Life after Brexit: ‘I’m not racist but’

Only a few weeks ago (pre Brexit) I, like many, would have argued the UK is not racist or xenophobic. I’d have argued this with confidence. We are a welcoming multicultural society, aren’t we?! Yes, I was aware that there are pockets of society in the UK that are unhappy about immigration. But, did I think it was hate-fuelled and would result in personal attacks? No.

Of course I’ve spotted the front pages on the right-wing press and dismissed them in disgust. But dismiss them I did because I didn’t believe it was a reflection on our society. I was also naive to the damage they were doing. Not overtly racist but the premise was there, immigrants are to blame. Brexit appears to have provoked a crescendo of emotions within the UK, fuelled by the media. We’re Brits, we love to moan and we also pride ourselves on our freedom of speech. It’s great that we can voice our opinions but when does free speech become hate speech?

Express headlines

Image credit: Andrew @DingersClapham

I am part of the problem! I’ve been blinkered to the views of many, ignored them, disregarded them and kind of hoped once the older generation had died out, any racism and xenophobia would also disappear without a trace. The right-wing press I so carelessly disregarded, The Sun, The Daily Mail and The Daily Express, have huge readerships. I feel foolish! Of course the masses were listening – young and old. I’ve arrogantly assumed that the majority of people around me hold the same views as me, so Brexit has been a big wake-up call. I haven’t been vocal enough about my views, because I didn’t think it was necessary. Brexit, appears to have unearthed a demon, an awakening and a platform for those that hold non-Brits responsible for our country’s failings. C’mon we live(d) in an economically stable country, with very few issues!

Not everyone who voted to leave is racist.

Now, let me make this very clear, I don’t believe that everyone who voted to leave the EU did so for immigration reasons or because they are racist. Many voted because they believed an extra £350 million a week would come to the NHS, they don’t want to be governed by a body that gives us little authority, and I’m sure there are other valid reasons. But, there are also many who voted to leave because they’re worried about immigration and within that group of people reside the racist and xenophobic. Within this group there are intelligent people, but many I believe are just scared.

 

Violetta tweet

What has made these people so afraid?

Certain media outlets have been like dripping taps, slowly but surely filling homes, heads and hearts with fear. How many people have been heavily influenced by these headlines, despite never having experienced any negative effects of immigration?

Daily Mail

Image credit: Simon Cullen (@Simon_Cullen)

Boston in Lincolnshire has the highest rate of immigration in the UK and has below average unemployment. It’s rate of growth has been rapid, so services are stretched but it’s booming. Instead of fighting against people who are from different countries and cultures it could be an opportunity to broaden our outlook on life, accept and learn about the world.

The people I know who voted to leave due to immigration live in the Home Counties, some in little villages and towns. Many only mix with people from other nationalities because of the restaurants they choose to eat in, or when they go to hospital and get cared for. Some have work colleagues, neighbours and friends from other countries. But this just makes their vote to leave for immigration all the more bizarre. The battle cry to ‘make Britain great again‘ has been used by many, but I’m really struggling to see what was wrong with Britain. The few niggles we had surely can’t be blamed on immigration. It seems to be more of a feeling of nostalgia that’s evoked these emotions.

How big is this issue?

I’m writing this post on the back of listening to a radio interview of a German woman, in tears after being victimised for ‘not being from here’. Dog shit thrown at her home. In her own words she lives in a British middle class society and has done so since the 1970s.

The Polish Social and Cultural Association in Hammersmith was vandalised with a racist slogan. Various reports are coming in about verbal abuse all over the country. Even The Daily Mail is reporting that there’s been a 57% increase on hate crimes post-Brexit. I’ve now listened to multiple first hand accounts of people who’ve been abused for their heritage, having never received this kind of abuse pre-Brexit.

Perhaps our lovely media are blowing this all out of proportion and we can write this off as yet another over-inflation of a disturbing issue. I hope so and when the Police stats come in we’ll know for sure (I won’t use the Daily Mail as a credible source!) but I challenge anyone to listen to the first hand accounts and not recognise this is an issue.

The right-wing media have perpetuated a fear into the nation that immigration is the problem and the racist minority have a newfound confidence to be loud and proud about their controversial views.

But the press are back-peddling fast. The blame they laid at the immigrants doors has worked, they influenced a nation.

The Sun on June 26th.

The sun mon

The Sun on June 28th.

The Sun today

Credit Ben Stanley (@BDStanley)

My Experience

When I travelled through South Africa I was shocked by how divided society still is post-apartheid. I probed and questioned everyone I could on their views and the background to their thinking. I was told by many white South Africans, that I didn’t understand as I haven’t lived through it. I have to respect that as I haven’t been directly impacted by apartheid, I haven’t lived through it.

