Gary Younge‘s column on the EU Referendum is deeply depressing but aptly sums up my mood and sentiment right now. The leave campaign won but Britain lost: “we are not independent. We are simply isolated”, as Younge laments.
I can’t speak for the rest of the 16 million people who voted to remain in the EU, but judging by many of the tweets I have been reading for the past few hours, a good proportion of Brits share similar concerns and for good reason.
As Younge observes: “When you dehumanise immigrants, using vile imagery and language, scapegoating them for a nation’s ills and targeting them as job-stealing interlopers, you stoke prejudice and foment hatred.”
Well on the day of Britain’s “independence” that hatred has been keenly felt by people of colour in the few short hours since the results were announced by racists and xenophobes who do not see us as part of the “new” Britain.
Marsha Oza tweeted: “Someone in Tesco just told me to go back to where I come from (London). 1st time I haven’t felt safe here in 20 years.”
Kirsty Harris tweeted: “Sad, scared and ashamed to be British. Feels like unity, compassion and inclusivity are rare values now.”
A member of Black British Academics, Marcia also expressed her own fears:
“I can see a return to the vibe of the 1970’s when I grew up experiencing racial comments written on our home, dog excrement through the letterbox and all manner of unpleasantness because we looked different. Seems immigrants are being blamed for the ills of this country and the EU. So the vote Leave, was also a vote to Leave behind equality, diversity and cultural democracy, so all the hard work and progress made has just been undone.”
Yet amid the hatred and xenophobia there is also hope. A wise person once said that things usually get worse before they get better. Though I am not trusting the present government to right the wrongs they helped create.
As Younge writes: “Our politics failed us. And since it is our politics only we can fix it.”
The “we” being referred to here is us, the British people. People of all ethnic backgrounds who respect and value difference, social justice and equality must stand united around a new agenda based on the principles of cultural democracy.
Cultural democracy is my vision for a more inclusive Britain where all ethnic and cultural groups can ‘be active participants in the world with an equal right to the cultural, economic and political power available within society’ (Aldridge, 2000:103).
I call on British people to shout a resounding “yes” to a Better Britain – an inclusive, diverse, vibrant and united society where love and respect thrive and hatred and racism have no place.”
Are you ready to unite for a Better Britain?