OPINION: UEL’s early learning senior lecturer Francesca Zanetta knows that unity can beat racism

PUBLISHED: 08:00 15 March 2017


European migrants living in Newham and around the UK assembled on February 20 for One Day Without Us.

This was a day of action which celebrated the richness of our diverse country and the importance of taking a stand against the rise in street-level racism and xenophobia which has occurred since the Brexit referendum. Some people wore a badge or shared a moment of unity in their workplaces, but a large number of supporters took part in one of over 124 events around the country.

In London, Newham residents and others gathered outside the Houses of Parliament for an event organised by advocacy group the3million, coming together to promote a message of unity, respect and solidarity to all migrants around the world.

These events of community and solidarity have so much in common with a normal day of life in the streets of Newham. The 2011 Census positioned Newham as the second most diverse borough in England and Wales. If you take a walk through Westfield, or stroll down Stratford Broadway, you will be welcomed by a beautiful myriad of languages, looks and delicious cuisines from around the globe. The richness of Newham, like that of London and the UK at large, sits with its diverse, multicultural and welcoming populations.

It reminds me of an exercise students and staff in UEL’s Cass School of Education and Communities did at the start of the term last September. We were encouraged to identify countries on a map which we associated with life stories. We pinned the spots, and the map quickly became a sea of dots as each one of us struggled with pin-pointing only one place as home.

The map still welcomes visitors to the Cass School. It reminds us that UEL, like Newham and London, is open and welcoming to everyone.

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