilk that they are just plain wrong?

And if you think it’s none of your business, remember that a bit more egg-pelting and a bit less recession thinking might have stopped Hitler before he was able to begin implementing the Final Solution. If Vidal Sassoon could put down his scissors in the late 1940s to fight fascism on the streets of London, we can all find a couple of hours to do the same, and we don’t even have to fight, we can enjoy ourselves in the process.

Refugee tot in Afghanistan courtesy of tracyhunter at Flickr

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