Today I froze, but that was my choice, as I walked through Calais town happy in the knowledge that my white skin would protect me. I had money to buy food and a home to go to and the confidence to join in the festivities. I had no problem seeking warmth in a bistro or buying hot wine without being judged. How many of us truly recognize the power granted to us by simply being born white? How many of us see being born in the West a privilege?
I walked home, as fast as I could as I was frozen to the bone. I thought about sleeping out that night, hidden in a park or under some trees or even in a mouldy shelter in Dunkirk: afraid to ask for help, ashamed of needing help and the colour of my skin preventing me from receiving help. Help to protect my family from the freezing numbness cold brings. “Today I froze’ is not a choice for many, it is life; or death.
So we do what we can. Calais has changed me, changed so many, I no longer take anything for granted and I appreciate the luck of being born white and in the West. We cannot chose where we are born or the colour of our skin or the language we speak. But we can chose to lessen the evil in this world, it doesn’t take that much, reach out your hand and smile and say hello – it could be the only friendly face that person has seen all day. Volunteers who come to Calais make that choice everyday and I am so proud to have known so many of them, and those who choose to support us everyday back in the UK.
‘There should be no discrimination against languages people speak, skin color, or religion’ Malala Yousafzai
Written by a Care4Calais volunteer.
If you would like to volunteer with us, please go to https://care4calais.org/volunteer/