Here I Stand against hate
Here I Stand is a new Amnesty collection of short stories and poems for young adults. It’s full of words and pictures that aren’t afraid to shine a light into the dark corners of modern, western society.
We’re enormously proud of it.
Fiction for empathy
This book is inspired by the fact that human rights aren’t fully enjoyed even in the UK, USA and western world. They are precious and we need to defend them.
We commissioned it because we believe in the power of stories and poetry to make us think, to help us understand the world, and to inspire empathy.
And my goodness, we need empathy now more than ever. Who would have guessed how the world would shift on its axis in 2016? We didn’t foresee this when we commissioned Here I Stand, but it’s a sad fact that it’s coming out at a time of intensifying levels of hate crime, hate speech, racism and xenophobia in the UK, USA and internationally.
Here I Stand – what’s in it?
Every story, every poem, has human rights at its heart. In his foreword, human rights lawyer Jules Carey calls on us to care, to question and to take action.
You’ll find Christie Watson’s story ‘The Importance of Screams’ on female genital mutilation; Matt Haig’s ‘The Invention of Peanut Butter’ on privacy, surveillance and unelected government; Sita Brahmachari exploring the experiences of a child who cares for her mother in ‘Stay Home’; while ‘A Suicide Bomber sits in the Library’ by Jack Gantos celebrates the power of books to transform lives.
In ‘Harmless Joe’ by Tony Birch, people on the margins of Australian society have the courage to help each other; Frances Hardinge’s ‘Bystander’ looks at torture of children alleged to be witches in modern Britain; Chibundu Onuzo’s ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ casts a light on gang warfare and social inequality.
Tim Wynne-Jones explores the development of new remotely-controlled weapons in ‘Robot Killers’; Sarah Crossan shows the devastation of communities by oil companies in ‘Sludge’; Ryan Gattis’ ‘Redemption’ explores the death penalty in the context of the author’s own correspondence with a man on death row.
Shining a light on darkness
Some of the darkest stories respond to recent revelations. John Boyne’s ‘Harvester Road’ challenges us to face up to the reality of child sex abuse; Elizabeth Laird looks at the experience of girls subjected to sex trafficking in ‘School of Life’; in ‘Love is a Word Not a Sentence’, Liz Kessler explores the emotional impact of homophobic bullying; Bali Rai’s ‘The Colour of Humanity’ probes an appalling racist attack; in ‘What I Remember About Her’ AL Kennedy observes the impact of bullying; Kevin Brooks’ ‘Barley Wine’ shows how poverty and loneliness can strip human dignity and self-worth; ‘When the Corridors Echo’ by Sabrina Mahfouz tells a story about children criminalised by adults’ fear of terrorism.
Graphic stories, poems and Chelsea Manning
There are two graphic stories: Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell respond to the Paris terror attacks with ‘I Believe…’, while Bryan and Mary Talbot and Kate Charlesworth base their piece ‘Deeds not Words’ on the true story of two prominent British suffragettes.
Jackie Kay has given three poems, ‘Glasgow Snow’, ‘Constant’ and Push the Week’, inspired by conversations she had with women refugees in Scotland. American poet Amy Leon’s poems ‘Darling’ and ‘Black and White’ explore racial inequality and discrimination, but also celebrate responding to injustice with grace.
Finally, American whistle-blower Chelsea Manning, currently serving a 35 year prison term for leaking classified information, reveals her thoughts and motivation in an interview about standing up for what you believe in.
Don’t be put off by the subject matter: read it and be inspired
Their writing is beautiful, poignant, touching, challenging – and above all inspiring.
We hope that at least one of the contributions to this anthology talks directly to you. What would you do in the circumstances? We hope you’ll feel inspired to take a stand and make a difference in the community, school or wider world.
‘Every gain for human rights and those freedoms we enjoy began with one or two people recognising that something was worth fighting for, and joining with other like-minded people to make a difference. I hope you will all be inspired to do the same.’
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.