Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Lifestyle | Dear Immigrants, You Are Very Welcome Here


Hello Lovelies! My mind recently has cast back to my childhood. It's a time I will remember fondly, because it is an era in my life where it felt like race, religion or whether you were an immigrant or not just didn't really matter. My primary school was mixed, with people of all colours, religion and backgrounds. In fact when people from other countries joined our school, it always felt like a good thing. I remember a French girl joining our class, and there was a flurry of excitement and curiosity. We were curious about France, about whether they really wore berets and carried baguettes, and if double cheek kissing really was the norm. It actually didn't even matter that her English wasn't the best, we cared more that she felt accepted and fitted in easily. Her broken English was just more motivation for us to help her fit in. 


I was only nine when we were called into our assembly hall and told London had been bombed. It was a moment when time froze, and you could hear a pin drop. No one cared about talking over teachers or misbehaving, because as we sat in that hall none of us really knew if our parents or our loved ones were safe. You realise in moments like that life isn't all about Pokemon cards, the drama of who someone has a crush on or the dilemma of too much homework. The world can be a very much darker and scarier place, and you realise that could so have easily been you on the train or on the bus. It was one of the most terrifying moments of my life. 

Following 7/7 we were taken on a school trip to a Mosque so that they could show us that Muslims were not terrorists and actually just like us. Looking back I realise just how strange this was. The woman taking us on the tour was somehow now given the burden of explaining that she did not want to kill us, and that the terrorism really had nothing to do with Islam. It was something at the time that felt like a given. Even when I was young, there was no part of me that equated Islam with terrorism, but even as I thought that, it was a time when attacks against muslims soared and hysteria was in the air. If I was a young girl with a headscarf I knew I was much more likely to get attacked on my way home, that was just how it was. 

During my early childhood, I had several Aupairs from around Europe. My favourite was the one that we had for the longest, a Romanian woman who became like a sister, and mother to me. She was hardworking, loving and had come to Britain for a better life. She is now happily married with three children, and I wonder how our next generation will treat them. In my lifetime I have watched the very meaning of what it means to be Romanian be demonised, stereotyped and torn apart. Apparently you should be scared when Romanians move next door, or at least on your guard. You just have to look at the media to see how the idea of being Romanian has been warped. 

When I reached secondary school, there was a rise in the BNP (British National Party), and a general fear that they would try and deport 50% of our classmates. It seems silly now considering that they would soon disappear into nothingness, but this was a genuine concern at the time. A lot of us really thought in our own naivety this would happen, and that the London that we knew and loved would fall apart. We were scared, genuinely scared. Scared that we would lose our friends, and that some of us would have to leave. Scared that being British would become synonymous with being white and Christian.

The strange thing is that we are constantly told that our Britain as we know it is at threat, that people want to come here and destroy our culture. But honestly now I feel disillusioned with what it means to be British. I can laugh and say it's all about judging people who make their tea the wrong way (milk first is just wrong!), how the Great British Bake Off is quintessentially the most British thing ever or how rain is pretty much our default weather. But when it all boils down and I wonder what it really means to be British, I hesitate to be proud now. We are a country that has built its culture from so many others, and grown and developed so much for that reason. We're also a country that has taken advantage of other countries, and grown as a result of taking from them. It makes it more tragic then that we should watch boats sink, and refugees die. They become statistics before they ever were people, because we are so afraid of what will happen when refugees 'swarm', 'flood ' and 'invade' our borders when they are just trying to survive. 

And the funny thing is that throughout my life, as a Londoner I've always felt lucky that so many people come to this country with aspiration and willing to do hard work. In fact you really don't have to look far to see inspiring examples of hard-working immigrants. Just look at our nurses, professors, businessmen, agricultural workers or even the cheery baristas who deal with me at 9am in the morning (no easy feat) and you will see how important immigration is to us. I feel like these days being aspirational and coming to this country to do hard work has been demonised. Honestly, I think we don't really realise nowadays how important immigration is for this country. So many of my friends and the people I love are immigrants, or children of immigrants, so I wonder how we've got to a point where immigration has become a dirty word. As a girl who is a Londoner born and bred, there is no place I love more than London. It is a city of so many cultures, languages and people and honestly it's a beautiful thing to behold. There is a feeling like you can be anyone and you'll have a chance. 

I'm just a 20 year old girl, standing in front of the world, hoping that it changes because you know what if you come here, and you love this country and you take it as your home, then you are as much of a Brit as me. There are people in this country who will say horribly racist things, and threaten others because they 'don't fit in' but I just wanted you to know that I'm here with open arms, and welcome you. 

If you've reached this far then thank you for hanging on. I'm not sure I can really articulate quite how I feel on this subject, but this is my attempt. My heart has really broken over the past few days, so I hope that I've at least somewhat conveyed how I feel on the subject. Immigrants, you are loved. 

SHARE:

3 comments

  1. This is such a lovely and important post, Vicky!
    I, myself, am an immigrant. Not in England, but I still know what it means to feel not welcome. People like you are so important. Without people like you, I'd probably have left already looking for another place to live in even though I like living here.
    So, yeah, thanks a lot for writing this! I hope your open-minded attitude will inspire others as well.
    <3

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautiful. This kind of post is so inspirational to read and living in London also I completely understand and am frustrated by the way the word 'imigrant' is used as a negative thing in England to protect our so called 'culture'

    Morgan | www.justmorgs.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. this is great! Thanks for this! I am an immigrant and despite the hate we've bee seeing on the news lately, I know there are people who genuinely appreciate the work we do as well as understand why we are here. We wanted a better life for ourselves and we are thankful that this country has allowed us to build one!
    Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for your comments, I love reading them and will be sure to visit your blog soon :) have a lovely day!

Blogger Template Created by pipdig