• Maria Matskevich

Could Freedom of Movement Help Eliminate Discrimination?



Talk of diversity and inclusion got a lot of traction in the last couple of months and had encouraged me about where our world might be heading. The cases of Black Lives Matter, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other instances that have managed to garner media attention had forced companies to face the prejudices and unfairness that is present around the world. But there is yet another injustice that is not being addressed and barely ever does.

I, by no means, want to deduct from the important conversations that are happening right now. Still, I feel that it is necessary to speak about the injustices of immigration laws every chance I get because that is the issue that I have chosen to focus on. We can only pick a few that we feel passionate about, and at the moment this one is mine.

The difference with this issue is that often not even the companies themselves are at fault. Each country has passed laws, and organizations have to deal with them just as much as individuals. Both sides face immense difficulties because someone, somewhere, decided that you’re allowed to be discriminated against based on the country where you were born. Based on something you had no control over. Based on something you did not choose. Sounds familiar?

If this offends you and sounds like a “first world problem” or one that we should take care of “once bigger issues are dealt with” I am here to tell you - it’s not a first-world problem. It’s an entire world problem. It’s not a small issue – it’s an enormous one. One that could potentially solve many others. Let me ask you this - how much less racism would there be if we could all freely travel and relocate wherever we felt like? How racist could anyone be when they have friends from all sorts of backgrounds, with all different skin colors, coming from countries all around the world? How much more culturally educated would we be as a whole? How much innovation are we missing out on because people with potential may not have the resources to realize it?

I was lucky enough to study in an international school and university where we had students from the UK, US, Spain, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Romania, Latvia, Australia, Colombia, Venezuela, Switzerland, Thailand, and many, many more. I am not just naming countries here that sound exotic when put next to developed countries in our world. I know people from each of these countries and let me tell you what I know for sure. If I were to ever be in politics, if it were ever up to me to decide who gets to come to my country or who my country should go to war with – I could never take an action that would be detrimental to the representatives of these countries. Why? Because I know them. Because it wouldn’t be easy to say, “I don’t want to let these people in.” Or, “we’re going to send our tanks to fight on their land.” Because it wouldn’t be some abstract people I’ve never met. It would be people I’ve lived with, grew up with, shared meals with, and traveled with. It would be people who have supported me throughout my life, and I would have to weigh all THAT in my decision-making. So yes, it wouldn’t be easy. And dear god, it shouldn’t be. Decisions like THAT shouldn’t be easy. Decisions that impact millions of lives need to be appropriately weighed and considered from all angles. Because when you say it’s nothing personal – that’s not true. It’s very personal for many people. But that’s what internationalization and freedom of movement do. They force you to know people from countries that are sometimes extremely culturally different to that of your own. They force you to fall in love with these people. They force you to become friends. And once you become friends – how discriminatory could you be towards them?


This post originally appeared on The Freedom of Movement Project website.

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© 2020 Maria Matskevich