How social media gives forgotten communities a voice

 

Protest in the digital age almost impossible without social media being part of the narrative. The London Latinxs is a network that shares ideas about feminism, racism and shares issues that the Latin American community faces in London and throughout the UK. The network has been using social media to publish their campaigns since 2015. Rosanna Wiseman, a founding member explains why.

What gave you the idea for London Latinxs?

A friend was working in the Latin American charity sector with NGOs and realised that they were helping migrants but they weren’t dealing with the problems or with the root causes of the issues they were facing.

In 2015, the government was becoming hostile towards migrants and we wanted to create something that dealt with these issues. We try to challenge the general atmosphere towards migrants. 2015 was a year where there was a lot of news about migrants trying to come over from Calais and dying on the way. We were trying to say that the problem is all about borders. So, we had a slogan which was “Your borders kill” and another one “If you don’t let them in we won’t let you out”. We were trying to challenge the idea that if you have a western or European passport you can go anywhere you want, whereas if you were coming over here to flee a situation you aren’t guaranteed safety.

We also worked in collaborations with NGOs, charities and young Latin American people. We did workshops on sexism, classism and racism within the Latin American community. Of course, no one is perfect so we are always trying to learn from each other - just because our community faces oppression doesn’t mean they don’t perpetuate oppression. In October 2015, we did a rap battle with young Latin American people and rapped about the issues we raised in the workshops, so we just used fun and innovative ways to deal with quite heavy subjects.

How do you get people to be involved in your campaigns?

In 2017, we mostly focused on working with places around London based on gentrification. In north-east London there is Latin American market at Seven Sisters that is threatened with closure. We have been trying to save the market so we just help them fundraise and try and bring the case into the spotlight. We already have a few thousand people on Facebook so we just share their campaign to support them in solidarity. We are also focusing on the Latin community at Elephant and Castle, where there are plans to gentrify the shopping centre. Gentrification isn’t just happening in Elephant and Castle and Tottenham, it’s happing everywhere in London and it mostly affects migrant and working-class communities. 

The Latin village in Tottenham in London has been battling against gentrification for years. What do you think people should know about the communities in the village?

When Latin Americans come into the UK, a lot of them go into the cleaning sector but one of the great things about having these markets in London is that they can start their own business. The worry is that if these places shut down then the people who run the stalls must start over again or will have to go into the cleaning sector. They are basically losing their livelihood. Getting rid of these cultural centres leaves people very alienated and it’s important for different communities to have these hubs. The worry is if we just replace it with shopping centres like Westfield you won’t have the same sense of community. It generally makes people feel alienated in a city that is already quite daunting. Being able to connect to a Latin American community through social media makes me feel like I’m part of London, part of the community.

Why do you think it is so important to share your campaigns on social media?

I think development is happening too fast and people can’t control it. People are forced to move out since prices are going up and bigger business are coming in. We are trying to focus on how these other cultures are important for London. 

Natalie Lyddon