This week we look at the work of Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) together with Unite in fighting racism. Today we look at how divide and rule tactics de-humanises immigrants
Immigrant ‘swarms’ are coming to take over our lands, steal our jobs, overwhelm our public services and destroy our way of life. Sound familiar? That’s because everyday people are subjected to the same de-humanising messages.
That’s why Unite and Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) are working together to dispel the myths around immigration and prevent the poison of prejudice spreading.
Britain and Europe are experiencing a resurgence of xenophobia and racism.
War and abject poverty are driving unprecedented numbers of people from Africa and the Middle East into Europe, fuelling fears sparked by the free movement of EU citizens – fears already inflamed by a glut of right-wing rhetoric.
“The current commentary on migrants, or humans as we’d prefer them to be known, is putting our work in greater demand because there is such confusion over the issue,” says SRtRC education worker and Unite member, Laura Pidcock.
“Immigrants are being used as a political pawn. Every single time someone that’s high profile, somebody that’s in power makes a negative statement about immigrants, I know for a fact it’ll be in the consciousness of young people and adults.
“It’s a drip, drip, drip effect on how the ideas of the ‘other’ are shaped.”
SRtRC welcomes discussion on what can be a problematic issue. But when debates on immigration began to be used to facilitate a dead end of mistrust and ignorance, they knew a response was needed.
With sponsorship from Unite, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants initiated the “I am an immigrant” poster campaign in public places across Britain, to challenge the negative rhetoric.
The two organisations also worked together to get much needed SRtRC education materials delivered to every school in Scotland and Wales.
The union is currently using its political clout to help get the same thing done in schools across England. This is especially important, says SRtRC chief executive Ged Grebby, to counter the “divide and rule” tactics of those who would exploit discourses around immigration for their own interests.
“There’s obviously elements of ignorance within why people are racist,” said Ged.
“But it’s something perpetuated by the system, and historically it’s very very clear the ruling classes have benefited by dividing the working classes. In that past it was by race but now they’re using immigration.”
A campaign has also been launched called This is My Home, to provide a platform to reflect the positive impact of immigration in the UK.
A Unite sponsored SRtRC film showing immigration in a positive light will shortly be released as part of the This is My Home campaign. SRtRC has also released seven film shorts exploring the issues of immigration and racism from the point of view of Scotland’s migrant community.
Unite members can get involved in the campaign on social media – under the hashtag #thisismyhome – and are encouraged to post videos, texts and pictures reflecting their positive experiences of immigration.
“Trade unions have always played a huge role within Show Racism the Red Card,” commented Ged.
“There’s a natural synergy in what we do. Unity is strength, and while racism is used as a tool to divide us, the trade union movement is built on solidarity.”
And when we stand together there is nothing we cannot defeat.