Gary Younge, a member of SRtRC’s ‘Writers Against Racism’, discusses 100 Images of Migration exhibition in The Guardian
"You cannot tell if a person is an immigrant by looking at them; but you can tell a country that has been enriched and enlivened by immigration by looking at it.”
The exhibition which is part of the Migration Museum Project aims to chart the immigration experience in Britain over the past 100 years.
In the article Gary writes “…for much of the past century in Britain, the inability to distinguish between race (the colour of people) and place (the movement of people) presented a particular challenge for those who laboured under the delusion there was an intrinsic, essential "look" and cultural performance that underpinned what it meant to be British. So ingrained was the connection that pollsters often lumped the two themes together, inviting people to express their concerns about "race/immigration" as though the two were inextricably linked.
“Without understanding where people came from and why – be it colonial occupation, war, poverty or career advancement – the potential for resentment of "strangers" who seem to have appeared from nowhere can be substantial. This was particularly significant for that period of mass migration during the middle of the last century from former colonies.”
Reflecting on the purpose and merits of this exhibition, Gary concludes, “Such images are useful because, with the impulse to retreat into the nostalgia of a monocultural, monoracial nation that never was, Britain needs a new image for itself. Migration is not only not new. It is not going away. As a small island that was once an empire in an increasingly interconnected world, migration is not only the product of a modern world, it is the reality that Britain itself has done a great deal to produce. You cannot tell if a person is an immigrant by looking at them; but you can tell a country that has been enriched and enlivened by immigration by looking at it.”