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When RECLAIM went to Westminster by Anisa & Binish

On Tuesday 29th November, we were invited to an oracy event, where we went to visit the House of Commons and House of Lords. Our expectations of the House of Commons was that it was a space that discussed matters belonging to the general public where they could relate with the issues being discussed. Whilst with the House of Lords, we expected it to be something the general public would not be familiar with. However, to our surprise, our experience of the two parliamentary groups subverted our original expectations.

We were highly disappointed by the topic of discussions that were broadcast live to the BBC as the subject of public opinion. Instead of conversing with issues that directly impact the general public, a large proportion being working-class citizens, they were discussing irrelevant issues involving ministers and leaked information. This could have easily been solved privately without the need of an audience of MPs and a live broadcast, which requires time and energy, wasting taxpayers money. However, we were partly enlightened in the change that we saw in the House Of Lords. They were debating the lack of effort gone into sexual assault and harassment cases and how they needed to be improved. This is undoubtedly a major issue for the public that needs to be tackled and recognised as a problem so we were glad to see that it had active participation by the majority of its attendees.

Later, we attended an APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) oracy event which included teachers, ministers and MPs. The meeting was about accent discrimination and the social bias that comes with it. We talked about our background and how our experiences shaped our identities. Furthermore, we discussed the issues and how to tackle them, as we are the young generation who will be forging a better tomorrow. We made the point that people, especially young people, will not be able to overcome the barrier of not being able to understand different accents and how to be respectful unless they are exposed to different accents. We felt strongly about this as we have individually had personal experiences of the impact of the discrimination and the pressure of trying to fit in.

When I - Binish - first came to England I had a Spanish accent and felt pressured to change my accent in order to fit in. A possible solution would be having more media representation of diverse accents which represent people like myself, such as podcasts or people with different accents on the TV. Whereas I - Anisa - discussed the other side of the issue, being a Mancunian who lacks the traditional accent of my cultural heritage. I am concerned with how society forces individuals to change their accents and conform, which destroys culture and erases communities and identities. I will always encourage people to celebrate and take pride in their accent because it is so closely entwined with their identity.

We’ve learnt that there’s still a lot to change and change starts with all of us. Regardless of what the problem is you can always make a change as long as you put your mind to it.

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