In the days since the Brexit vote was announced, it seems Britain’s white liberal Left have suddenly become aware of an uncomfortable truth for the first time: racism. And most notably, its prevalence. From shouts of ‘solidarity to my friends who feel less safe in Britain overnight’ to ‘so it seems it’s now okay to openly be racist on the streets’, many are presenting this well-established phenomenon as a genuinely new discovery.
So where have they been in the last few years when racism – both from the state and on the streets – has increased in Britain? From the introduction of prevent duty across educational institutions to ‘Go home’ vans targeting black and brown communities; from the rise of the English Defence League and Britain First to the vastly disproportionate use of police stop-and-search powers in black communities; from the increasing use of immigration detention centres across the country to the growth inviolent islamophobic attacks – and even brutal murders – on our streets… Let’s be honest: has there ever been a time when black and brown people have been safe in this country? It is clear that violent racism and xenophobia have increased since the referendum result was announced. Various police forces up and down the country areinvestigating numerous reports and MPs are raising questions in the House of Commons. It’s only a matter of time before reports galore are thrown our way outlining this increase in attacks.
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White people seem to think that there is a small, fringe group of racists in Britain, but the reality is much more uncomfortable and implicates a large part of the white population in more and less direct ways. There are different forms of racism, from microaggressions in the workplace, to violence on the streets, to government policy targeted directly at black and brown bodies, all of which contribute to a racist society. We can, however, change this together, starting by undertaking acts of allyship with those experiencing the current spike in this country’s long history of racist scapegoating. Get informed on where racism and xenophobia come from and learn how to dispel the numerous myths regularly doled out by the mainstream media. Listen to people when they open up about their experiences of racism and xenophobia and don’t be dismissive of people’s feelings and fears. Saying things like ‘it wasn’t about race or nationality’, or ‘you’re being overly sensitive’, or ‘it’s a class issue, not a race issue’, only reinforces your privileged position by denying the very real feelings and experiences that others have to face.
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Moving on from awareness to action, here are some practical things you can do to demonstrate active solidarity with those experiencing increased discrimination, hate and violence in post-Brexit Britain:
We’ve named a few of the things you can do to demonstrate active solidarity with those experiencing racism and toward dismantling white supremacy in this country, but they are only starting points. Don’t wait around for something to happen to speak up. In whatever places and groups you find yourself in, be vocal about who is welcome here and what attitudes aren’t. Silence is violence and allyship is not something to be done in secret. Together, our voices and actions can overcome the chorus of hate.
Wretched of The Earth is a collective of over a dozen grassroots Indigenous, black, brown and diaspora groups, individuals and allies acting in solidarity with oppressed communities in the Global South and Indigenous North. Twitter: @WretchedOTEarth Facebook: wotearthEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org