Vote like an Immigrant

South Asians parents love to preach about how the younger generations are too westernised and not in touch with their roots. Yet they’re the ones who’ve forgotten themselves, their diasporic identity and its implications in Britain 2017.

Last Summer I was shocked to hear my elderly relatives say they were voting Leave. I was even more shocked that I had to persuade my parents to vote Remain. I would never call my parents woke – they’re often coming out with offensive comments and still hold traditional values – but I try my best to broaden their minds and correct them when they act ignorant. It’s been a long and frustrating process, but I’m proud to say my efforts haven’t been in vain. I see positive changes in them both – they’re still not woke, but at the very least they know their beliefs are outdated and problematic. I was able to persuade their votes last year and find myself doing the same now. If you’re experiencing the same struggle with your elders I urge you to do the same.

I live in Harrow, an extremely diverse part of London known for having a large South Asian community. It’s an area where different waves of immigration come and settle, changing the landscape and adding to this multicultural community. According to the UK Polling Report, the population of Harrow West (my constituency) is 42.9% Asian.We’ve had a Labour seat for the last two decades, however the margins between Labour and Conservative are extremely small. The 2015 general election result showed that of those who voted, 47% voted Red, and 42.2% went Blue. Seeing as white Brits only account for 29% of Harrow West’s population there seems to be more Conservatives of Colour here than people realise.

Most South Asians in Harrow are Gujarati, like me. It is this community I often find myself at odds with, especially when it comes to politics. I honestly don’t know what went wrong. We were all working class, and although parts of the SA community have worked hard to achieve a middle-class lifestyle in our area, it seems that along the way they’ve forgotten their roots. But I haven’t. It really doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in this country, in the current socio-political climate POC will always be labelled ‘immigrants’ – the kind that take white British jobs and pollute their neighbourhoods.

I had to remind my parents this the other day. They’ve been brainwashed by the xenophobic rhetoric of UKIP and the Tories of “there are too many immigrants coming here”. To which I replied you are an immigrant. That made them stop and think. I urge everyone who believes in a fair and equal society with rights for all, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or disabilities to vote with this sentiment. Vote like an immigrant.

We may be minorities but together we can accomplish something major.

The Conservatives will always see minorities as being second-class citizens, no matter how wealthy or educated you become. So don’t waste your vote, vote with the working-class, vote for change, and vote Labour.

As much as we need the youth to vote, we saw in the referendum that it isn’t just up to us. We need to hold those around us, and older than us to account. Speak to your parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends. Do all that you can and together we can achieve something radical.

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