This post was going to hinge on the cracking floral mid-skirt you see in these photos – I found last time we were in the UK, isn’t it pretty etc. – but then the results of the EU referendum came in and since then I’ve had trouble thinking about much else.
Ten days on and it’s certainly easier, but the night we heard (Thursday 23rd, due to the time difference) I honestly felt crushed. That feeling continued for several days, like a gloomy cloud hanging over our apartment (not to mention my Facebook and Twitter feeds) and as the dust of this monumental decision settles, I feel compelled to write about it.
In June there was an exhibition in San Francisco that focused on the idea of non-native species, both in the sense of animals and plant life, but also the impact of people and the changes that the city has gone through since the rise and rise of Silicon Valley companies. The topic made me uneasy as I’m ‘non’native’ – I’m not a US citizen and I understand that by moving here for a tech-related job we were contributing to the ever-changing social and economic fabric of San Francisco.
We are immigrants. Not the kind that get splashed across the Daily Mail, who are falsely accused of taking jobs and your place in line to see your GP, but the kind that I’d bet most immigrants are – hardworking, tax paying people who are excited to explore and take advantage of the opportunity to live abroad.
I haven’t had one conversation with a ‘leave’ supporter that hasn’t touched on the subject of immigration or used buzzword-laden phrases like ‘they’re taking all our jobs’ or ‘we need to take back control’. I wonder how many votes were decided by raw emotions and how many were by facts. When first digesting the news, I convinced myself that the issue was generational. Sadly it’s not necessarily because older generations voted to leave, but because they turned out to vote in the first place. I sympathise with the 16 and 17 year olds who were unable to vote, but I’m also frustrated that the turnout of 18-25 year olds was so low.
Mostly, I’m saddened by the concern that this result was born in part out of ignorance or xenophobia. I understand that that’s absolutely not the case for every ‘leave’ voter, but the rise in reports of racist slurs and hate crimes in the UK in the last few days has been unsettling to say the least. Top that with the referendum-motivated death of MP Jo Cox – and that Nigel Farage made the incredibly insensitive comment that the result was won ‘without a single bullet being fired’ – and the whole situation just tastes so sour.
Most of the time I try to see the silver lining in every situation, but right now it doesn’t feel like there is anything ‘great’ or ‘united’ about us.