The critical role that immigrants are playing on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus in the United Kingdom is being celebrated in a powerful new video.
Nurses, doctors, delivery drivers, teachers, actors and broadcasters take turns reciting lines from Darren Smith’s poem “You Clap For Me Now” in the clip directed by Sachini Imbuldeniya and edited by Ruben Alvarado that has amassed millions of views and made the hashtag #YouClapForMeNow trend on Twitter since first being shared online Tuesday.
So it’s finally happened, that thing you were afraid of. Something’s come from overseas, and taken your jobs. Made it unsafe to walk the streets. Kept you trapped in your home, a dirty disease, your proud nation. But not me. Or me. Or me. Or me.
“No, you clap for me now,” it continues, in reference to the weekly applause that people in the UK are holding for health care workers and others.
The poem goes on to hope that people “don’t forget” the thanks for immigrants once the pandemic is over.
Check out the full video here:
“I definitely wasn’t expecting it to go viral, but am so glad that it has as I feel like it’s such an important message to send out. Not just for the UK, but globally,” Imbuldeniya told HuffPost via email on Wednesday.
“When I read the poem I knew the message needed to be spread as widely as possible,” she said. The video was inspired by a creative brief from the United Nations to “spread messages of positivity, kindness and solidarity during these uncertain times.”
“There’s obviously been some negative comments from a few narrow-minded individuals on Twitter but overall it seems to be extremely well received,” Imbuldeniya added, expressing hope that “after we recover from this pandemic we don’t return to the xenophobia and bigotry that we’ve seen over the past decade.”
Smith and Imbuldeniya are colleagues at Bridge Studio (the creative content agency for the Rupert Murdoch-owned News UK). He said they hoped the video would make a humanitarian point rather than a political one.
“When we emerge from our homes blinking in the sunlight and hopefully freed from the grip of COVID-19, we want to remind people not to go back to old, blind ways of thinking,” he said. “Of assuming that certain jobs are ‘unskilled’ and therefore ‘unworthy.’”
Actor and comedian Tez Ilyas, who appears in the video and whose tweet (above) sent it viral, described its message as “so great and so powerful and so important.”
“It’s amazing how much it has resonated with people around the world,” Ilyas said. “For me it’s so important that people realize that there’s no point clapping for people in your time of need, if you are then going to demonize them if/when things go back to normal.”
For broadcaster Mim Shaikh, also in the video, the message “about solidarity and sticking together especially for all ethnic minority key workers is very important right now because it is these people who are constantly still working so hard throughout this whole ordeal we are currently in,” he told HuffPost.
Shaikh didn’t expect the video to go viral, he said. “But what I’ve learnt so far is that during uncertain times is when your light should shine brighter than ever before.”
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