The following is a very rough draft for an article/idea on future gazing. It’s part of my work for the Birmingham 2022 project. I will be transforming these predictions and opinions into poetry for the publication, and a more articulate version of this will probably appear too. I hope you like it. Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
The Natural Power of Time and Cultural Integration
Birmingham – Source: http://www.birminghamnewsroom.com
Birmingham is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the whole of the UK. It has the highest population of any district in the country, with over a million inhabitants. The ‘Second City’ also has the highest percentage of non-white occupants in any city. Research conducted by the University of Manchester forecasts that by 2024, Birmingham will become the nation’s second ‘plural city’ where no ethnicity forms a majority.
This mixture of a variety of races, religions and creeds has given birth to a vibrant, diverse community. This community is the foundation for an artistic backdrop, which is sometimes hidden by clouds of negativity. This great, historic city and its current inhabitants (and all of their respective roots) come together to make Birmingham one of the most exciting places to be in the country. Its infrastructure, its business and its educational institutions make it a big player. Its arts and culture give it its true character and identity.
Modern day Birmingham does have its problems. If you believe the media, it’s a year or two away from Armageddon. There are areas with very high crime rates. Gun and knife offences aren’t a thing of legend. Unemployment is an issue. In March 2013, The Office of National Statistics revealed that Birmingham’s Ladywood constituency has the highest percentage of benefit claimants in the whole country, and it wasn’t alone at the top of the list. Hodge Hill came in second.
For young people growing up in the urban areas that surround the city centre, it’s often difficult to escape the everyday problems and drama that take over their communities. The racial and religious differences that exist in Birmingham are often over-hyped and used to distract the people at the bottom from the crucial issues, and divide them. The riots of summer 2011 served as a stark reminder that there is frustration and aggression in the streets of multi-cultural Britain. People are, and will increasingly become more aware of the real divide. A divide in class.
Through all of the negativity, there still has always existed a sense of creativity. A sometimes dark city is given light by performers and artists of all variations. Some of the most famous musicians in the world hail from Birmingham. The roots of heavy metal were developed here. Reggae music inspired by the West Indian population has evolved here. The Irish population gave us its music and traditions, and its mark is still left here in places like The Irish Centre in Digbeth. Asian culture and music is huge here. Hip-hop, jazz, soul and blues are still prevalent here. Its art, literature and theatre are renowned nationwide. The city is home to some of the most impressive architecture and most famous performance arenas in the country. There is always something going on in Birmingham.
As for the future of Birmingham, I expect more of the same. I see Birmingham in 2022 as a place of colour, vibrancy and life. I expect to see a population more in tune with each other, more united, and more creative. Through artistic expression, I expect to see the people come together more often in celebration and protest. I predict celebrations of the city’s unique roots and styles. I predict protests condemning and holding to account, the powers that be. There may be violence, there may be riots. There is sure to be a lot of creation and a lot of expression. I hope there will be unity. It’s unnatural for human beings not to come together and embrace their unique differences. I don’t see that kind of mindset continuing into the progressive future I expect to find myself in. That is my idealistic vision for Birmingham in 2022.