Five ways to fight racism in Brexit Britain
Five ways to fight racism in Brexit Britain
Leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party Nigel Farage with their EU referendum poster in London. Many people said the poster encouraged xenophobia (hating foreigners). © REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
A lot of people on the Left can now see that there is racism in Britain. So what can you do about it? by the Wretched of the Earth collective.
Since the Brexit vote, many people can now see that there is racism in Britain. But racism – from the state and on the streets – has increased in Britain in the last few years.
We have had the ‘prevent’ duty in schools and colleges, the ‘Go home’ vans against black and brown groups; the growth of the far right English Defence League and Britain First, and the police stopping and searching black people far more than others; we use immigration detention centres a lot more and there are more violent attacks against Muslims – even murders – on our streets. Have black and Asian people ever been safe in this country? Violent racism and xenophobia have increased since the EU referendum result. There are many reports in police stations across the UK and MPs are talking about it in Parliament. We will see the reports soon.
Many white people think that there is a small group of racists at the edge of society in Britain. But it is much bigger than this. There are different forms of racism: aggression in the workplace, violence on the streets and government policy against black and brown groups. All this contributes to a racist society. But we can change this together.
We need to:
• support people who are suffering from racism
• find out where racism and xenophobia come from
• learn how to stop the many untrue stories the media tell
• listen to people when they talk about their experiences of racism and xenophobia and
• not say people’s feelings and fears are not important.
If we saying, for example ‘it wasn’t about race or nationality’, or ‘you’re too sensitive’, or ‘it’s a class problem, not a race problem’, this just shows that you are in a much better position because you do not accept the very real feelings and experiences that others have to face.
And here are some practical things you can do to show solidarity with people who suffer from discrimination, hate and violence in Britain after Brexit:
1. Talk about racism if you see it in your workplace, your family or on the street. If you see discrimination against a colleague, ask them how you can support them and do what they say. If you have an uncle being racist at the dinner table, tell everyone it’s racist and maybe try to make him change. If you see racism on the bus or in the street, help. If one person says something, other people will follow. It’s great to say something is racist on social media, but even more important to do this in person.
2. Let people see the solidarity. We can put ‘Refugees Welcome’ signs in our windows, or put an advert on a bus. We know that hate in newspaper headlines or graffiti makes black and brown people feel insecure and afraid. If we challenge this, we tell them that they have support. We are not alone.
3. Help in a Stop and Search. It is 28 times more likely that police stop and search black people in Britain than white people. If the people they search don’t know their rights, police sometimes abuse them. Read and print this document and keep it with you: http://www.release.org.uk/publications/y-stop-search-card If you see a black or brown person being stopped and searched, you can give it to them and explain it if they ask. If the person being searched agrees, you can legally film the police on your phone, to help make them responsible. This can be a powerful form of solidarity.
4. Call an airline to challenge a deportation flight. In a deportation, people from Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary (MFJ) shout about it loudly. They get as many people as possible to phone the airlines to stop them doing the work of the government. Airlines can now see that it is not worth it to support the government with deportations. A lot of pressure on them can stop the airlines helping with deportations, and can stop individual people and families from having to leave the country. You can get updates here: http://www.movementforjustice.org/ , follow MFJ on social media and join MFJ action.
5. Help stop immigration raids in your community. Look at @AntiRaids on Twitter. Start a local group. Put up posters in your area explaining the rights people have if immigration officers talk to them. Walk in front of the van. There are many things you can do but, for most of them, you need to form a small local group that people can contact when they need support and that helps to tell others about their rights. This is practical, direct action. It can stop racist arrests and deportations. If you are white and have other forms of privilege, this can have a lot of influence on the officers in the immigration raids. Read this for more information (in other languages too): https://network23.org/antiraids/what-to-do-if-you-see-a-raid/ These are only starting points. Don’t wait for something to happen before you say something. Everywhere you go, talk about who is welcome and what attitudes are not welcome. Solidarity should not be secret. Together, our voices and actions can overcome the hate.
Wretched of The Earth is a collective of many groups supporting oppressed communities in the Global South and Indigenous North. Twitter: @WretchedOTEarth Facebook: wotearth Email: [email protected]
(This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have changed).