Image from Miqdaad Versi

Last week I wrote my post on the EU Remain/Leave Referendum and my angle was that not all vote Leavers were racists but all racists would Vote Leave. In this image is a compilation of tweets from people reporting racist incidents against EU citizens in the UK following the Leave vote in the Referendum.
It bears out, I think, my point about hostility to people from different countries being fundamental to the way many people voted. Racism has bubbled to the surface and become almost respectable. Don’t tell me that the vote was nothing to do with racism. There were other important factors, of course there were, but “take my country back,” or “take back control,” are dogwhistle terms. Many Leave voters seem to think that, having got their way, all EU citizens and British citizens of colour would be deported somewhere and they’d be left with an all white UK. And suddenly Germans, French, Italians have felt unwelcome in this country. Funny, that. But really not funny.
What surprises me, however, is the horrified reaction to these tweets combined with the disbelief on people’s faces, in people’s voices when I talk about some of the racism I have encountered in my life. None of this stuff is new. None of these attitudes is new. They have been there all the time except that people suddenly choose to be shocked when it’s directed against Europeans. What about the suffering of people of colour, British Citizens, whose families were invited as economic migrants to help rebuild the UK and its new infrastructure after World War II? Why are most people so willing to look away when we talk about that?
I am incensed at people’s sudden outrage. When my life was ruined by what was called ‘teasing’ at school, people told me not to take it seriously. When a colleague would pointedly use phrases such as tat everyday expression “Nigger in the woodpile,” in my presence, my boss suggested I take him out to lunch to talk about it in a civilised way. I’m not trivialising the incidents above against EU citizens in any way. They are shocking, of course, but why is racism suddenly horrific because it’s directed at white people?