Is living far from home a pro- or a con- at times like this? I’m not sure but I think it’s a bit of both. I’m British and right now, I’m not exactly proud of that. I am clearly a left-wing liberal. I abhor what I’m seeing in my country (from a distance, I know): Brexit; the destruction of our beloved NHS; the vilification of anyone from a ‘less desirable’ country; the dismantling of our welfare state and a seeming rise of intolerance and racism. However, I also realise that I’m getting my news from the newspapers and that doesn’t necessarily give me a good flavour of the positive things going on. I am extremely proud to know that many of my friends are actively, and loudly, speaking out against racism and bigotry. I am proud to be supporting one or two of the crowd-funded legal challenges to Brexit too.
Intellectually I know good stuff is happening in the UK but emotionally (and fed by the press), it feels as if my country has fallen apart. Somehow we find ourselves with a leader most of us seem to despise who appears to have no respect for the rule of law, or any interest in working for the majority. I understand what has gone wrong in recent years to lead us to this point but I just don’t see how we reached the answer we did. How are Theresa May and her patently UKIP style politics the answer to despair and inequality?
And if we think things are bad in the UK, well, we just need to look to the USA to see that we’re really not alone! Yesterday they swore in an even more odious personality as their president. And today the world marched in protest. More people arrived in D.C. to protest than were at his inauguration. Around the world people joined together, united by a disgust for this man and all he stands for, for an opportunity to scream out loud that we do not accept his brand of politics, that we do not accept sexism, misogyny, racism, homophobia or the right of politics to tell a woman what to do with her body.
There were 673 solidarity marches or rallies around the world this weekend. Imagine that. Around the world, enough people were ready to put down their tv remotes and go out on to the streets to shout ‘no’. Enough of us have felt threatened and insulted by his campaign to make our disgust heard in the streets rather than by just reposting a witty meme on facebook.
I am sorry I wasn’t in London today, because, let’s face it, London marches in style! Instead, my family and I joined a group of about 500 in Merida, Mexico, to proclaim that we also don’t accept racism, intolerance and bigotry, that feminism WILL NOT be shushed away by a misogynist with power; we will not allow him to normalise sexism, homophobia or racism. No. No. No. No one will ever tell my daughter what she may do with her body, and no one will ever teach my son that it’s ok to belittle women. In the words of Madonna, ‘FUCK YOU’.
The Merida tone was entirely different from a UK march but it was still good to feel part of the bigger picture. We added our notes to a banner, let ourselves be counted among the world’s angry, met some nice people and had a great lunch (ahem, sorry, but rally was held in a good location, we couldn’t resist). I also got to talk some more with my kids about why we need to be angry and what it is we were saying NO to today.
So yeah, it’s good to be away from the epicentre of the shit-storm that is Brexit and the wanton desruction of our welfare-state. It gives me time to breathe and step away if I want to. I don’t have to worry about what I’d do if I saw some British thug attack an imigrant (I believe I’d step in, obv) and I’m thankfully not working in an underfunded VAWG sector at the moment but I’m also away from the beating heart of it all and that is hard. After so many years working for social justice, it’s a bit weird to be away. Today made me see that more than ever.
A big fat FUCK YOU to that man on his first full day in office. The man is chronically insecure and just wants public adoration.