I feel like I have to rebuild who I am again. I had to build a new identity for myself when I left religion and no longer believed in God, who I was was torn down, I was shattered for good reason, I was an unkind and inhumane person because of religion.
On Friday, Britain voted to leave the EU and I feel like a bulldozer just came in and wrecked my freshly painted little safe haven of self that I had built. I had started to fix the cracks and making sure that all those parts of me that are still damaged from before were better now.
I have not felt this upset in a long time and I spent most of this weekend drinking to forget it. But now, that I have sobered up and have had time to absorb, I still feel just as much in shock as I did on Friday.
By voting to leave, Britain has legitimised racism.
We have legitimised harassment of foreigners.
We have legitimised xenophobia.
We have legitimised a dangerous form of nationalism that I hate.
People who embraced this country as home and felt welcome here are now fearful for their future. They are being abused by people who feel that the vote to leave meant we want foreigners to leave.
I am furious. Furious at the stupidity of those who have voted leave. By voting leave you have sent the message that you are not interested in being part of Europe and the wider world, that you do not like difference, that you do not like diversity, that you hate it and that you just want to be surrounded by those who look like you, talk like you and think like you. Nothing good comes from xenophobic tribalism and isolation.Xenophobic people who voted leave, I am one of those people you hate. I am different to you. Yes I have a British passport but that doesn’t make me like you. I was born in the Falkland Islands, I have lived in Northern Ireland, France, Burkina Faso, Mexico, Scotland and England. I speak French, Spanish and English. I embrace and love difference. I have felt more European than British for a while.
If you want immigrants to leave you to your bubble of hate then you better tell me to leave too. Tell any of my friends who are immigrants to leave and I will shout you down, revealing you to be the xenophobic that you are.
I have heard many say it is not about race. Yes, fine it wasn’t about race. It was about nationalism and those who voted to leave feel Britain can be great without Europe. We will never be a Great Britain until we embrace the rest of the world, reject nationalism, reject hatred, reject xenophobia and build relationships with people who are different, who will challenge us, who will make us think in a way our culture has not taught us to think. We have lost so much this weekend. We have lost ourselves.
I am ashamed to be from Britain this weekend. I have been ashamed to be from Northern Ireland for a long time, I cannot fully identify with a country that does not allow women to have full control over their bodies, kills each other over religion and will not allow people of the same sex who deeply love each other to marry. And now, I no longer feel that I fit here in England, which I mistakenly thought was more progressive than Northern Ireland. Now, I am considering my options, but what option do I have? There is no true safe haven of progressive thinking in the world. Nowhere without the people who hold on to regressive views. Nowhere we can all truly be ourselves and be kind to each other.
When I think about it, my only real option is to stay and fight this. To stay and fight for those who are different.
Britain has outed itself as a closet xenophobic and it is time to change the minds of those who have brought themselves out.