Being Russian, I couldn’t help noticing the rising tensions around migrants and migration as the Brexit vote was approaching. The worrying tendency was to downplay and reject the value of the migrants’ contribution to British economy and cultural life. To oppose this covert racism, a nation-wide campaign #1daywithoutus was created which encouraged expressions of sympathy and gratitude to migrants, even in the face of the anti-immigrant policies adopted by the government.
Finally, Monday 20 February 2017 was declared a national day of action showing solidarity migrants across the world. Various communities in the UK came up with different ideas how to organise this event and how to express their refusal to accept the en-masse maginalisation of their members.
Dumfries and Galloway interpretation of the campaign was an emphasis on unity and multiculturalism rather than “us against them” approach. Massive Outpouring of Love (MOOL), DGMA, the Stove Network, Blueprint100, D&G TUC and Open Borders Scotland were among the reginal organisations that took part in making #1daywithoutus happen and succeed here in Dumfries.
There was a walkout and a group photo shoot at 1pm, but throughout the day local people dropped by the Stove Cafe to take a bite of international food cooked by the members of DGMA and join the on-going conversation how much migrants and migration enriched their life. The turnout and the generosity of spirit were incredible! Some wrote moving post-it notes with their own life experiences and filled the entire wall with them. Some sang and played guitars outside the cafe to draw attention to the event.
It was very positive and uplifting event. I felt touched and privileged to witness all these people saying “No” to hate and cultural division.