My plan this week was to speak to you all about confidence when you’re in situations completely out of your comfort zone, as I’m currently staying in Bath to complete two weeks of work experience. But, then “Brexit” happened, and so did the racist slurs and other insults many of us expected would follow.
I have no issue sharing my political views on this one: we should have voted to remain. The difference between the number of people voting to remain and leave was so small that it shouldn’t have even been viable. Especially since multiple people are now saying “I wish I’d voted remain”, and admitting that it was mainly to give our politicians a kick in the teeth that they voted leave. I can get behind that concept. I understand that some people want tighter immigration laws, and also believe that the economy would benefit- I understand that these are things we need to look at. But, today I’m not talking reasons for voting remain or leave- I’m talking about it’s aftermath.
I only had to scroll down my Facebook feed to see that this vote had turned people against each other. And yesterday I found an article that listed tweets, FB statuses, and videos of racism that has emerged since the leave party won. People telling those who call Britain their home to “get out of my country”, people making the victory sign at families taking their children to school. One old woman gleefully telling a Polish mother on the bus that she and her baby would be deported any day now.
I know people who voted leave for valid reasons- but I know more people who voted leave because they are racist. I don’t brand all people who voted this way as being racist, old, or working class. The same way I don’t brand all people voting remain as egalitarian, young, or rich.
I remember when voting propaganda began to fly around Newcastle. I remember men with “leave” leaflets and T-shirts quietly insulting Chinese students under their breath as they passed by. Now, these people feel they can openly and loudly make their comments. And they do.
Unlike many others I know, the fact that we left the EU didn’t shock me. When my family were saying they thought it would be close, but we would remain, I had to disagree.
One comment I read on an angry FB status about our leaving the EU, claimed that the writer was blaming a pre-war generation for the vote (stats showed that older people had a higher frequency of leave votes, and younger a higher frequency of remain votes). That the writer was blaming the people who had fought for our country in the first place. However. Part of what this generation was fighting for was to free those who were seen as the “other” at the time. Jews, homosexuals, communists, socialists, the disabled… the list goes on and on. Did the generation who fought for us really fight for the next generation to be able to victimise people that they see as “other” now?
In the next few weeks and- if the petition for another vote is not passed- years I want to encourage anyone reading this post, regardless of their political views, to stand up to the discrimination that is rearing its head in the UK right now. I didn’t believe that my country was capable of showing such ignorance and hatred. Anyone who is experiencing this behaviour towards themselves right now, I can only apologise. I can only tell you that regardless of what some people say, you are welcome here.