Poetry | Immigrant

immigrant

 

I am
Immigrant
Fresh off the plane
A top my mother’s lap in Major’s England
Roots set down in North London estates
Promised better than the dustbowl of a Pacific Island upbringing
Better among suburban middle class
Blazing through Blair’s education system
A model minority, paying taxes 
Oh, she is just like us

I am not like you
I am an immigrant
Forever reaping the benefits of passing
Barely passing
Yet somehow, always passing

A foothold in my heritage
Uncertain to speak out
Am I coloured? Or does my light skin betray the confusion I feel?
Please don’t be fooled by my clipped Queen’s English
My 20 year strong citizenship is a comfort to you?
I have a taste for taste for tea and Sunday roast dinners and can eat rice everyday
It’s ok

She can stay

Have I betrayed my fellow immigrant?
As they precariously sway on boats in Calais
They are ‘they’
But again, she can stay
I am here to work
To earn for Queen and country
I know no other country as well as the UK
Nationalist
Loyalist
Loyal to my country
Be proud of your roots, they say

They other me from them
But I am one of them
I am an immigrant
I say

*I wrote this piece way before the results on Thursday’s referendum, but thought it would be a good idea and good timing to post it today in the wake of the Brexit.

What shakes me most after everything that’s happened more than the economic fallout, more than political unrest, more than the dumb memes and jokes, is the racist and bigoted rhetoric being used against immigrants and people of colour. Trade agreements may take two years, getting a new PM in place may take till October, people are saying ‘Oh it’s all over now, let’s stop banging on about it, but the hatred is here now and it’s louder than ever. It’s being shouted in the streets, written out on placards and whispered behind the backs of hardworking citizens – some of whom have actually been living, working, and paying into this country for decades. People who have come to this country to seek better in what they thought was a tolerant nation already feel unwelcome and are questioning their place in a country they thought they thought they were safe and accepted in. I know. I’ve seen it. I’ve witnessed it first hand.

You may say this campaign was not targeted at me, to not take it personally.

Well, to that I say. I am British, but I am also an immigrant. And a damn well proud one at that.

And if you strike one of us, it’s a blow for us all.

If you are a UK resident can I urge you sign petitions for a second referendum, to keep lobbying your MPs, march on and keeping fighting intolerance and anti-immigration rhetoric. We can make Britain great again if we stand together against hate.

Ria

  • Stunning poem, Ria. Wow.
    Even for me, for us, way down here in NZ, it’s been so painful watching the updates stream in on the news, and watching things unravel online. I can’t even imagine what it’s like there at the moment. You’ve put this wonderfully, and once again I’m in awe at both your writing and your passion, and your want for speaking out.

  • I’m still reeling from the result and I’m not British or European so I can only imagine how you guys must feel over there right now. Even though it doesn’t directly affect me, it’s shown how xenophobia and racism has overcome all kinds of common sense and it’s not a good sign of how things are in the world right now. Stay safe and take care of yourself Ria!

  • Toast Rack

    Great poem. I keep hoping this is all a dream but I guess we’ve just got to keep calm and carry on. I would feel so much better about the result if it hadn’t lead to all the racism we’ve witnessed in the past few days. It’s truly disgusting and makes me ashamed to be British. Immigration is not a bad thing. Personally I have my life to thank for it. Here’s to standing together against racism.