30 Jun 2016

Heritage and Heartbreak

This is going to be the most personal I have ever been on my blog.

My name is Anya Rączka.  

By my name alone, you may be lead to believe that I am from Poland, but that is not entirely the case.  I am British.  I was born in Birmingham with heritage that comes from Poland, Ireland, Denmark, Germany and England.  I have never in my life felt anything other than pride about my heritage, but the events over the past few days since the EU Referendum results were announced, have left me feeling nervous, heartbroken and angry.  I had hoped that what I had seen and read about were just a small collection of isolated incidents, but I fear that that is not the case.


I have always felt guilty that, whilst I am the product of immigration, I am white and have no accent, so therefore have never had to deal with racism.  The Leave vote winning has already shown that it has legitimised xenophobic and racist views, with people being ordered to leave the country by bigots in the streets, on buses, in schools and more.  Polish families have had hate mail posted through their doors demanding the same of them and calling them 'vermin' and right-wing racists have chanted hate speech outside of mosques.  I can't even begin to understand how horrific this is for those affected.

People have been told to go back to 'their own country', but for them, like me, this is their home and their country.  They have as much right and claim to it as the abhorrent members of our society who think the opposite.

The country I love and the country I call home has been made as brilliant, as fascinating and as complex as it is, by a rich history of immigration and multiculturalism and I am proud to be a part of that.

We are now divided as a nation and this division seems to be about compassion and a lack thereof.  People are ignorant and quick to blame those seemingly different to them, to blame them for what is quite often either a fault of the government or their own.  This ignorance also spreads to targeting those 'obvious' immigrants, those with a different colour skin, different clothes or different accent, but I would imagine a large proportion of these immigrants will have a history of family in this country equally as long as myself.  However, even if they haven't, even if they have been here only this year, who are these people to tell them to leave?

Now I would like to believe most people would agree with me on my previous statements, but after this week I'm just not so sure anymore.  I've been left feeling nervous about saying my name out loud, for fear of something even as small as a dirty look.

These people are claiming that they want Britain to be 'great again' and I'm going to be honest, I want the same, albeit most certainly not for the same reasons.  I want us to be the great nation of people formed from immigration from all over the globe.  A great nation that has expanded and developed with a rich culture.  A great nation which, when there is a crisis in another country, doesn't turn its back on those desperately in need.

If it wasn't for my country opening its doors to those in need, I wouldn't exist.  As you may know, Poland was invaded during World War II.  My Grandfather was one of many Polish people to be sent to Auschwitz.  When the prison camp became a concentration camp, he was marched on foot to another camp in Germany, where later he and the other prisoners were liberated by the Americans.  Poland had since been invaded by the Russians and he couldn't return after the war, so he came to England.

Whilst we have been divided over remaining or leaving the EU, we should unite in our hatred of racism, xenophobia and bigotry.  We must fight so that people can live without persecution and so that Great Britain can be great once more.

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4 comments

  1. This was so beautifully written and I wish more people would realize that there are stories behind every face.
    x Kenzie // Kenzieblogslife.blogspot.com

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  2. Thank you for expressing your views and I feel a lot of people share them too. Now the dust has settled a little bit, the wound doesn't feel as sore however I feel nothing but shame and saddness for the amount of bigitory I am now hearing about on a daily basis. I don't know how we are going to be able to address the ignorant views apart from having open discussions and education, the more posts like this the better! L x http://www.one-more-slice.com/

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I agree, silence is what allows bigotry to perpetuate x

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