World In View: UK’s present racism

May 9, 2018

From the May-June 2018 issue of News & Letters

In April, Prime Minister Theresa May and her Conservative government were forced to apologize for the racist persecution of lifelong British citizens who couldn’t produce the required documents. The government has also admitted that some of those documents were destroyed.

Those victimized by immigration authorities included elderly Caribbean-born citizens who came to Britain with their parents, who were invited to fill labor shortages following the Second World War.

In recent years, before and after the racist Brexit vote, anti-immigrant hostility has resulted in harassment of those applying for healthcare, or opening bank accounts. Many have been denied their rights as citizens and forced into detention centers.

UK paper The Guardian ran a series of high-profile exposes on these cases: Paulette Wilson, 61, made homeless and threatened with deportation; Michael Braithwaite, 66, fired as a special needs teacher; and a man who was denied cancer treatment.

David Lammy, a Black Labour Party Member of Parliament, gave a blistering speech on this “day of national shame…Let us call it as it is: if you lay down with dogs you get fleas, and that is what has happened with this Far Right rhetoric in this country.”

Younger people were also affected, like Irene Kaali, 24, whose parents immigrated from Tanzania. She said, “There is an issue in terms of how they classify someone as British. It says you have to have lived here up until you were 10 years old, have to have not left the country for more than five years, and last you have to be of ‘good character.’ It almost feels like that’s a sneakily vague thing they put in so they can decide at their discretion who they deem to be British or not.”

—Gerry Emmett



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