The Fight Against Anti-Migrant Rhetoric: In conversation with Isaac Snow

In 2019, the UNHCR (United Nations Refugee Agency) warned of a rise in anti-migrant rhetoric despite the number of migrant arrivals in Europe actually decreasing to 116,000 in 2018 (down from 172,000 in 2017). The disparity between the rise in anti-migrant rhetoric and the decrease in migrant arrivals in Europe is alarming and exhibits an intolerance that is only being furthered by the current political climate. Isaac Snow is a singer-songwriter who is particularly concerned with this growing issue and has dedicated himself to educating people through his music. Snow has “always had a deep interest in the asylum system in the UK” and has seen first-hand “how unfair the system is and how it can grind people down”. This is particularly topical, given the rising conflict between the Kent Anti-Racist Network and far-right protesters over refugees in Dover.

Snow’s newest single, Why, looks at how “the narrative of the press and politicians in the UK promotes and normalises violence towards asylum seekers and refugees”. When asked why he wrote this song, Snow responded that he was “frustrated” and “angry”, which is conveyed through the dark tone of the song. At the time of writing, he ‘felt like this was a message which is often unheeded and one that needs to be heard’ because it “isn’t really spoken about in music”.

Why choose to talk about it through music, then? Snow believes that “music and political activism go together” because “music has the power to make political issues widespread and musicians have the ability to increase awareness”. He even nods to Stormzy’s activism in relation to the Grenfell enquiry, in which he used his platform as a rapper to fight for social justice.

This parallel of music and politics is mirrored by an alignment of sound and visuals. Snow has paired the single with a video because “a single by itself wouldn’t have been impactful enough”. Most striking is his exclamation that “this issue is a very visual one”. How can a political issue be visual? Snow argues that his combination of sound and visuals “helps to present the issue in a sensitive but effective way”, and the video makes his single more “confrontational”. Having heard the single and seen the video, I would be inclined to agree that the multi-media nature of Snow’s activism is powerful and has much more of an impact than it would if there was a single or video on its own.

Is interdisciplinarity the way to move forward when combating political issues then? The field of Interdisciplinary Studies is always evolving and adapting in the 21st Century, encouraging a crossing of boundaries and disciplines. If, as Snow states, music is no longer enough on its own, then is interdisciplinarity the way to go? Well, if Snow’s single and video are anything to go by then yes, absolutely. The video evokes emotions that the single is unable to, yet without the single the video would cease to exist.

The political climate of today demands activism and requires activists to use whatever platforms they can to bring attention to issues such as anti-migrant rhetoric. The combining of more than one platform, therefore, can only have a positive impact on raising awareness. Snow is keen to acknowledge that it isn’t solely political issues that are important to highlight - his previous work has seen mental health at the forefront. With there being such a focus on mental health in students at the moment, particularly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, could interdisciplinary activism be the way forward for political, social and cultural change?

Snow’s single Why and accompanying video are available to listen to and watch on Spotify.

Images courtesy of Sonnet Music.

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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