“I danced here on other peoples’ dreams”

Professor Gary Younge

This is a recording of a past event
24 February 2022


How can we build a more diverse, respectful and inclusive society?

Award-winning author, journalist, broadcaster and academic, Professor Gary Younge, shares his personal journey. From growing up as a child in a single parent home to becoming an author and professor.

He reflects on the collective struggles of those that have gone before him. And how it was only through those struggles that opportunities were created for others.

Gary writes:

The diverse, inclusive, respectful society that we wish to build does not exist yet; it is constantly in the making.  We are in some senses closer than we were; although what is gained in one quarter is often conceded in another.  But in almost every sense we are not even close to where we need to be.

The COVID pandemic laid bare both our vulnerabilities and potential.  It exposed the inequalities and precarities that are the fault lines of societal unrest and global inequities.  It has also made the case, as no politician can, that there is such a thing as the common good, that we have a collective responsibility for our common wellbeing and that we are capable of adapting to meet the challenge. We all suffered and we all made sacrifices; we did not, however suffer or sacrifice equally.

But in order to build that diverse, inclusive, respectful world we must first imagine it.  That is precisely what oppressed people have been doing for centuries as they fought for rights that seemed impossible and a world they could not see.  Whatever diversity, inclusivity and respect we have attained thus far has not been the inevitable product of decency, natural evolution or time and tide; it is the product of struggle by generations of people who waged battles they were unlikely to win for a world they did not know was possible.  People who fought not because victory was plausible but because not fighting ensured defeat.

That is also the story of my own unlikely journey from a single parent migrant home to being an author and professor.  But while it is my personal story, it’s not just my personal achievement.  It was the collective struggles of others that have gone before me that made that journey possible.  That suggests that there are myriad other journeys, yet to be made to destinations unknown, that we can make possible through our struggles today.

professor gary younge

Professor Gary Younge

Professor Gary Younge is an award-winning author, broadcaster and professor of sociology at the University of Manchester. Formerly a columnist at The Guardian he is the Alfred Knobler Fellow for Type Media. He has written five books, most recently, Another Day in the Death of America, which won the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize from New York’s Columbia Journalism School.

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