It pains me that this hashtag exists. We know that for the majority of Leave voters, their vote was not based in racism. We know that they had the country’s best interests at heart, just like those who voted for Remain. Now we all have to deal with the consequences. The racists seem to think that they now have the authority to tell immigrants to “f**k off back to their own country”. They fail to understand that we are very much still in the EU. Until someone actually has the guts to invoke Article 50, nothing has actually changed. Even after proceedings start, EU immigrants still have the right to work and live freely in the UK until it is completely out of the EU. Trade deals may even make free movement of people a necessity. Nobody knows because both sides failed to plan for this. Cameron had no back-up plan and Gove & Johnson didn’t look further than the results, both have since been deafeningly silent on the matter. There is no plan and the racists think the referendum has vindicated their twisted views. They think leaving the EU means anyone who speaks with an accent or has dark skin must leave. They will be sorely disappointed.
Reports of increased hatred and racism are abundant on social media. Stories of people yelling “White Power” or posting cards through Polish houses abound. Being surrounded by such negativity, it’s easy to get depressed about the state of the world but there is one quote by Fred Rogers that always helps me in times like this:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster’, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
It pains me to see my homeland descend to such levels. The similarity between far-right groups and Nazis is clear for all to see. Unfortunately, these groups scream louder than the rest of us. I know in my heart that half the population of the UK is not racist – they did not vote Leave because of misguided ideas about immigrants or even Muslims (yes, some people voted out based on their hatred of one particular religion). The Leave campaign’s rhetoric about no more immigration has made racism acceptable. They played on genuine worries about immigration and made scapegoats of all immigrants. They knew exactly what they were doing. Of course, they have since been busy backtracking their claims, just as they have done with the £350 million a week for the NHS.
So here I am, an immigrant sat in my flat in small-town Italy, wondering what the future holds for me and millions of others like me.