The Spirit of Diversity Lives In Pompey

Rosy Bremer reports on her action responding to a recent hate crime at the Madani Academy, Portsmouth.

In a moment of idle procrastination recently I did one of those time-wasting internet tests – like what Harry Potter house are you in? How long would you survive a zombie apocalypse? How would you rid the world of nuclear weapons? Who is your most bad-ass friend? Is Noam Chomsky a linguist or a garden statue? Chiswick or Chiswick; which is it? Is Schrödinger’s cat dead, alive or fleeing a war-zone and no European Government wants to assume responsibility for a non-native cat so it has to stay trapped in a box? You know, that sort of thing.

The test I recently wasted my time on informed me that I am most likely to be in the news for having my ears removed to look like a parrot.  Maybe I’ll try that one day when I’ve got tired of my ears, and of looking like a human who can hear properly.  Until that ear-removing day arrives though, I shall content myself with smaller actions of possible news-worthiness that are kinder to my body and to other people, many of whom might be shocked to encounter the ear-less Parrot Woman of Portsmouth.

At least I am most unlikely to find myself sweating in the media spotlight for depositing the head of a pig and a swastika outside a local Muslim school.  The person or people who did dump a pig’s head and a symbol associated with a regime of mass-murder outside Portsmouth’s Madani Academy recently seem to have taken care not to be identified, presumably  with a glimmer of insight that on many levels what he, she (unlikely) or they did stinks.

Madani AcademyI wouldn’t mind though if people knew that my daughter, a friend/colleague, her partner and I visited the school a couple of days after the upsetting incident of the pig at the gate with a couple of bags full of nice things.  We had plastic flowers, a small tiger wind-chime (a gift from a friend), lots of cards with bright pictures, a bamboo owl from the “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” table in the staff room at work, and a decorative array of small birds and shells in make-you-smile colours.  We didn’t want these things to stay with us; we wanted them to adorn the school’s fence in as colourful a display of anti-racist solidarity as we could muster.  We wanted to cheer the kids up and let the school know that the spirit of diversity and playful friendliness lives, breathes and gets up early in Pompey.

Other friends and people went later in the day to the school, offering sweets and good wishes.  These are all things which haven’t hit the headlines; not least because it is the school’s wish to keep a low profile.  I thought about doing a press release but decided against doing it because in the end I wanted my actions to speak to the pupils, the staff and the parents of the children who attend the Madani Academy, and to them alone.

As it is now some days after the event, I offer this account in my own words in the spirit of citizen journalism, mindful of respecting the school’s privacy, dignity and safety.

I still wonder about that internet test, though: Pretty Fence or Pretty Polly?

Photography by Rosy Bremer.

Editors Note: Since this article was written, the Conservative-led administration of Portsmouth City Council voted to close Portsmouth’s dedicated Hate Crime Prevention Service, which according to the recent Council report on Budget Savings 2016/17, will ” lead to there being no service to support victims of hate crime, other than [council] housing tenants.”