Speak Out Against Racism, Discrimination & Xenophobia
We cannot afford not to speak out.
Today, Saturday 9th June 2018, Lewisham Anti-Racist Group in conjunction with Lewisham Islamic Centre held a rally called Lewisham Together: United Against Islamophobia, Racism and Fascism.
I was invited to speak at the rally, and agreed to because I believe that we have to stand, united against any form of racism and discrimination, whenever we see it, and in whatever form it takes. As soon I knew I would be speaking at the event it was clear to me the message that I wanted to share was why I wanted to be there.
I want us to us to continue and strengthen our resolve to speak out against Racism and Discrimination where ever we see it and in whatever form it takes.
I wanted to show solidarity with others who face racism and discrimination, and share my message that it is important for us to speak up, and to speak out for one another.
I believe that racism and discrimination against one, is racism and discrimination against all. We cannot operate separately in silos, we must join together and we must speak for one another. Speak out against hatred, racism and discrimination whenever we see it and it whatever form it takes.
My speech – We Must Speak Out For Each Other:
“It’s great that so many of us are here today, but conversely, it’s terrible that we have to be here in 2018. That we the people of Lewisham along with our family and friends have to come together and make a stand to show we will not tolerate any form of racism or xenophobia.
Right now, there is a right-wing candidate that think that is OK to stand, that it’s ok to pedal lies, to encourage islamophobia.
Let me share with you why I’m here today. I’m here because I think it is important for all of us to stand united against hatred, to be united against any form of racism and discrimination. Whether it is islamophobia, anti-semitism, xenophobia, whether it’s against Black, disabled, LGBT+, immigrants, refugees. We must stand together, and we must speak out.
We have seen an increase in racism and xenophobia since the EU Referendum, words that people think have now been given free range to be said aloud.
But we must show solidarity no matter how hard or how uncomfortable we must speak up for each other.
There is a short but appropriate poem by a German Pastor, Martin Niemöller. It tells us why we must call out racism and discrimination where ever we see it. It first began to circulate in the early 1950’s but I am going to take the liberty and extend it a little to bring it up to 2018. (my addition in italics) It goes:
First, they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Muslims, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Muslim
Then they came for the Windrush generation, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not of the Windrush generation.
Then they came for the immigrants, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not an immigrant.
Then they came for the refugees, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a refugee.
Then they came for me —
and there was no one left to speak for me.
We cannot afford not to speak out. It’s not always easy but we must, whether it is on a bus, a train, in a shopping queue, if you’re not brave enough to speak to, comfort, be a witness for the victim of the abuse.
I want us to us to continue and strengthen our resolve to speak out against Racism discrimination where ever we see it and in whatever form it takes.
I was one of many who attended that day, and it was great that so many if us were there that day: Vicky Foxcroft MP, Mayor Damien Egan, Councillors: Joe Dromey, Tauseef Anwar, Aisling Gallagher, Sakina Sheikh, John Paschoud, Jacq Paschoud, Layo Gibbons-Plowright, Caloline Kalu, and Silvana Kelleher as well as so many Lewisham Labour members. Some of whom where instrumental in helping to organise this event, and a special thank you to Rich who first emailed to invite me.