Saturday, 6 June 2020
Raising funds against hate
This is a sad and frightening time to be updating supporters on the Others project. When I had the idea for the book, three and a half years ago, I wrote these words to potential contributors:
Across the world, intolerance of otherness is growing: in Donald Trump’s America, in post-Brexit Britain and in a Europe seared by nationalistic resentment. Racism, xenophobia, misogyny and homophobia thrive in minds unwilling to entertain other points of view. While political resistance to these forces is necessary, artists have an essential part to play in showing us worlds beyond ourselves.
How far we are from winning these battles. It is in a moment of hope, then, that I write to let you know that I have just made substantial donations to the two charities we pledged to support. Stop Hate UK's support lines are as busy as ever, helping people to report hate crime and assisting police forces in fighting it. Refugee Action have been busy dealing with the shocking impact of the Covid-19 on our refugee communities. These brilliant charities need our belief and commitment, and you, as subscribers to Others, have been giving that support.
In the face of appalling police brutality in the US following the tragic death of George Floyd, and the power of #BlackLivesMatter to show how racism and prejudice infiltrate every aspect of our lives, more and more people are looking beyond the hashtags to ask what they can do – concretely – to help. I'd like to update you on a few developments in our project over the last few months, in the hope that you will help us to keep fighting this battle. Every copy of Others that we sell raises funds for these two charities. Quite simply, we need to get more people talking about and buying the book.
Here are some highlights from the recent media coverage; please share on social media if you can, using the hashtag #OthersBook. I did an event in Thirsk with Robin Ince and Laura Kidd in which we talked about the book and namechecked several of the contributions; you can listen to the whole thing here. Robin has been one of our staunchest supporters, and picked Others as one of his books of 2019. Elsewhere, online literary magazine Review 31 published a version of my introductory essay (thanks to James Cook for setting that up). Contributor Damian Barr was kind enough to read from his story 'Look Not With the Eyes' on Twitter. There was a great review of the book in the January issue of The Psychologist. Max Porter gave the book a mention in his round-up of the literary landscape for Waterstones:
If you're talking about the book on social media, why not tell the world about your favourite pieces? This helps to get the message across about the quality and variety of the contributions. Who do you know who could really do with hearing the message of the book? Would you be willing to buy another copy for friends, colleagues, family, bosses? Perhaps your employer might be persuaded to engage with the book, and even take it on as a resource in their own fight against hatred and prejudice.
Finally, if the book has moved you in any way, please leave a rating on an online platform like Amazon or Goodreads. There are an awful lot of nay-sayers out there who are not afraid to express their opinions. The books that go on to make a difference are those whose supporters let their feelings be known.
Thanks, and stay safe,