I still can’t believe it. I feel like I got sucked into a parallel universe where Britain ACTUALLY voted to exit Europe. What?
Quick disclaimer: I normally don’t do politics. I feel it’s a massive charade played by people in power. I have no snazzy numbers, big words or political education to back up this blog post. All I know is that I have been living in the UK for 15 years now as an German expat and the morning of the 24.6. felt really weird! For the first time in my white, male, privileged middle class life did I feel like some people didn’t want me in their country. What?
I assume each one of you, my dear readers, have currently your own discussions about the situation going on your Facebook page. Seeing my friends argue back and forth as the situation unfolds really put a couple of points to my attention that I’d like to talk about in this blog post.
But first let’s rewind the clock and start at the beginning of my love affair with Britain.
I guess my first exposure with British culture must be James Bond. Back in the days of NO INTERNET AND THREE TV CHANNELS the adventures of the British master spy put down the blueprint of Britishness in my head: Traditional, eccentric and with a cheeky streak of taking the piss but getting away with it…
Next stop: 1990! German HipHop is just emerging and Britain and France are leading the charge emancipating the artform from America and putting their own spin on it. Especially British Hardcore bands like Gunshot, Silver Bullet, HiJack and Killa Instinct really influenced early German Rap. Still have that Killa Instinct 12″ in my collection… bless!
Now enjoy some German Britcore from 1992 by legendary crew ReadyKill from my hometown of Hamburg… ahhh memories!
As my love for rap grew and WITHOUT THE INTERNET IN EXISTENCE I had to find ways to stay up to date with what’s happening. HHC aka HipHop Connection published in the UK was my first point of call and I became a dedicated reader. Fun fact: HHC was already in operation when The Source was just making their first baby steps in the US. Woha… First!
Another massive influence on me was the Monty Python crew. When my local TV startion N3 showed re-runs of the old episodes in the English original version I was glued to the telly: The Pythons really took all the British stereotypes and infused them with a heavy dose of surreal humor. My mind was blown! Somehow Germany always felt too safe, middle class and blant to me and the eccentricity displayed by the British really appealed and struck a chord.
When I started studying Graphic Design and my record collecting obsession was at it’s peak, all the things I were into at the time came from across the channel: MoWax, NinjaTunes, TheFace, Rave Music…
While a lot of my friends who went to the USA on school exchanges came back as Gangsta Rappers and B-Ballers, the UK was really my spiritual home for music, style and club culture.
Around 2000 I had the chance to do a study semester abroad and I was very lucky to get accepted into Central St.Martins in London. I still remember how I stood outside the massive school building in Holborn with a coffee and a Pret A Manger bag in hand, thinking to myself: “Oh yeah…!”.
So I never left!
I loved the diversity of the people I studied with, the passion each person invested in their work, the creative competition and the energy that was created by traditional Britain with their bowler hats and Saville Row suits rubbing against the grime of the working class and the drugged up club kids.
London for me was always this crazy melting pot where the whole world came together to exist alongside each other. What impressed me as well was how immigrant culture fused with British lifestyle. Whilst in Germany Turks and Germans stayed quite separate until recent, I was impressed how Indian or Jamaican citizens were reppin’ Britishness, adding their own flavour and becoming part of the nation’s DNA and cultural heritage.
And I feel this is what makes this Brexit thing so weird and emotional. It just doesn’t feel right. Disconnection and London just doesn’t work in my head.
But this is where the issue lies: London is not really Britain. And even London has had it’s fair share of unrest and violent clashes.
If I really felt the Brexit would benefit the British people I would support it. But what I see is is a PM that put the Brexit out there to keep himself in power, gambling that nobody will call his bluff. Well, they did!
I see people like Farage and media outlets like The Sun fanning the hate and anger against Immigrants, yet I feel the real issue is politicians failing their voters and the unchecked greed of the industry and banking system.
I feel what this vote showed is that you can’t sit on your high liberal horse and ignore the concerns of people who live in more rural parts of the country. You can’t just shut opinions down, even when they make you uncomfortable and you don’t agree with them. Because if you don’t listen to them, somebody else will and use all the emotion and anger for their own agendas.
What frustrates me is that although we made such advances in human rights and growing more loving and accepting of each other, people like Trump and Farage can still get so many angry people behind them. I blame the lack of compassion and attention by the so called ‘educated left’ who failed to make sure everybody in the country is onboard and doesn’t feel left behind.
It’s a joke that a Capitalist like Trump can be successful in pretending to be a friend of the working class whilst he would be the first guy to outsource production to China if it makes his profit margins bigger. Well, there used to be this Austrian guy who could convince a whole country that the ideal is to be blond and blue eyed whilst he himself looked like the total opposite. Wrap your head around that one!
Humans are tribal and emotional and we need to accept that. People want to feel safe and supported. And they will follow leaders who promise these things, even when the facts don’t match up. Because it’s not about facts, it’s about feels.
In order to keep negative sides of the human condition like fear and anger at bay we need to be more aware of staying compassionate and inclusive and make EVERYBODY in the country feel listened to and respected, no matter what the opinion. Just waving stats into peoples faces does nothing.
The Anti Brexit campaign failed to capture people’s hearts because it was based too much on threats. And knowing the British with their stiff upper lip, this was the absolute wrong path to take. A bit like when you were a kid and you jumped into the puddle of mud just because your mom forbid it and you wanted to piss her off.
So in that aspect I can understand the Brexiters. It was a big FUCK YOU to Cameron and the European Status Quo. The tragedy is that exiting Europe will not fix their perceived problems.
So my plea would be to not have frustration and aggression take over and to stay open and compassionate. It’s the only way to keep all this ignorance and manipulation at bay. Calling people names is not helping changing minds and hearts. So although we might be angry and pissed off, let’s try to stay positive and inclusive and make our opinion heard in a positive and inspiring way!
Because after all…