As I sit here in Kos gazing out at a sparkling blue sea I am surrounded by beauty, not just beauty of the physical kind but the beauty of the people around me. Yet instead of basking in the beauty I have a slightly knotted frown. In the past few days I have not read much news, I have enjoyed swapping the BBC for Sophie Kinsella, I have swapped politics with chick lit and read two books in two days. I have switched off and only had access to wifi when sitting in the hotel reception.
Around the pool I listen in to conversations in Greek, German, French, Italian and English I listen to the words, the dialects, accents and I have been able to kid myself that inherently things haven’t changed. And then I catch glimpses on social media that reported hate crime has statistically jumped in the past few days.
Now I am not naive enough to think that a week ago all was fine with the UK and that hate crimes didn’t happen daily, but things have now shifted. I know the media will be amplifying their reporting- now is a great time for a political moral panic, I know that some will want to use this as a weapon to prove Brexit has changed us all, with others claiming this is nothing to do with racism and Brexit and that the two do not co-exist. But inside me I have a knot of anxiety that won’t go away.
On social media there is a campaign taking shape that urges us to wear a safety pin to show solidarity with ‘immigrants’. To show that we care. That we are safe to sit next to on a bus or train, and that we are safe to talk to. But are we really?
Why I won’t be wearing a safety pin any time soon
I won’t be wearing a safety pin because I don’t think we should be branding ourselves that we are friendly. It shouldn’t be a symbol on our t shirt. We need to show it through our actions. I understand the sentiment, I respect those who feel that this is making a show, a stand. But does that mean if I am not wearing the badge that I can’t be a safe face. Are we going to walk around in mistrust, scanning those tops looking for a symbol? I understand the wanting to show support, I myself have wondered whether I should be telling my Polish friends how I voted. I want to take my friends in my arms and look them in the eye and tell them it wasn’t me.
One of Erin’s best friends is Polish, she came not speaking a word of English aged 3 but that didn’t stop their friendship blossoming. They played before they could talk to each other and last weekend I watched them dance together on stage. But ultimately I guess they don’t need to look for a safety pin on my top, they know me. They probably can work out how I voted and what my beliefs are. They know that through my actions. Not just my actions of the past week but of the last three years.
Rather than wearing a pin to say we are not a danger we should be calling out those who are behaving like that. Brexit must not allow hate to grow, to allow far right views of hate and supremacy to grow while others remain silent. I don’t believe all the leave voters are racist, I can’t accept that because if I do I am believing that 52% of the voting population are simply idiots!
It is a time for us to condone those carrying out hate crimes publicly.
Rather than wear a safety pin can we not call out those we witness being racist, we need to stay strong and we need actions to speak louder than symbols. Be kind to those around you, show your strength and humility in actions and in your words. Do good wherever you can. Do not let hate win, hate is negative and we need to not just stand by and watch we need to speak up and bring peace in our actions. We can do this but by being louder than the haters. We make things better by being kind and showing it in every person we come across.