We threw a hugely consequential event last night in Cambridge. The University sent very senior reps to participate in the discussion and change is in the offing.
It’s interesting that I’m directly involved in the two great BAME initiatives that are emerging from Gown (which is what we call the University); BREAD and CAMbFIRE.
The university needs to do more to alleviate the intense alienation that is there in Cambridge. However I’m the sort of the person that I’m not confrontational but rather conversational.
I also follow the wisdom of my Parsi kinfolk when they first came to India. A good immigrant is “sugar in the milk“; we should be sweetening society where we can rather than simply transforming it.
So it’s a two way process however the host society must also make accommodation for the new arrivals.
I realise that with the BAME community, the silent humiliations and mockery builds up until it bursts the dam and the angry activists come through with these demands. Then the stereotype of an angry immigrant emerges.
My suggestion is that if we stop otherising “the other” (both host and guest) then we can deal with each other as human beings. That’s why I focus on these conversational and cultural initiatives; as a Baha’i I work towards unity.
However throughout the University there happens to be 30 college formals happening every evening. They serve Western food and usually people have to wear gowns to them.
If the University were to repurpose one of its old building in town and make an Asian Mess (with proper Asian chefs); it would do so much to serve the BAME community. One could argue why not Latin American or African but the Asian community is now 10+% and Asian cuisine is very particular (I would define Asia as per the US Census, Pakistan to Pacific).
Integration is not assimilation and it would be nice to have a less stuffy space that would cater to a growing community.