Our Collective Reality
Erica DaSilva, 22, London
The media helps define our collective reality.
As a first generation immigrant, my family and I have seen the consequences of the influential narrative of the media. The stigmatisation of immigrants and the media's perpetuation of this narrative has, for too long, marginalised and alienated many people.
From the age of 3 I would hear my parents being told to go back to their country. I remember not even knowing what that meant because I was too focused on my Barbie or engrossed in my childhood imagination. In fact, due to the language barrier, my parents weren't even aware they were being discriminated against - they just smiled and made sure I was still in my little bubble. Still, at the age of 18 - 15 years later - at a grocery shop trip to our local high street Tesco, this event was replicated. This time I knew what it meant.
It meant that immigrants are seen as an "other" - that we aren't welcome.
It also meant that we are forced to become hyper aware of anti-immigrant sentiment. For example, being stereotyped by my teachers because of my parents backgrounds, their work status or even the idea that immigrants are loud and aggressive.
You know what it doesn't mean?
It doesn't mean that we have to conform to the social norms or ideals of political parties like UKIP.
How can we simultaneously "take your jobs", yet be "lazy" and "not academically astute"?
This is how I found my love of politics and social justice. Through which I believe that we can all make a powerful statement that can spread a message that transcends the barriers and limitations of our different realities to reveal the commonality of our shared human existence.
To lessen institutional discrimination, in particular, we must start a conversation of cultural appreciation inclusive of all people on all platforms. We should be celebrating the coexistence of multidimensionality. As an immigrant female student, why can't I be smart and driven?
The media helps define our collective reality. But we can too.
Erica is a member of our Young Leaders programme. The Almeida Young Leaders is a scheme giving young people with something vital to say the tools and platform to do so. Each young leader has been mentored by a writer and director to develop their ideas, structuring a speech and skills in public speaking.