It’s been a week since as a country we voted to leave the EU, and I haven’t written anything, because to be frank, I couldn’t think of the words. There were those who said “wait a while – it’ll be fine”, “we don’t know what will happen yet”, “we all have to pull together” – but strangely it did’t help the feeling of foreboding.
Now, I’m no financial expert, so I have no valid comment about how things will pan out – whether the recovery of the pound will hold, whether the stock market will recover – I don’t know, althought the governor of the bank of England says it will “weigh on our economic prospects for some time”. We just have to wait and see on that one – and certainly we won’t see immediate permanent changes. And I already know one man who did very well out of the collapse of the pound – buying Euros last Wednesday and selling them on Friday netted him 20K. The rich will always find a way…..
There is one thing that I can talk about though, something that is happening now, something that was apparent from day one. If there is one thing this vote has done – and I have seen it, so don’t tell me it hasnt – is that it has consolidated and in some way legitimised racism.
Those who tell me not to panic, or not to get disheartened – I wonder where they live? Because I live in a city – a glorious, multicultural city, and I love it. I don’t have an ivory tower, I don’t even have a car that will take me from place to place without interacting with people. I walk, I use public transport, I am on the streets with the crowds, and it’s here that I see the difference an “out” vote has made. I see it in the “integration project” sessions – the very name could almost be a sick joke – those ladies who we are trying to help resettle here, they were already nervous, never went into town alone – and now? They have already been subjected to verbal abuse by people who think that because we voted to leave the EU these people will immediately be packed off to some unknown “where they came from”. I know someone who is afraid to let her little sister go to work on the bus for fear of racist attacks, so she takes her to work every morning in her car – and sees her in the door. We have all seen the “calling cards” left at the homes of Polish people. I saw someone online justifying the shooting of Jo Cox by saying she would have “filled this country with sub humans”
All of this is breaking my heart. And it’s making my job as a community worker almost impossible. All I can do is keep on doing my best, reassuring the lady on the bus that we don’t all feel like that, apologising for my fellow countrymen, being there where and when I can. I’ve also started wearing a safety pin in my coat – as part of an online idea that if anyone is scared or just doesnt know who to sit next to on the bus, they will see the safety pin and know I am a safe person to sit with.
I want this feeling to go away, and I’m waiting and seeing – like they say, but I don’t think it’s going to go away any time soon.