Anti Racism Day Cardiff 2018: Mirka Virtanen's Speech

17 March 2018

I am very happy to be here today on behalf of the Wales Green Party, continuing the strong tradition we have speaking against racism and inequality. 


You may ask why a white European girl is on this platform at an anti-racism demonstration. I was asking that myself. Then I remembered – Brexit happened. I thought I had to say something.


There has been A LOT OF TALK about Brexit lately.


And hate crime.


And too many migrants.


But it really is a discussion about how some are seen not as deserving or not as valuable as others.


Myself - I can barely have a constructive discussion about Brexit – because I feel that people who are younger than me are going to suffer from the whole thing so much more than others, and I worry that they will grow up into a world that isn’t as inclusive and progressive as mine was.


That we are potentially giving up rights that benefit us all is a huge cause of concern. That is what Freedom of Movement is, it is a right.


The Green Party demand a ratification referendum on Brexit. The first referendum was the start, not the end, of the democratic process and it is right that people should have a say on the final deal. It is a chance for you to hold on to your right to participate in the democratic process.


And, migration benefits economies and people, migrants boost our economies across Europe including Britain. We create jobs and we start businesses, we work for our communities. Being made a scapegoat of everything that is wrong, there are migrants who have suffered not just verbal abuse, but physical. Those who suffer from structural inequalities (eg. Not getting a job because their name sounds foreign) are not as visible, but this is equally important.


I could say a thing or two about the Green Party policy on migration, why it is important to have all sorts of different migrants with different skill sets from different places and not just the ones that attract a high salary but I do have a limited time and what I really want to say is this:


We can make this conversation about Brexit count. Fight against what is happening, but as importantly, use your voice to challenge the racist and inflammatory sentiments that have always been there, that have now become more visible. We can only fight against something that we can actually see.


So, whilst it looks like Brexit is taking us backwards -and that is a real danger - it is up to us – if we can expand this movement against racism and intolerance - the chances are that we will end up going forward.


It is up to us, me, you, your friends and maybe even your neighbours to make this country a better place for all.  


Do we want a divided society? 

Do we want a divide between people who voted for Brexit and the people who didn’t ?
Do we want a divide between people who feel they are European and those who don’t?

And Do we want a divide between people who ARE European, those who are from other places, and those who are British?


If that is a no, then we need to start talking.


We can all educate each other. About why migration is important, why racism does not stand a ground, why no one is better than the other. And it is a job that will never be finished.  


The Greens will continue to work with Stand Up to Racism to say no to racism in all its forms and speak for the benefits of a multicultural society!

Thank you! 

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