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UK: Video with anti-racist poem goes viral

Video with hashtag #YouClapForMeNow shows immigrants, foreigners as key workers on front line fighting coronavirus

Ahmet Gürhan Kartal   | 15.04.2020
UK: Video with anti-racist poem goes viral

LONDON

A video highlighting the participation of minorities and foreigners during the worst healthcare crisis in decades in the U.K. is trending on social media worldwide.

The video, with the Twitter hashtag #YouClapForMeNow, shows immigrants and people of foreign heritage working as medics, delivery drivers, teachers and other professions on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus.

The video starts with the message, “What the U.K. is most afraid of has come from overseas, taking our jobs and making it unsafe to walk the streets” – a direct reference to abusive language, racist behavior, and divisive language often used in the country against immigrants and foreigners.

People appearing in the video read a poem written by illustrator Darren Smith to highlight the diversity of those working to keep the U.K. running.

"No, you clap for me now. You cheer as I toil. Bringing food for your family. Bringing food from your soil,” says the poem, referring to millions of Brits clapping for healthcare workers.

It continues: "So you clap for me now / all this love you are bringing.

"But don’t forget when it’s no longer quiet / don’t forget when you can no longer hear the birds singing.

"Or see clearer waters that I crossed for you / to make lives filled with peace / and bring peace to your life too."

The video has been seen by millions of people across the world, receiving a deluge of positive comments.

During the initial weeks of Britain’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic, at least three Muslim doctors and a nurse lost their lives while helping patients.

“The United Nations released a global brief to all creatives to spread messages of positivity, kindness and solidarity during these uncertain times,” said Sachini Imbuldeniya, the video’s producer. “The brief was very open in terms of what content was created. My good friend and colleague Darren Smith wrote the poem. We both work together at Bridge Studio.”

He was quoted as saying by the Guardian that Smith “previously interviewed my mum, a retired nurse, for an article that ran in the Sunday Times Magazine about the Windrush scandal and feels very passionately about the subject, as do I,” referring to a scandal over the mistreatment and deportation of non-white British subjects whose families came to the U.K. before 1973.

“When I read the poem I knew the message needed to be spread as widely as possible, so we decided to turn it into a short and shareable video featuring a mixture of first-, second- and third-generation immigrants living in the U.K.,” he added.

In the U.K., far-right factions who often use xenophobic, anti-immigrant and Islamophobic rhetoric fuels racism, which has been on the rise.

During the campaigning for the 2016 EU membership referendum, the Leave campaign openly targeted immigration from EU and non-EU countries, including Turkey.

A slogan by the Leave campaign suggested that millions of Turkish immigrants would come to the U.K. when Turkey becomes an EU member. The campaign was widely run by Dominic Cummings, now chief adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was also a prominent figure for the campaign to leave the EU and has also trafficked in Islamophobia.

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