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Why I Challenged Farage on Racism

07/04/2015 23:43 BST | Updated 07/06/2015 10:59 BST

I confronted Nigel Farage about racism in a video that has gone viral. Here's why I did it. On the night of 27 March, I was invited to Sky News studios to watch and tweet about #BattleForNumber10, which saw Miliband and Cameron grilled on things like the economy, the NHS and immigration. I was in the spin room with journalists and fellow contributors of Stand Up Be Counted, a platform for young people to have their views heard in the run in to the general election.

Nigel Farage walked into the spin room and was met with a mob of journalists. Initially I was shocked, had he been invited to the leaders debates? I asked a producer but they couldn't confirm if Nigel Farage had been invited. I then felt angry that he had showed up to the debates to tow the usual line of "Eastern Europeans are taking jobs away from British workers". So when I started saying out loud what I would say to him if I spoke to him, a producer then asked if I wanted to talk to him - I hesitated. A few minutes later I'd changed my mind so we went to find Nigel, who was having a cigarette outside the studio. We waited for him, he came back inside and our exchange can be seen on the video.

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I took on Farage because I'm sick of the toxic atmosphere, scapegoating those who were not responsible for the economic crisis instead of the economic vandalism of bankers and those in the financial sector. The debate on immigration is fuelled by racism and xenophobia. I was proved right when someone tweeted me this.

And its not just anecdotal evidence that the immigration debate is fuelling racism. A report by Childline last year showed that racist bullying in the classroom had soared by 69%, thanks to the hostile immigration debate, with an increase in Islamaphobia

It is critical that the media highlights the impact that the immigration debate is having regarding racism. It is clear that Farage did not want to hear about my experiences. I was born in Ghana a country in West Africa and I moved to the UK when I just turned 13. I went to high school and college in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. I remember being the only Black child in school, I remember being spat on and told to "go back where I came from". I remember very clearly our house being egged on a weekly basis and the BNP having a stall in our town centre every other Saturday. It was at the point I was reliving these experiences that Farage grew impatient and demanded I ask a question instead. Clearly hearing about my experiences which highlights the direct impact of the link between racism and immigration, left Farage as uncomfortable as people speaking in foreign languages on London trains. Such attitudes belong in a bygone century, not the forthcoming election. UKIP's legitimisation of a racist immigration debate is clear: I have been consistently trolled by racists since speaking my mind, as racists have been emboldened to be abusive towards me. However, since video has gone viral, the response has been overwhelmingly supportive.

The current debate on immigration is a big con. There are studies that show that immigration is a great benefit to Britain. The NHS, for example, would not work without migrants. Contrary to Nigel's claims, immigrants like myself, my mother and many others contribute immensely to the economy. If Ukip get their way and remove race equality legislation, people from the black community like myself will face even more disadvantage at work and in other aspects of public life. I've been accused of editing the footage in a certain and I would like to address this by saying that Sky News has all the footage from that night. Different people filmed it at different times so we don't have coherent footage. The video of the Chelsea Racists pushing a black man off a train onto a platform in France went viral and exposed the state of racism in popular culture. It had the central attention of the media for weeks. This shows that each and everyone of us standing up to racism has a role to play and, that it can set the agenda on racism, an issue that has been codified and made mainstream by the immigration debate. It has not gone away. It is alive and kicking and needs to be challenged.