As first published in Influence
“No more Polish vermin”
“Get back to Africa”
“Pakis go home”
These are just some the phrases British born people across the country have been taunted with in 2016.
With increased reports of racist abuse since the EU referendum result, Londoner Allison had the idea to get people to show solidarity against racism by wearing a safety pin on their clothes. The simple act has snowballed; images of those ‘digital activists’/ ‘conscious classes’ have responded with an act of solidarity by the wearing a safety pin and posting a picture of themselves with the hashtag #safetypin.
Simple acts, to show a simple message: we don’t agree with racism, people should support a campaign that states that they are prepared to be part of the solution.
Communicating through symbols is nothing new: emojis, hieroglyphics, a middle finger… A symbol is a sign to evoke the senses – whereas words are something very specific: Black and white if you will.
But are online posts helping to fight inequality or do we need formal documents? Are social posts positive acts of communication that evoke conversation that help to break down prejudice, or is it just content fodder with a short shelf life?
Reactions from people such as media commentators, politicians, and new-age thought leaders are disproportionally influential amongst those groups who are increasingly disenfranchised from the wider world and live in smaller digital communities.
In the same vein, today new data from Britain’s longest-running barometer of public social perception shows that, despite massive economic and social change over the last three decades, most Britons still see themselves as working class. The survey strikingly, found that almost half of participants in the survey who are employed in managerial or professional jobs see themselves as working class.
That suggests that millions of British people are part of what the survey report authors described as a “working class of the mind” – skewed by portrayal of ultra-rich.
How we continue to communicate online at this speed is reflective of the nature in which certain communities can so easily be disrupted – despite the long term and ongoing actions of campaign groups whose mission is to educate and allow people to make more informed decisions without bias.
Today, the Chair of Labour’s antisemitism inquiry Shami Chakrabarti concluded its inquiry into antisemitism within the party’s ranks and recommended that members resist the use of Hitler, Nazi and Holocaust metaphors.
It adds: “Epithets such as ‘Paki’, ‘Zio’ and others should have no place in Labour party discourse going forward”. Shami Chakrabarti, who led the inquiry, said she was making 20 recommendations aimed at helping the party “lead by example” in dealing with antisemitism.
In a western world where we’re free to write how we feel when we like – have we lost our communication common sense and the way we value our identity?
The Great British identity crisis is alive and well.
By Rajmeena Aujla, Corporate Account Director.
Image – Influence CIPR