Kindness vs. the Home Office | Free Word

3 December 2020

Presented by:
Hamja Ahsan and Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan


A short film from writers and activists Hamja Ahsan (Shy Radicals) and Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, accompanied by a live discussion and collection of resources.

How does the state security apparatus combine extrovert supremacy, Islamophobia and racism? Could our silence actually protect us? 

‘People used to gang up on me cause I was quiet. And the reason was that I was unknowable. I thought of it more deeply: when I think of colonial violence, and its roots in the Enlightenment, we think of the desire to know everything. Everything has to be knowable… why can’t some people be content with not knowing? ‘

This new work captures these two important writers in candid conversation outside the UK Home Office on resistance to violent and pathologising state policy and features a powerful, moving poetry performance by Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan.

The film release will be marked by a live conversation with Suhaiymah and Hamja, which is free to join on Instagram. It will be accompanied by an archive of resources – on deportation, on prisons, on campaigns – to offer inspiration to activists, thinkers and writers.   

The film is produced by Tom Dream of Black Dog Films. An Instagram account will be required to stream the discussion. 


3 December 2020

Hamja Ahsan and Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan


Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan

Poet and Educator

Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan is an educator, writer and poet from West Yorkshire, UK. Her work disrupts questions of history, race, knowledge and power - interrogating the political purpose of narratives about Muslims, migrants, gender and violence. Suhaiymah was the runner-up of the Roundhouse National poetry slam 2017 with her viral poem, This is Not a Humanising Poem which gained 2 million views and was short-listed for the Outspoken Prize for Poetry in 2018. She is the author of poetry collection, Postcolonial Banter (Verve Poetry Press, 2019), co-author of the anthology, A FLY GIRL’S GUIDE TO UNIVERSITY: Being a woman of colour at Cambridge and other institutions of power and elitism (Verve Poetry Press, 2019) and hosts the Breaking Binaries podcast. Suhaiymah has written for The Guardian, Independent, Al-Jazeera, gal-dem and other national media outlets and her work has featured across radio and TV stations, magazines and digital media.

Hamja Ahsan

Artist, Writer and Activist

Hamja Ahsan is an artist, writer and activist based in London and Maastricht, Netherlands. He was shortlisted for the Liberty human rights award for his campaign around his brother Syed Talha Ahsan's extradition to the United States. His book, Shy Radicals: The Antisystemic Politics of the Militant Introvert. In his book, Shy Radicals, he argues that shy people are oppressed and presents a constitution for Aspergistan, a state for shy people. He was awarded the Grand Prize at the Ljubjana biennial 2019 for Aspergistan referendum based on his book. He is also the co-founder of the DIY Cultures zine festival and creative activism festival, developing solidarity campaigns around state crime and War on terror. He has an ongoing project about the use of zines in Hillsborough Justice, concerning the deaths of 96 Liverpool FC fans – Europe’s largest police cover-up. He is on the editorial board of Asylum, the Radical Mental heath magazine.

Tom Dream


Tom Dream is a director who collaborates closely with artists to create original music videos, live music, and documentary content. Style-nostalgia, nature and psychology are recurring themes that feature strongly in Tom’s work, alongside his passion for capturing ongoing stories as they unfold, illuminating the people behind the music, and unpicking human dynamics. Tom’s documentary short ‘Shy Radicals’ BFI/Black Dog Films co-production, is set for release late 2020. Featuring a performance of ‘Creep’ by Arlo Parks, ‘Shy Radicals’ is a portrait of Hamja Ahsan and the story behind his satirical manifesto, which calls for all shy, quiet, and introverted people to unify and overthrow extrovert-supremacy.



A Kinder Justice

Featuring Brother Portrait and Belinda Zhawi

Part of How To Be Kind season

Bougie Lanre's Boulangerie

Presented by Kareem Parkins-Brown

A poetic performance by Kareem Parkins-Brown on the nuances of the hospitality industry

Part of How To Be Kind season

Radical Kindness Of Forgiveness

With Cecilia Knapp and The Forgiveness Project

A two-part workshop on writing to forgive with Cecilia Knapp and The Forgiveness Project

Part of How To Be Kind season

Tough Loving Care

Presented by The Literary Consultancy

A literary advice column from TLC.

Part of How To Be Kind season