Words matter. Carefully chosen words can be beautiful, caring, compassionate, descriptive, elegant and stirring.
Words matter. Carefully chosen words can be deceptive, cutting, hurtful, vicious, selfish, offensive, bitter and damaging.
How we speak about people matters because people matter. People live around the world in desperate circumstances, often not of their own making. Referring to people fleeing from war, from persecution, from mutilation, from the constant threat of injury or death as migrants is doing them a disservice. Referring to it as a migrant crisis sounds like the problem is ours and that people risking death to escape war are somehow putting us out. Referring to people as swarms leads to connotations of plagues, pestilence, being over run by unwanted pests.
The way that our politicians and media are talking about desperate people trying to protect themselves and their families from wars that we have had a hand in physically disgusts me. We have newspapers that promote nationalism and xenophobia. The same newspapers will have marked the recent anniversary of VJ Day and stirred up the ideas of Britain saving the world during the war.
People are dying. People, not ‘migrants’, not ‘swarms’. Humans. People. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, sons and daughters. All of these people have loved and been loved. These people matter.
We need to care. We need to show compassion. We need to help where we can. We need to give a shit about something other than X Factor, Kardashians and Celebrity Big Brother.
It would be easy to turn off the news and ignore what is currently happening in the world, what is always happening somewhere in the world, but I can’t do that. I hope that you can’t ignore this humanitarian crisis either.
I know that this blog is read all over the world, so where ever you are, please read up on what you can do locally to help prevent children from drowning on European seas trying to escape a war they had no part in. Please read up on what you can do to stop people dying of dehydration in the backs of lorries in tiny concealed spaces. Please see what you can do to stop desperate people from being exploited by human traffickers preying on the vulnerable.
Check in twitter, check on facebook, donate clothes or toiletries or cans of food. Hold your politicians accountable for the way that they speak about people, for denying access to fellow humans in need. Get in touch with groups supporting refugees and asylum seekers. Go and have conversations with people to improve their new language skills. Make it personal to you, because it should be personal. We should all understand that just because it isn’t happening here doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. It could happen here and we would want help and support from other human beings.
In Sheffield we are a city of sanctuary for refugees and asylum seekers. There is a group collecting donations to take to Calais to the people who need them. There are other groups around the UK doing similar things to help out however they can, please see if there is one near you and if there isn’t perhaps you could start one.
UPDATE FOR PEOPLE OF SHEFFIELD AND SURROUND AREA:
There is a facebook group you can join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CalaisMigrantSolidarityActionFromSheffield/?fref=ts
“A quick word on donations:
The list of recommended donations to the camp in Calais change on a regular basis, so we’ll aim to update this list as much as possible. We request that all donations be in good condition and hardwearing – no holes or tears and where appropriate unused. Where possible please bring and buy new items.
Any donations that are not suitable to take down to Calais will be donated to refugee and asylum seeker charities in Sheffield.
Please drop off all donations at the Moor Theatre Delicatessen (The Moor, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S1 4PF), which is open every Thursday to Saturday, 11am – 4pm.
Please note we can only accept donations during these times. Can we please ask that you do not leave donations outside on the doorstep.
**A note on clothes: must be clean and wearable**
Toiletries – unopened
Socks – hardwearing new pairs
Nails, screws and rawl plugs
Rolls of Bin bags
First aid kits – unopened and unused components
Salt, pepper, spices, condiments – unopened and in-date
Tea bags, sugar – unopened and in-date
Plastic/wooden cooking utensils
Stackable / foldable plastic storage boxes
Hard-wearing shoes and boots.”
This is Craig:Morgan:Robson singing Ralkp McTell’s Peppers and Tomatoes. Please have a listen, have a think about how you can get involved and go and do it.