My experience of xenophobia took me completely by surprise.
Growing up in 1970’s as a British born subject with an English mother and Indian father in the South of England, there was a background of racism, with National Front marches in Brighton contributing to a sense of otherness. When I settled in Norwich in the late 1980’s, I was amazed at the lack of racism. I felt at ease in Norwich and made my home in the area, contributing to the community, attending UEA as a mature student and raising my son and daughter.
My son has inherited my colouring and my daughter is fair like her father; this raised little comment. In recent years, with the advent of the inflamed subject of immigration, to my dismay, I have experienced a change in attitudes towards me in the city I adored so much, which resumed a familiar tone. I have received a second look in many places, as though I were a threat in the shop, from staff, with a check in my bag to see if I had taken anything. People who I have known by sight for twenty-five years living on my street suddenly looked at me in a studied way, then recognizing me, looked ashamed when they realised the assumptions they were making. As a single woman living on her own and recovering from ME, I have felt vulnerable and intimidated by the implicit threat in these looks. I no longer feel at ease in Norwich: I am on my guard. The most ordinary encounter in a shop, bus stop etc. can be charged with a sense of suspicion.
This is my experience in 2017 in Britain.