We have to avoid ‘integration’ becoming another form of racism | Afua Hirsch

Assimilation is an invidious concept. No one in Britain should have to give up their heritage to fit in

I will never forget the day I joined an English Defence League march in Chelmsford, Essex, in the run-up to the Brexit vote. I went as a journalist, and I wasn’t expecting it to be a comfortable experience. But the most shocking moment was not what I predicted. Instead of threatening me with directly racist slurs, a senior figure at the march told me he wasn’t fussed by my presence. “You’re OK,” he said. “You speak English properly. You know our ways. You’re like us. It’s the others we have a problem with.”

Related: Talk of integration is a sideshow in a society where many feel unheard | Kenan Malik

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We have to avoid ‘integration’ becoming another form of racism | Afua Hirsch