We were not alone in being shocked by the result of the EU Referendum and despite the Leave vote representing the start of a long term process, the short term adverse impacts arrived more abruptly than anyone could have predicted.
Many people went to bed on Thursday evening with a sense of confidence in their identity and their place in society yet woke to a country where they now anxiously look over their shoulders, worried about what their neighbours, work colleagues and fellow students really think of them. Had the result gone the other way, there would have undoubtedly been similar anger and division, but no one would have woken up scared.
The Leave vote was not a vote for racism and xenophobia, but people who hold those views feel their beliefs have been legitimised. The spike in racially motivated hate crimes in the days following the referendum, both reported in the media and those experienced or witnessed by the friends and associates of Diverse Cymru, has been incredibly sad and is clear evidence of an erosion of community cohesion.
During the campaign the barrage of media attacks on immigrants and asylum seekers was unyielding, designed to instil fear in people who had been repeatedly told that their suffering under austerity was the fault of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.
We fear the rise in the frequency and ferocity of racial hate crime will be accompanied by a backlash against other protected characteristics as those who hold extreme, sometimes violent, views gain confidence in expressing them publicly. We are already concerned by the increasing resentment and distrust being exhibited by those from different generations and we fear this will fuel an ever widening divide between young and old.
Diverse Cymru wants to bring together influential voices from across Welsh civil society to develop a robust, united and positive response to the referendum result. We must push back against those who see this time as an opportunity to peddle hate and fear.
We believe these very real and substantial challenges can be overcome if we work together and take back the narrative. This time of fear and uncertainty must be seized as an opportunity to revisit and strengthen our commitment to equality, diversity and human rights. Together we can create a fairer, cohesive Wales that promotes individual wellbeing by ensuring we protect all those who now feel a growing sense of being marginalised.
If you are interested in working with Diverse Cymru on this bold challenge, please contact us on 029 2036 8888 or email email@example.com
Martyn Jones, CEO