Politics

Glasgow set for pro-Ukraine demonstration on Saturday

Since day one of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Polish streets have been filled with protesters. The entire country has been acting day and night in order to provide as much support for Ukrainians as possible. Similarly in Bulgaria, Finland, Lithuania, and other surrounding countries.

Living in Scotland I have experienced dozens of marches and protests for independence and against violence and ignorance. Whether that was about the freedom of Palestine, Climate change, or BLM – tens of thousands of people showed up. I did not expect the cause of war in Ukraine to be any different.

Then, I stood for five hours with 30 people on George Square in Glasgow, on the second day of the war in Europe. I felt shocked, utterly lonely, and unimportant. I could not grasp where everyone was. In order to understand why the liberal citizens of imperialist countries, like the UK, do so little within the Ukraine crisis, we need to acknowledge an ethnic aspect of the power dynamic.

Eastern European nations are at the bottom of the barrel of whiteness. This means that the Ukrainian war can be seen as a white person’s conflict. Yet, at the same time, to most predominantly white nations, Eastern Europeans are also the lowest class in Europe. If independent Ukraine was seen as an equal, this invasion would strike the British to their core. But it doesn’t.

There are more people in shopping malls than in the protests.

Eastern European suffering doesn’t feel close enough to the Western world. We are perceived as the buffer between Russia and the rest of the Western countries. Our sovereignty isn’t perceived as important enough in order to be relatable to the common citizen. When I ask people to visualise what would be the reaction if this war was happening in the US, everybody agrees that the outrage in the UK would be overwhelming.

Therefore, the geographical aspect of this crisis is not truly the issue. The real lack of interest originates in the inability to see Ukrainian, Polish, Lithuanian, etc problems as universal. Why?

We are white enough to benefit from white supremacy but also we are different and stereotyped enough to miss the focus of citizens of imperialist nations. Ukraine’s independence is not considered important enough to impact people who are benefitting from imperial safety. Ethnic discrimination is real, also within whiteness.

There are also trends within the leftist communities, certain ways to be politically visible. There is an expectation towards going to pride, BLM, free Palestine, independent Scotland, etc. Admittedly, all of these are incredibly important topics, that should receive as much coverage and

presence as possible. However, why do these issues receive so much more attention from the liberal British person than war in Ukraine?

The reason is keeping up appearances. It is frowned upon not to care. Because it is racist to not show up. Because the liberal community expects you to.

If we indeed protested for human beings and systemic change rather than the optics, the difference in social engagement would not be as painfully wide here.

I have been trying to understand the overpowering feeling of isolation that appears when talking to Western citizens about this crisis. When being surrounded by mostly Slavic people in the middle of a worldwide crisis, it became clear. It is the dynamics existing within ethnicity across

whiteness that creates a gap of interest. Through this, Ukraine is not a racial issue but it is not

perceived as a western white issue either. It is distant enough for both sides.

The issue is perceived more through the lens of the sociopolitical impact it has on the economy and western politics, rather than the crime against humanity that it is. This also shows in the hesitations present in political decisions made by the UK.

The first reaction being the disabling of visa applications for Ukrainians while waving Ukrainian flags for publicity. This is a similar process to greenwashing, white guilt, Sainsbury’s trucks at Pride, etc. This is why ethnic discrimination towards the Slavic, Eastern-Central European needs to be urgently addressed and acted against.

Come to protests because you understand the scale of the problem. Donate because you see sovereignty as important. Because you believe in Slavic independence the same you believe in your own. I don’t need you to show up. I don’t need you to learn and educate others. Ukraine does. Being human does.

Kasia Tym is a Polish artist and activist living in Glasgow. IG and Twitter: @kasiatym and

www.kasiatym.com

Tomorrow, Saturday March 5, Glasgow will stand with Ukraine. Join the protest from 12pm on George Square to show your support. Alternatively follow this link to support Help Ukraine Emergency Appeal, a fundraiser on behalf of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain.

https://gofund.me/22b0fbf1

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