Karissa Singh about racism after Brexit: „You will never be true British“

Karrisa Singh says Brexit Referendum bolsters racists. The Human Rights activist created #PostRefRacism. Since then dozens of people have reported racist abuse.

Women demonstrate in London to defend migrants rights.

„What is different following the referendum, however, is that the incidents of racism seem emboldened, unashamed and more direct.“ Foto: dpa

taz.de: Miss Singh, what triggered you to create #PostRefRacism?

Karissa Singh: On the Friday following Brexit my brother and I were harassed by a middle aged white man, who approached us while we were having a drink to tell us: “You will never be true British. When we voted leave we should have voted out to all you lot. I don’t care you think you’re here to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or whatever, just go back and do it in your own country“. This was in the middle of the day, in broad daylight, in a fairly crowded student bar. Following this I heard from several friends who had experienced similar incidents of racism – direct, unashamed and almost righteous in its expression. I decided to set up a space to document these aggressions, combat their normalization, and encourage people to call out such incidents. We will not allow racist narratives to be mainstreamed in British culture.

Have you ever been exposed to racism before the Brexit? What are the changes you have noticed since?

Yes, and I’m sure members of the ethnic minority communities in the UK will tell you that racism is not a new problem. Since the Brexit, however, the incidents of racism seem emboldened, unashamed and more direct. Whereas before someone might scream something and run, now people have no restraint in approaching you in public and verbally harassing you. They feel that the Brexit result is a vindication and validation of their racist views, and now feel more able to express these views without repercussions. What these people seem to have misunderstood that a democratic mandate for Brexit DOES NOT equal a mandate for racist aggression, harassment or intimidation; and does not legitimize or legalize terrible acts of racism against ethnic minority communities.

When and how did you realize that your experience was not a single case, but rather part of systematic racism linked to the Brexit? Did the extent of #PostRefRacism surprise you?

Following the incident with my brother, I heard several stories from friends and thought – this cannot be a coincidence. The victorious overtone of those early racist incidents we experienced Friday following the result underlined the link between the whole Brexit immigration narrative (“take back control, take back our country“) and the wave of racism. The response to the page did surprise and sadden me, as the fact it snowballed showed that this was something many people were experiencing across the UK.

23, has worked for the WHO and a Bolivian human rights organisation. She studied natural sciences and psychology at Cambridge University.

How many persons have contacted you with their stories of #PostRefRacism?

We are working on a way to organize our submissions, also in collaboration with the worrying signs page, so hope to have more specific figures soon. The police have reported a 57% increase in reported hate crimes compared with last week. These incidents are happening across the country, and the reports we are getting are mainly in urban areas, though this may be because those in urban areas are more likely to use twitter!

Is it possible and would you be willing to take the incidents you reported to court? Or do you see better ways of handling #PostRefRacism?

Whenever there is a legal case the incidents should be taken to the police, but this will need to be done by those directly affected by the incident. We are encouraging people to do that. We also want to encourage everyone to call out racism when they see it, to prevent it being normalized – that’s how PostRefRacism should be handled, with zero tolerance on all fronts.

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