Birmingham Lit Fest Presents….

The Birmingham Literature Festival Podcast - Welcome to the very first Birmingham Literature Festival podcast, bringing writers and readers together to discuss some of 2020’s best books. Each Thursday we’ll be releasing new episodes of the podcast, including wonderful discussions about writing, poetry, big ideas and social issues. Join us each week for exciting and inspiring conversations with new, and familiar, writers from the Midlands and beyond.


episode 4: April, Sue Brown

The Birmingham Literature Festival podcast connects writers with readers. Join us for exciting and inspiring conversations about writing, poetry, big ideas and social issues with writers from the Midlands and beyond. New episodes monthly from April 2021.

  • Episode 4: April, Sue Brown

In April 2021, US police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. In this month’s piece performance poet Sue Brown reflects on the ways that institutionalised racism has come to the fore of public consciousness across the past year. 

Take a look at the rest of this year's digital programme on our website:
For more information on Writing West Midlands, visit

Follow the festival on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @BhamLitFest


Curator: Shantel Edwards (Festival director)
Production: 11C/ Birmingham Podcast Studios for Writing West Midlands


BLF Newsletter Podcast Transcript: Episode 4, Sue Brown


Welcome to the Birmingham Lit Fest Presents…podcast and our new series of commissioned writing about 2021. Each month we are commissioning a new writer to reflect on the month that has passed, offering us moments of connection through great writing and the opportunity to reflect about what we have collectively experienced at the end of the year. 

We will be bringing you a new short episode at the start of each month, with each piece read by our guest writers. You can read the pieces on our website, where you will also find information about our upcoming digital events.


My name is Sue Brown and I wrote the Birmingham Literature Festival poem in April 2021.

A year in a month: April 20th 2021, ONE person was found guilty of a crime that many thousands have been privileged to walk away from aided and abetted by the law.

May 25th 2020, the world witnessed the death of another Black man, George Floyd, by the systemised enforcement of racism. An act played out daily in various degrees around the globe for centuries. 

With credible witnesses, daily protest, the sad truth is that Black Lives is the Matter, a 'Problem'…  and yes, contrary to a commissioned government report, institutionalised racism still breathes today, alive and kicking even within the U.K.

The past year has presented nothing new, and once again, it was televised.

2020 started like any other year; 

I was unaware that the world was on the verge of an insidious order of events that would be drip-fed by the mainstream and social media, Western Governments and scientists.

Late February, reports about a virus began hitting the news daily, although… there was a distance between it and my reality. 

The West pointed fingers towards the Chinese; a plethora of conspiracy theories flowed. 

As the COVID-19 crises took shape, I got a sense that something untoward was emerging. WhatsApp messaging 'ramped up' subversion with creative facts. Public health responses to the outbreaks on cruise ships belied what was coming to the shores of Britain.

Boris led the charge with; hands face space - which became one of the pandemics mantras, spoon-fed between mixed messaging, confusion, and blatant lies to the nation, directing the focus to a new world order.

Imagine my surprise when Black folks, like myself, were identified as 'highly' susceptible to a so-called 'Chinese foreign' virus. Mainstream media drew attention to N.H.S. workers dying, particularly African, African Caribbean and Asian workers. Somehow, we had become a distraction, a dangerous proliferation of the pandemic. 

Diverse communities now herded into a BAME description, while the rhetoric by officials only subjugated our already marginalised identity, and blame became linked to BAME.

Government and health spokespersons 'ramped up' the campaign in trying to 'coax' the vaccine to the 'vaccine hesitant', those who reflected their lack of trust in the 'powers that be' based on hundreds of years of apprehension and suspicion.

Cultural appropriation dominated the nation, yet our voices weren't narrating our story, our experiences, our concerns, fuelling the fear that spread faster than the pandemic itself.


I felt the usual disdain, patronised by misinformation and lack of transparency in this hegemonic system. 

Ultimately racism is an inherent power - driven by fear and greed for control. It's an ideology woven into a social structure subtly, savagely and ominously perpetuated only to remain an active justification of superiority.

Until we can identify the facts, the CORE of racism for what it is, and the many levels on which it operates, we will not be able to make the real change necessary for each person to live their purpose without fear of being 'Hue-man', while celebrating and expressing origins.


Thank you for listening to this week’s episode of the Birmingham Lit Fest presents…podcast. Follow us on Instagram, twitter and Facebook @bhamlitfest. All information about the festival and upcoming events can be found on our website The Birmingham Lit Fest Presents... podcast is produced by 11C and Birmingham Podcast Studios for Writing West Midlands.


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