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Join Us In Standing Up To Racism And Donald Trump's Divisive Rhetoric

19/01/2017 16:31

Donald Trump's racism has dangerous ramifications in Britain too. That is why Stand Up To Racism is marking his inauguration with a day of protests, outside the US Embassy in London and in 25 other towns and cities this Friday. We hope to use this occasion to encourage people to attend a mass demonstration on 18 March against racism, islamophobia and anti-Semitism; this will coincide with the UN Anti-Racism Day.

Trump's scapegoating of Muslims and migrants, like that from politicians on both sides of last year's EU referendum debate here, has given racists everywhere a boost - as I know all too well after being subject to the recent spike in racist hate crime.

Two weeks ago, while eating out in a fish and chip shop, a man decided to grab me as if to pull me out of my seat. He explained his problem was with "people like me", to which he meant Muslims. What happened to me was certainly no exception, I know Muslim women are disproportionately likely to be on the receiving end of Islamophobic attacks.

Yet the shocking thing about this incident is that it happened when I was surrounded by a group of friends in a takeaway in a busy high street in West London. I can only imagine this brazenness will continue with the election of Donald Trump, unless the divisive politics he represents is sufficiently opposed. 

Trump led one of the most racist and bigoted campaigns in US election history. It was marked by his attempts to bully marginalised groups and individuals including his promise to build a giant wall along the Mexican border, to expel 11 million "illegal" immigrants and ban Muslims from entering the country.

In Europe Trump's victory last November was celebrated by far-right figures and organisations including Marine le Pen and the Front National in France, Gert Wilders in Holland, Norbert Hofer in Austria and right-wing leaders in Poland, Hungary and Farage in Britain.

It is too simplistic to say Trump won the election solely on a racist vote. In the US, as in Britain, there is evidence of deep dissatisfaction with the effects of decades of neo-liberal policies and austerity measures implemented since the financial crash of 2008. The result of this has been a crisis for establishment politics and polarisation.

Trump's success has until now come from his ability to portray himself as being 'anti-establishment', when this could not be further from the truth. His toxic views both divide and incite hatred against Muslims, Jews, migrants, women and people of colour but they also represent an attempt to roll back the clock on many of the hard fought gains won by these groups. Trump's decision to launch an attack on civil rights icon John Lewis, the day before Martin Luther King Day in the US should leave us in no doubt of this.

While Donald Trump represents the politics of hatred and division, there are millions of people who reject his views and are willing to stand up to oppose them. On Friday 20 January, the day he will be inaugurated as President, hundreds of protesters are expected to take to the streets in a defiant stance against Trump's racist and reactionary rhetoric. We are calling on as many people as possible to join us outside the US Embassy in London or your nearest protest (see event page). There is nothing inevitable about the rise of racism and bigotry. It can be halted by people from across communities standing together in defence of one another.

We can expect racism will continue to frame much of the political discussion during the next year particularly in the lead up to the government's enacting of Article 50 when the negative rhetoric around migrants is likely to intensify once more. However, ordinary people can also play a role in shaping an alternative narrative.

It is crucial we stand up to Trump this Friday and we need people from across the country to play their part in building a mass demonstration against racism on 18 March. The international march will coincide with UN Anti-Racism Day and is backed by the Trade Union Congress. It could prove to be a powerful display of unity against the sustained threat of racism we face.

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