Well, we’ve come down to the valley,
Yeah, we’re looking for the honey.
I see a rainbow- I said, “That’s the land of milk and honey”
Me and my cousin,
Me and my brother,
Our little sister too…
We’re going looking for a rainbow.
I’ve seen plenty of my friends articulate exactly what the results of Thursday’s referendum on UK membership of the EU means to them. And while I can’t speak for experiences as someone with a foreign spouse, or as someone who’s moved here from elsewhere in Europe, I can talk about how I’m feeling at the moment.
I grew up on the Yorkshire coast. Wikipedia tells me that the current ethnic makeup there is 97.5% white. That sounds about right. As an area of ethnic diversity, it wasn’t exactly cosmopolitan. I’m not saying that there’s a problem intrinsically with that (though I do remember some racist bullying at school). It’s just fact.
After I left home, I went to university in Manchester. For two years I lived in Rusholme, right off the curry mile. As a district it couldn’t have been much further from the place I’d lived for the vast majority of the previous two decades. People of all faiths and nationalities, living beside each other and for the most part getting on perfectly well. After I left university I went to work for a small company, with clients across Europe and a few further afield
Then I came to London. Working for a startup with global ambitions, and then two large international companies. I can talk to my colleagues in India and China in the morning, and Canada and the US in the afternoon. Every now and then Australia comes into the mix too. And that’s before I’ve even discussed the rainbow of nationalities I come across every time I go to the office in the morning.
I listen to Canadian and West-coast American music. I eat food made in Indian, Chinese and Mexican traditions among others, and drink beer made from New Zealand hops. I have friends and co-workers from pretty much every part of the planet. I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t see myself as a citizen of the UK so much as the world. And the thing that’s upset me the most over the past few days is discovering that there are so many people in my country that don’t share my worldview.
People that insist that the UK is full, who aren’t interested in learning about different cultures. Who post racist graffiti, who claim to “just be saying what we’re al thinking”. Who stand outside the tube station draped in the Union Flag and cheering at the fact that the entire country and future has been plunged into a state of disarray and whose pensions just lost a huge chunk of their value. Who rail against difference because they don’t know any better and don’t want to learn.
Truth be told, I don’t know how I feel about the UK any more. Right now, I don’t feel like it’s the place I thought it was, or wanted it to be. And I don’t know if it’s even possible to turn it into the place it by all rights should be.