I am an immigrant.
Actually, about a quarter of me is descended from the Celts, but I don’t think of myself like that. And I don’t really think of myself as an immigrant or even as English any more. I’ve been in Wales since I was ten years old (bar a few years in Leicester). I have Welsh GCSE’s and my welsh language skills improve every day (I was almost fluent once). I’m Welsh. But I’m also British and white, so I get to be here (whether I like it or not) and get away with it.
My wife is an immigrant.
This one is a bit more clear and obvious to everyone who knows her – what with the American accent and all. Her granddad was also born in Wales, but instead of moving to London as a child, his family moved to Philadelphia. She came back here, and will remain here, raise our family here.
Our little Welsh family.
She knows more about the history of this country than most Welsh people. She’s a been a bigger part of the community and is taking care of little Welsh children as I speak. Eventually she’ll be a civilian and well, still an immigrant because she came from America and man that’s a tough accent to shake (though it is getting softer and softer as the years go by).
It doesn’t matter though. My wife is what I consider the best of us. What I consider the ideal of people to be. I am possibly biased – but she is kind and caring and open minded. Honest too.
Racism and Xenophobia are two things that have never really made much sense to me. I am not racist or xenophobic. I may lack understanding sometimes about the inner workings of different cultures but to be honest, I lack the understanding of my own damn culture. I don’t understand the idea that being different is bad because without the exchange of knowledge and ideas we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere as a species and without being different we don’t have different ideas.
And it’s not like being different to someone from Scotland, or Poland, or America, or Nigeria means that the world is going to implode because I’m different from my neighbour but the same as my wife. I’m the same as millions of other people in the world in the way I think. I want to be a good person and be good to other people and also play xbox and sleep and not have to go outside. I know there are a whole lot of people out there like that.
So why can’t they come live here and be good people and live good lives with good jobs. Why can’t I go live next to them and be a good person and a good life and a good job (well, decent job) and better weather (no one is moving to Wales for the weather – I guarantee it).
Immigration isn’t the swamping of one country with a bunch of assholes who don’t get along in their own country. Immigration is about the exchange of people with different cultures and different ideas and different goals but in some cases the need to live in a country with better laws for women and gays and crappier weather.
We’re a small country, so it’s difficult, I get it. There’s not a lot of jobs or homes or space. But I’ve been to New York and well, there doesn’t seem to be that much space or homes either (or jobs – not sure) but people are lining up to live in that dump. The idea that people can’t come and live and work here, but we can go and retire somewhere sunny (and not bother to learn the language, or contribute to the economy, or the community), is both racist and illogical. People don’t come here and then get jobs just for fun. People don’t get hired because they’re accent is funny. If they got a job over a British person there’s probably a reason. Like they were better suited. Or the better candidate.
It bugs me.
It bugs me because my wife is better than everyone else, but a few undesirable immigrants and even more undesirable politicians make her life (our life) difficult.
Poster by Movement Against Xenophobia.