For most of my adult life, I lived as an immigrant – as an American transplant in the United Kingdom. Culturally, I’m British, despite having been born in Jersey, New Jersey, and never legally having secured British citizenship.
I was educated, married, had my children and continue to run a successful business in the UK. With it as part of the European Union, the Treaty of Rome allowed me to stay in the UK as the spouse of a European national. But the sense of structural acceptance I experienced as an 'immigrant' worsened over the years.
When it was determined that the UK curriculum wasn’t 'British' enough, study of American classics like To Kill a Mocking Bird and Of Mice and Men was eliminated. And I was deeply offended.
It was a sign of how detached the UK has become from its own oppressively colonizing, racist British-American heritage that both defines and plagues the US today.
My family chose to leave the UK pre-Brexit, but I’m sure if we’d stayed, we’d be packing our bags today - because our right to remain in the UK as a European family would be in grave jeopardy under Brexit.
Now that Article Fifty has been triggered by Prime Minister May, the United Kingdom’s active departure from the European Union has in fact begun. Many believe this day also solidifies divisions within the UK, with Scottish and Irish Independence from the UK clearly on the horizon.
A fellow British academic colleague writes about the likely consequences of this process in an email, entitled a Requiem for the United Kingdom. He writes:
‘As well as geographical parts of the UK leaving the United Kingdom the brain drain has already started. We lack the moral responsibility to ensure that EU citizens settled here can remain and they are starting to drift away. So too are the highly qualified – doctors, scientists, academics.’
I’m part of that Brain Drain. I chose Vermont because of its humanitarian values but I can’t claim to be coming here from a war-torn country as a refugee or asylum seeker. I simply ‘relocated’.
But even so, I feel compelled to actively honor our moral responsibility to our migrant communities. They lay incredible talent at our doorstep that must not be left untapped, unacknowledged and feeling unwelcome.
Inclusion is one of the best ways to ensure that we never have to sing a requiem for Vermont.