I have however grown-up in England, I’m 34 years old and I remember this so called Utopia of 20 years ago! As far as I’m concerned we’ve only progressed as a society. 20 years ago I was aware of more racism, more mistrust. But, I truly believed we’d evolved. People recognised the benefits of having such a rich multicultural society – the friends they’d made, the food they enjoy, the diversity of culture and skills immigration brings and the huge monetary contribution to society.

I’ve been an immigrant and actively called myself one, despite our lovely flowery ‘Ex-Pat’ title we like to give ourselves when we live overseas. How would I feel if I was living overseas right now, in a peaceful, welcoming country, working hard, paying tax and rent and contributing to the system. I’d feel mortified and scared!

Not all immigration just controlled immigration

Of course, many claim they’re not against immigration they just want controlled immigration. What is that? Maybe they only want the highly skilled people to come here. Screw anyone that may want to join us for a better life but still wants to earn and contribute. So how do they feel when high skilled/high income jobs are given to foreign people? Look at yourself and your peers – do you rank each other on your value as a person by the jobs you do? You’re a bricky and your mate is a solicitor – does that mean you’re less or more of a person? No of course it doesn’t. Perhaps they only want unskilled migrants, so they can pick up the jobs that we cannot be arsed to do. But they still get accused of coming over here and taking our jobs.

Contribution

 

 

 

(IAS Immigration Services)

Maybe you believe immigration has a huge impact on our generous benefits system.

Benefits

 

 

 

(IAS Immigration Services)

Worried about the impact of immigration on the NHS?

‘New immigration rules that will mean lower-earning non-EU workers being deported will exacerbate the shortage of nurses in the UK and cost the NHS tens of millions in recruitment, the government has been warned by nursing leaders.’ (The Guardian) 

What Next?

Ask those close to you, how immigration directly impacts them? Ask yourself, how does it impact you personally? Yes there are people that live in towns and cities with a large amount of immigration, but all the anti-immigration people I know live in places that have seen little change over the years. What has caused this fear?

Those of us that think the uprising of attacks, verbal abuse, vandalism and any kind of victimisation or bullying is disgusting need to counteract this. We must go out of our way to be vocal about how anti this behaviour we are. I’m sure (I hope!) the vast majority who voted leave for immigration reasons are equally horrified by these hate crimes. If you witness any hate crime report it to the police, the transport police or the charity Stop Hate UK.

Sign this petition to vocalise your concern about the media’s negative hate-fuelled portrayal of immigrants.

There are prominent voices condemning the hate and promoting inclusivity, the London Mayor Sadiq Khan possibly the most vocal. We are starting to see random acts of kindness and support to those non-Brits who call Great Britain home. Be one of those people!

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 13.07.14 ‘Found pinned to the door of the Welsh Polish Association in Llanelli, South Wales, this morning.’ (June 27, 2016)

Credit: BBC Wales

Disagree?

If you voted leave and the immigration policy was part of your reasoning please educate me! What did you want to happen? How does immigration directly impact you negatively? What does controlled immigration mean to you? How do you feel about the increased number of racist and xenophobic attacks?

2 Comments on “Life after Brexit: ‘I’m not racist but’

  1. “disregarded them and kind of hoped once the older generation had died out, any racism and xenophobia would also disappear without a trace.”

    Johanna,
    Speaking as one of the undead older generation, who also leans towards the right, I resent your implication that I must, by definition, be both racist and xenophobic. All societies and countries have a proportion of their population who are both of those things and to varying degrees. Just because a minority of unpleasant “activists” have seized an opportunity to make a vile noise, you cannot interpolate that into being either a national characteristic, or a characteristic of those who voted to leave the EU. The “Red Top’ press has always stirred up resentment and fear about any and all issues, including the weather, because that is what sells papers, and you can cherry pick headlines to support almost any issue that you wish to highlight.
    Yes, there are people who are afraid of “mass” immigration and the effect it is having on their local services. There are immigrants who are delightful individuals, and also some that are not so nice. It is, however, the overall impact on some areas in our country that the racists and xenophobes amongst us have set out to exploit.
    In the debate, a lot of noise has been generated over the issue of immigration but, there are more fundamental issues relating to Democracy and Sovereignty (which is not the same as xenophobia), that took the majority of the nation into the “Leave” camp.
    Chris Card

    • Hi Chris, maybe I didn’t make myself clear in this post, but there is absolutely no way I believe all old people are racist and or xenophobic.It would be hell on earth if that was the case. In my personal experience, however, it has been the older generation (a minority of) that have racist views. As I’ve said in this post, since the referendum I realise this was naive. The verbal abuse has been from people of all ages and it’s disgusting. Yes the red top press comment on lots of topics, but immigration isn’t one I’ve cherry picked – it’s been a consistent drip-feeding of blame. In section two I clearly state that there are a number of reasons why people voted to leave and I feel relieved that democracy and sovereignty are key to the decision making.

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