Following the worrying increase in race and hate incidents following the EU referendum results on Friday 24th June 2016, Inspire Co-director Kalsoom Bashir writes about the importance of rallying together to ensure hatred does not win. Orginally published by the Bristol Post on July 3rd 2016:
Hope can overcome hatred in post-Brexit Britain
Trepidation is in the air following the Brexit vote. Over the past few days, social media has become awash with sickening stories of incidents that show how some have taken the result as a license to unleash pent up frustrations, prejudice and hatred towards those that they see as the ‘other’.
We have seen incidents of women abused in the street simply because they speak a language other than English or are easily identifiable as Muslim or Asian. Businesses have also been targeted by vandals, and incidents of physical assault by youths have been published online.
It is not surprising then that after a few days I ventured out around my neighbourhood expecting to evoke the same feelings of fear and uncertainty that I felt in the 1970s growing up as a British Pakistani while members of the right-wing National Front were marching in cities across the country. I expected to see that the world had changed – I was uplifted to see that it had not.
Not far from where I live, I encountered a neighbour who gave me a hug and some cake to share with my family. Another offered me home grown vegetables from her garden, while another waved to me as he left for work. This is the city of Bristol where I have lived and worked for over 30 years, and it fills me with great hope to see the strong sense of community spirit remains alive and well.
Hope comes from seeing the pupils of local primary schools going out onto the streets to share random acts of kindness in the hope of bringing happiness to those they meet. It comes from young people giving out flowers, wishing passers by a good day and putting inspirational notes inside library books for readers to find.
It comes in the form of a local shop displaying a bucket of roses and inviting immigrants to take one. It comes in the form of a Bristol mosque, so humbled by the support they received from the local community after being the target of a hate crime that they hosted an afternoon tea party to show gratitude to those who helped them in their hour of need – needless to say, the event was packed out.
These are just some of the many examples of people in our communities coming together and standing united against those that are attempting to sow the seeds of division. By rallying together, we weaken hatred.
We are often confronted with things we cannot control. However, it is our reaction to these events that will define us. We can choose the positive option, reach out to those around us, and by doing so deter hate; like the good deeds done by the children, like the flowers offered by the shopkeeper, and the cake offered to me by my neighbours. Ultimately, it starts with us.