In the wake of the Brexit referendum on whether to leave the European union, Britain is facing a great divide amongst their people. After it was announced that the UK voted 52% to 48% in favor of leaving, people all over the world have issued their shock and despair at what this could mean for the future of Britain. For people of color, the result of this vote has sparked a lot of xenophobic and racist abuse.
Immigration was a main factor for people voting to leave the EU, especially since Leave supporters often campaigned by using racist language and xenophobic rhetoric. Now that it’s a reality, a lot of people believe that this will cause all immigrants to be forced to leave the UK immediately. It has given them the confidence to verbally abuse strangers in public by telling them to “Go back to where they came from” and chant “Make Britain white again.”
According to the National Police Chiefs’ Council, hate crimes have increased 57 percent between last Thursday and Sunday in the UK compared to the same time frame last month. The media has reported about property damage by a petrol bomb at a Halal butcher, a swastika drawn on a Northern Ireland home, laminated cards reading “Leave the EU/No more Polish vermin” that were left outside of schools, a verbal assault against a black man on a Manchester bus, and racially motivated graffiti found at the Polish Social and Cultural Association in Hammersmith.
these cards have actually been put through letter boxes of Polish families in Huntingdon today. I could weep pic.twitter.com/P3maK1Vasf
— fencelt (@howgilb) June 25, 2016
Social media has been the primary place where most of these hate crimes are being shared. The hashtag #PostRefRacism began trending on Twitter with accounts of racist activity. A Facebook group called, “Worrying Signs”, was created by Remain voter Sarah Childs. She’s been compiling social media posts about people’s racist and xenophobic experiences since the vote and allowing others to share their personal encounters.
White man on my bus proudly refusing to give the empty seat next to him to anyone non-white. Is this how it's going to be now?
— Candice C-Williams (@CandiceC_W) June 26, 2016
— daniel watson (@DWxLW) June 25, 2016
The ignorance and hatred that people of color have been enduring since the Brexit vote allows them to feel unwelcome in a country they call home. As if Britain, a place known throughout history for colonizing numerous countries, hasn’t become the nation that it is because of immigrants. For people of color this vote means that they aren’t wanted in Britain. They’ve become a target for hatred that is unprecedented because of fear-mongering based off of unjust stereotypes.
We can’t simply move past these incidents of hatred and neither can the people that are experiencing them firsthand. They have to be addressed in order to uphold the safety of people living in the UK, but also because this is an issue that affects people globally. These hate crimes shouldn’t inspire others to seek out to torment immigrants within their own country. Hopefully this awareness about these xenophobic incidents will create a dialogue and government officials will advocate more towards protecting their people.