On Friday the 24th of June I woke up anxiously and felt there was an impending sense of possible doom (you know that kind you have as a child hoping Santa has actually come and not forgotten about you). I switched on the TV and was greeted by a grinning face that didn’t mirror my own, and then that impending sense of doom took over me like a shower of rocks.
The UK has voted to leave the EU, I couldn’t believe it.
I was generally shocked to my core; Santa had definitely missed me off the list this year! My mind became a wash of negative and pessimistic thoughts. What does this mean? What will happen to the arts? Will I lose my job? Is our country racist? We will lose arts funding! We will be forced to revoke our passports! We will never be able to travel Europe!? Why does Santa hate me?!… You get the Idea!
My heart was racing, it’s one of those once in a lifetime feelings you get, when you know this will be a part of history and that this will be talked about for generations to come, and people ask, “Where were you when it happened? What were you doing?” Rolling out of bed thinking of Christmas 6 months early to answer that. But seriously, this will be known as a monumental day that will shape the history of our country.
As the dust settled I started to consider the actual ramifications of the decision and how people are reacting. Based on my Facebook feed there was a lot of negativity, a lot of my circle were “gutted”, “heartbroken” and “in disbelief” but there were some who were “elated”, “best day ever”, “time to take back control” and “that’s shut people up!” This is when it suddenly dawned on me and realised the most serious ramification of this vote: Our country is becoming divided between perceived winners and perceived losers of the vote. Due to the vote being so close (52%-48% in favour of leave), our country, for the first time in my lifetime is completely split down the middle 50/50 on a subject most are extremely passionate about. In the few days that followed, social media was buzzing with debate, buzzing with discussion and something that saddens me, it was buzzing with hate.
This is the first time I have seen so many people from all walks of life discussing politics so openly, friends and family members disagreeing openly with each other, which is amazing! In a country where politics is deemed confusing and out of touch, this was people in their own way having open dialogue about politics! Progress.
Now I have to address the hate… in the days that followed my social media feeds were giving birth to tales of hate crimes, to xenophobic rhetoric and acts of racism. As a mixed race man growing up in the most diverse multicultural city, Birmingham, this breaks my heart, it truly does. I walked into the Beatfreeks office on Monday morning full of gloom. Not knowing the direction my future was going to take. Then it changed.
We discussed the divisions, we discussed the hate, we discussed the only thing that can keep us together is hope!
And as cheesy or cliché as it sounds, its true! Hope is the only thing that unites every single human being together whatever our background, race or religion, we can all believe in hope. We can all relate to the Idea of hope. As a city, we cannot let this decision divide us, we must think about progression and how we can work together regardless of how we voted. The decision has been made, it’s up to us to not be divided. My name is Jay and I’m the latest addition to the Beatfreeks team, and I believe in hope… and Santa.
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Beatfreeks brought together 40+ people who are frustrated and ashamed with the surge in hate crime and racist language and actions as a result of the referendum result. Whether you were to brexit or to bremain, let’s refuse to let people be marginalised by hurtful and hateful actions. We want to create a Anti-Hate Crime Toolkit. A simple, useable, immediate and proactive toolkit to help ALL people overcome and deal with hateful activity and also raise their awareness levels to not fall into blaming and shaming. You can still contribute to this toolkit. Post links, ideas, thoughts and more in this Facebook group.