Brexit: How Discrimination Can Happen Overnight

by elodiegerard on September 13, 2016 - 9:29pm

As I was searching for a recent news article in link with racism, I fell on an article that talked about the referendum that passed last June to separate Britain from the European Union (also known as Brexit). As a result, 52% voted to leave the union and the main reason why they voted to leave is because they wanted to see a reduction in immigration (Brian Wheeler, 2016, p. 33). The article talks about people that are part of the European Union and live in Britain, are being discriminated since the referendum.

This situation relates to Jared Diamond’s view of the human classification: “[…] it shapes our views of other peoples, fosters our subconscious differentiation between “us” and them”, and is invoked to justify political and socioeconomic discrimination.” (Jared Diamond, 1994, 6). His view of human classification exactly describes how eastern Europeans feel right now, for example, Albi a 68 years’ old who is from Czechoslovakia but is a Britain citizen since 30 years is now being asked when he is going to leave the country from fellow citizens (Sarah Marsh, 2016, 26). Even after being a citizen for 30 years, he is still considered as an immigrant that does not deserve to live in “their” country. What used to be “us” became “them” and many others are living the same kind of discrimination since that big political change.

Another point that Diamond talks about is how the appearance of someone (color of skin, hair, eye and body shape) plays a role in our sexual and social preferences (Jared Diamond, 1994, 33). He also says that it can have an “[…] overwhelming importance in our social prejudices.” (Jared Diamond, 1994, 33). That being said, people from the European Union that live in Britain are being insulted and threatened so they prevent themselves from speaking their mother tongue in public because it is different from theirs. (Sarah Marsh, 2016, 15). As for Tee, a 22-year-old immigrant that lives in London says: “I look and sound British, so luckily I haven’t experienced any racism.” (Sarah Marsh, 2016, 10). This sentence proves that people are ready to conform to be accepted, some are even ready to hide their true selves in order to live a “normal” life. Seeing all the power that social prejudices has on the population makes me really uncomfortable and sad because it creates bad living conditions for those who used to be happy.

Jared Diamond’s article “Race Without Color”, is explaining very well the concept of race and how bias and non-constant it can be. Also, Brexit is a very recent subject that demonstrates without a doubt, how racism can be easily created because of all the social prejudices that people have. As soon as the vote passes, people that are part of the European Union and that are living in Britain are now seen as a racial minority. Given these points, it becomes hard to define “race” because how can you be part of a society and be seen as equal but that as soon as some politics change, you can be seen as a racial minority. If laws can make that many changes overnight, why does our government not do the same by imposing laws against racism?

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