The world seems so scary from up here on my 6th floor apartment.
I woke up this morning to headlines about racist outbursts around the city and around the country. Brexiteers are shouting at immigrant-looking shoppers in the grocery store in Gloucester to “f*ck right off“. School children are being bullied by their classmates because of their ethnicity. Cultural centres are being vandalized and smeared by racist comments here in London.
Yesterday, I had hope. Today, I’m fearful.
I’m scared to step outside because I might be met with these outbursts. I’m scared for the more than 2 million Europeans living in this country. I’m scared for my future. I’m scared I will lose my friends and the person I love because they are talking about moving away, to countries that I can’t support myself in because I don’t speak their local language. I’ve cried over the grim possibilities. I am so, so afraid.
It’s hard to convey how tense the atmosphere here is, to my family and friends back home. I’ve been asked why I’m so worked up about this, I’m not even European, they would point out.
I’m not European. But I’m a visible minority. I’ve experienced racism in the past. I know how it feels to be unwanted and looked at with disgust. I’m not British. But this is the first time in five years that I’ve lived in one place this long. My autonomy started here. My adulthood started here. My life as an individual, separate from my family, started here. I invested my time, my hard-work, my money, and my ideas here. Only for two years thought. So the depth of my sadness, my heartbrokenness, my fears, cannot even compare to the families who have moved here generations ago, who have invested their entire lives, their loved ones, and their children in this country, who are now receiving unwarranted hatred on the streets, in their grocery stores, schools, and homes.
I thought about my own anger and hate. I thought about hope. I thought about fear. I’m confused as to what to think. Should I let anger and hate take control? Should I keep hoping in the face of all this horror? Should I fear and get out of here?
I don’t know what to feel, so I read. I read endless articles in the hope that I gain some sort of perspective. I don’t want to let anger and hatred take over, because these racists deserve none of my attention or emotions. It’s hard to hope because waves and waves of xenophobia keep on crashing over this country. I stubbornly refuse to let fear push me out, because escape seems so cowardice. It seems like I’ve failed and given up.
So I turn to all three:
Anger and hate have manifested themselves in a twisted sort of vengeance. I hope Scotland and Northern Ireland and whichever other area decides to vote for independence, goes free. I want to see the English economy tank and the pound reduced to nothing. I want to see those racist communities isolated and desolate. I want to see the Brexiteer leadership scrambling and regretful. I want to see England crash and burn because then it can serve as a glorious example of how xenophobia does nothing but hurt and destroy. Because then, the rest of the EU could be saved.
Hope is also there. I hope this country will rectify itself. The lack of leadership from the Brexiteer politicians and more than 2 million signatures on a petition for a second Brexit referendum are lights in a deep sea of dangerous xenophobia. Sadiq Khan, London’s Mayor, issuing a message to the city to calm the markets and especially, to reassure the more than 1 million Europeans living here that they are welcome and that “the enormous contribution [they] make” is valued “and that will not change as a result of this referendum”. Nicola Sturgeon’s reassurance that Scotland will continue to welcome Europeans with open arms, warms my heart. There is hope. There remains the 48.1%.
Finally, there comes fear. The links I have provided at the start of this post are enough. I don’t want to showcase any more of the horrors that have arisen because Brexiteers think racism is ok to express now that the UK have voted for Leave.
In the long, torturous days, weeks, months, and years ahead, I will no doubt oscillate between these and many more emotions. But childhood movies and lessons about how good always wins over evil, will keep me hoping for the best, hoping that inclusiveness does triumph over racism, and that love does triumph over hate.