Why I’m campaigning for a People’s Vote at Notting Hill Carnival

Dancers at the Notting Hill Carnival. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA.

Dancers at the Notting Hill Carnival. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

MARIAMA KAPUWA will be spreading the word of a People's Vote at one of the world's largest street festivals this weekend.

Notting Hill Carnival started as a means of closing the racial bridge and reducing tensions that existed between white and black communities during the 1950s. Racial tensions had led to a series of racist attacks on the Caribbean community that lived in Notting Hill and had also caused a level of distrust between this community and the police. Notting Hill was created as a celebration of Caribbean culture.

In recent years, these racial tensions have been on the rise with reported hate crimes having a 17% increase within a space of year (2016-2017, 2017-2018). This increase has been linked to the ongoing Brexit saga, with the 2016 vote being a contributing factor. Ethnic minorities have been ignored when it comes to the impact of Brexit, despite there being one of the demographics impacted most by Brexit. Amidst this grim political climate, as a black woman, Notting Hill Carnival is one setting that I can say I feel safe and less likely to be a victim of hate crime. Campaigning with Ethnic Minorities for a People's Vote is about allowing ethnic minorities to be represented and heard. It's about paying attention to the risks of Brexit - such as an increase in hate crime.

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With Brexit comes along with a lot of adjustments, including changes to the budget as the UK economic growth is likely to be weaker. This will mean reducing tax revenues for spending on services and increasing costs in some areas. There will most likely be more policies like the Universal credit, targeted at changing the welfare state, an area that will greatly affect ethnic minorities and their families who have historically been more likely to live in poverty; Bangladeshis (65%), Pakistanis (55%) and black Africans (45%) having the highest rates than their white counterparts. Furthermore, since austerity measures were introduced in 2010, research by WBG and the Runnymede Trust has shown that among the poorest 20% of households, black and Asian households have seen their living standards fall by 11.6% and 11.2%, while the living standards of white households in this group fell by 8.9%. In addition, local organisation/charities that existed mainly to support ethnic minorities when it comes to further economic support, mental health, housing etc have also been affected as UK citizens will no longer be entitled to the EU Structural and Investment Funds growth programme (ESIF) worth £4.15 billion.

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These numbers do not provide a reassuring future for ethnic minorities, if Brexit was to become a reality, especially when one takes into consideration the current government. How can one trust a leader, who has a history of making racist remarks, to consider the interests of ethnic minorities? From Islamophobic comments about people wearing the burqa looking like "letter boxes" to calling black children "picaninnies" (a racist term used to describe black children). During his as editor of the Spectator, he also allowed a number of articles with racist contents including one about racial eugenics which suggested that black people have the lowest IQ be published. A cabinet led by a leader with racist history should not be left alone to make decisions that are going to negatively impact the lives of ethnic minorities during one of the most crucial times the country has ever seen.

This is why I will be campaigning with Ethnic Minorities for a People's Vote at Notting Hill Carnival. A carnival that attracts around one million people annually, making it one of the world's largest street festivals, and a significant event in Black British culture. A carnival that has been described to be a means of celebrating of diversity & multiculturalism. In order to maintain this spirit of diversity, it is important that ethnic minorities are actively speaking out and demanding a seat on the table. This is what Ethnic Minorities for a People's Vote does, it not only unites but all shows that there's strength in numbers. A People's Vote gives the power back to the masses and allows them to decide how Brexit should happen. We have been ignored for so long, but we intend on making our voices heard.

- Find out more about the People's Vote campaigning at Notting Hill Carnival on this website.

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