In her first biweekly column for Media Diversified, Ava Vidal discusses rising aggression on our streets as Brexit approaches, choosing your battles and whether the left is really in your corner when it’s time to defend yourself
Welcome to my first regular column for Media Diversified! We’re only one week into 2019 and the “let’s be positive” and “I’m going to work on me” posts and energy have all but disappeared from most people’s social media timelines. People are still arguing whether it’s fair to demonise R Kelly for abusing young black women when white men are also doing it and getting away with it. Sigh.
This is not the way I pictured 2019 would be when I was younger. I thought we’d all be living as though we were in an episode of The Jetsons by now. And although we can switch our lights on and off by clapping or just using our voices (if we have the money to install that kind of technology), I didn’t count on Alexia existing alongside a world that seems to being embracing fascism again. We have all seen the rise of white nationalism in the US under their President and White-Nationalist-in-Chief Donald Trump and it seems as though our own home-grown thugs want to turn the streets of Britain into a warzone using Brexit and the Leave campaign as an excuse to stir up feelings of hatred.
And no one is going to be more vulnerable in these times than those amongst us who are visible minorities. Many of us have shared our experiences with increased hostility and rising racist aggression since the Leave campaign commenced. I spoke out about this on Channel 4 News in 2016 and I am far from the only one to have done so.
” I recently wrote about racism amongst the white left in this country and many of them took it badly. They spent days in my Twitter mentions telling me why I was wrong whilst proving that I wasn’t”
Seeing the disturbing scenes of some Leave voters surrounding Anna Soubry as she tried to make her way into Parliament should have been a wake up call to those still doubting us. Aggressive men calling her a “traitor” and other names for daring to have a different political opinion to theirs surrounded her. The police just standing on the other side of the road and not feeling the need to intervene was simply baffling. I also saw a video of Owen Jones being harassed in a similar way. These people are feeling empowered and even the presence of cameras no longer seems to deter them.
But don’t look to the left wing in this country to protect you. I recently wrote about racism amongst the white left in this country and many of them took it badly. They spent days in my Twitter mentions telling me why I was wrong whilst proving that I wasn’t.
I looked at some of the reactions online to the increased hostility that we can no longer deny that is happening on the streets of Britain, and I was absolutely staggered. There were many tweets chastising certain sections of the left for their reaction to what they deemed to be rude, uncaring or mean responses. And before anyone starts, no I won’t be linking to these tweets because I don’t have any desire to bully or cause a “pile on”. We’ve all seen the kind of responses that I am about to describe:
“Hey Guys do you think it’s fair to laugh at a Nazi’s spelling?”
Well yes, I do. Because if you don’t see the irony in screaming about all things English and you can barely speak or write the language I reserve the right to laugh at you.
“Hey there is no need to call Nigel Farage names like ugly. Let’s not body shame him!”
Nigel Farage has personally been responsible for the recent shift to the right in British politics and has boasted about having done so many times. He was one of the prominent voices in the Leave campaign in which he lied to the British public over and over again. He has gone around the world meeting with other white supremacists such as Donald Trump and the Le Pen family. He is still trying to influence the public over Brexit and has been given a show on LBC to allow him to continue to do so
This man has been platformed on every single mainstream political show on both television and radio. I believe him to be one of the most dangerous men in UK politics. So forgive me if I couldn’t care less if someone asks why the hell he seems to have 58 teeth whilst everyone else has 32.
“This isn’t one of those “hasn’t political correctness gone mad!” pieces. It is more one of “choose your battles”. We are living in extremely tense time”
“Do you think it’s OK to shame adult men for living at home with their mothers?”
Nope. If you’re a grown man that wants to sit in your mother’s house calling women whores on the internet then I’m not going to spend time worrying about the lack of job opportunities in your area. Because if he was that concerned, he’d be on monster.co.uk instead of on Twitter abusing women.
This isn’t one of those “hasn’t political correctness gone mad!” pieces. It is more one of “choose your battles”. We are living in extremely tense times and if the thing that troubles you most is someone “body shaming” Farage on Twitter then I envy you.
My childminder is Polish and had to comfort her nine year old child who was pushed around the playground while the words “Polish Slag!” were chanted at her over and over again. We’ve seen the horrific video of a Syrian refugee being viciously attacked. Muslim children as young as 8 have been questioned by counterterrorism officers. We’ve all seen the constant vilification of trans people in the mainstream media.
My advice to all minorities including sexual minorities is to not slack on the new health and exercise regime that was part of your New Year Resolutions list. And if it wasn’t on your list, I suggest that you add it now. Work on that right hook cause you can’t rely on the left to help you.
Ava Vidal is a stand-up comedian, journalist and author. She has appeared on TV and radio including shows such as Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, BBC Radio 4′ s News Quiz and BBC Two’s Mock the Week.Follow @thetwerkinggirl