Why the Sainsbury’s Christmas advert gives me hope in this turmoil called 2016
Or: how I have hope for the future in a post-Farage Britain
So I’m sat down watching ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’ and the new Sainsbury’s Christmas advert came on. “How progressive”, I said, turning to my parents with a smile. They looked at me with confusion so we rewound the television and watched it again. Still more confusion. “Well, y’know… there’s a gay couple and an interracial couple and people of different religions and races everywhere! Isn’t it great?” My Mother looked at me, still holding her lukewarm cup of tea, taken aback. “Well, why shouldn’t there be?” It was in that moment I felt the first bit of relief and pure hope since June 23rd 2016.
Okay, so lets have a bit of a step back. I am part of a tight-knit working class family with a wide spectrum of political views in a countryside town in England. As a 17 year old politics student, I have watched my country go from relative peace and sanity to making what could be one of the most disastrous decisions that may negatively impact all of Europe and that incited 41% more hate crimes in the month after the referendum than in the same month the year previous (according to a Home Office report). I have watched in terror and shock as Donald Trump soared through the trials of the Presidential Election; his supporters praising his speeches vilifying POC and immigrants or chanting “lock her up” in regards to his opposition for the Presidency, Hillary Clinton. This year’s political climate alone would be enough to demoralize anyone, let alone taking into account all of the atrocities taking place in Syria and other human rights abuses around the world. Unfortunately, with the way things are going, the future isn’t looking great. But with this conversation at 9pm on a Monday night I felt a glimmer of hope.
After having this small discussion with my mother and step-father, I felt that somehow the future will be okay. My mother is a “young mum” having gotten pregnant at the age of 19, my step-father is only a few years older than her and possesses considerably more right-wing views than the both of us. But the fact that they found the family set ups and racially diverse set of characters in the advert to be perfectly normal, “nothing out of the ordinary” my step-father had said, helped me believe in the future.
Many millennials seek to blame the older generations for the recent political events, citing the social and cultural shifts between ages as reasons for differing opinions. Millennials have been shown by studies such as this, this or this to be the most accepting generation yet and in our lifetime we’ve learned about the injustices of the past, as well as having seen many of these overturned in the form of more equal rights being given to in persecuted groups such as the legalization of same-sex marriage in many countries such Brazil and Argentina or European countries continuing to keep to the European Convention on Human Rights. Although there is obviously a wide range of political, religious and ethical beliefs among any age group, however the clear signs that millennials are more accepting and less supportive of harsh divisions between groups or hateful rhetoric such as that from Donald Trump or Nigel Farage makes the future seem a little brighter. One day these people who participated in the fight for same-sex marriage, who mourned Eric Garner and made sure people knew black lives matter, who shouted “not my president”, will be in the decision-making rooms and will raise their children to be equally as passionate and accepting and to raise their voices in solidarity with causes in which they truly believe.
There is sure to be dark times for those in marginalized groups— POC, immigrants, women, the working class and members of the LGBTQ+ community are already feeling the strain — but take stock in the fact that brighter times will be coming. Soon it will be our time to make the world a better place for everyone. And if you feel yourself slipping, re-watch the Sainsbury’s advert to remind yourself that this diversity is beautiful and great and the norm — as it will continue to be.