Black Lives Matter in Ireland Too

“Where are you from?  Haha, no, where are you from? No… Where are you REALLY from?”   

I’m tired man, TIRED. Light is finally being shone upon daily struggles of black people in Ireland and all over the world and we exhausted.

I feel the death of George Floyd, which lead to a spike in the BLM movement across the world and social media, has brought up a lot of past traumas and memories for black people. Traumas we decided to forget in order to protect our peace and sanity. Personally, it brought back up a lot of anger towards I held myself. I’m angry at myself for not speaking up sooner, angry at myself for laughing along, angry at myself for making excuses for their ignorance; angry at myself for not slapping a MFer sooner. 

When a security guard publicly embarrasses your brother by falsely detaining him for a robbery which he did not commit, you gotta tell yourself it’s just a misunderstanding, right? When a guard pulls your car over, filled with you and your black teammates, for “speeding” on the motorway and proceeds to ask how a nice car can be afforded and if we all have jobs, you gotta tell yourself it’s just routine, right? You tell yourself all this to avoid being accused of playing the ‘race card’. When in reality, it is about race.

When we enter a store and immediately the security guard stands up and conveniently needs to go for a stroll to keep an eye on us. When someone asks us what our fathers do for a living and the answer isn’t either A) A taxi driver or B) he’s not around, and you can see the surprise on their face. When a black person is good at a sport, we’re suddenly “blessed and athletically gifted” but when a white person is good at a sport, they’re “hard workers”. Shit, we work damn hard too!

Yeah, all that is about race. Racial prejudice and preconceived ideas about black people and other POC are evident and they are dangerous.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being black and I wouldn’t change it for the world. It has many advantages. Being black means you usually get extra personal space on public transport because the elderly white woman that just got on the train would rather squeeze in to the packed seats across the aisle rather than sit in any of the three empty seats beside you. People clear the footpath for us by crossing the road when they spot us from a mile away. How kind of them. Also, to the people who feel the need to clutch their bags a little tighter when a black person walks past or steps into the elevator, stop that shit, y’all ain’t slick. We see you.

Would you believe me if I said I was one of the ‘lucky ones’? I was fortunate enough to go to a diverse and multicultural primary school and a pretty diverse secondary school. Thinking back on it now, it’s rather comical when the teacher talks about any sort of racism or slavery and everyone in the class head turns around to look at you.

WTF you looking at?  

There wasn’t a lot of black people in my secondary school, but the small amount that were in my were in my school? Yeah, they weren’t people you’d wanna fuck with. I’m not saying there were no racists in my school. I’m just saying if there were, they knew better than to voice it.  Most of them did anyways. There was this one kid. I’ve only ever been in one physical altercation in my life but I’m sure that kid won’t be throwing out the N-word again anytime soon.

 I was lucky enough to play multiple sports with the majority of people I played with being white. So, I would have been well known in the community. I feel my sporting abilities and active participation in my local communities’ act as a shield against direct racial slurs and, being honest, part of me feels guilty now because I know that not all black people have that same shield.

What is it about the N-word that excites white people so much anyways? There are so many other words in the English language, why is it the one word we ask you not to use that you feel the need to debate? And tell me why you think you should be able to say it? Honestly, I don’t care if it’s in a song or not; don’t say it.

Educate yourself on the history of the word and maybe then you’ll realise black people aren’t overreacting by telling you not to use ONE WORD! Man, one of the songs I hate most on a night out is “Freaky Friday” because I know exactly what’s about to go down. There’s a part of that song where the N-word is used about 15 times in 10 seconds. I always remember the times being smack bang in the middle of good aul’ McGowan’s being the only black person in sight surrounded by several drunk white people. That song comes on and you can hear every lyric of that 10 seconds being screamed out. It always seems to be a little louder than every other lyric and, man, my skin just crawls.

But what can I do? Not gonna confront all of them, am I?

I remember 8 years ago when Trayvon Martin got killed, I was left in a state of awe. I began to research black history more than ever and I remember being heartbroken by my findings. I was left feeling scared and confused, as well as uncomfortable in my skin due to its colour, something that was out of my control. I was left questioning myself, left thinking “maybe they’re right”. I pride myself in my confidence and my ability to self-love, so being left in the mental state I was after my research, I can only imagine what other people could have been feeling.

As black people, I feel we are generally loud and happy people and we voice it with our energy. If they like us, they “love our energy and loudness”, and if they don’t like us, we are “animals and should be returned to the zoo”.

Racial micro-aggressions are very real and I wasn’t always aware of them.

“Why do you sound so white”? white because I speak correct English? “What do your people think of that” what people huh? “You don’t act like a normal black person”

Define a normal black person?

“Your name is too hard to pronounce can I call you…”

Nah, don’t call me at all.

These are all comments I have received and it’s crazy that people say them thinking they’re compliments…wild.

I was surprised to see how surprised a lot of Irish people were to discover that there is a lot of racism on our beautiful Island. It is only a small minority of people here who are racist but they still have the ability to cut deep.

Up until about 2 weeks ago my biggest fear was the people who hide behind troll accounts on Twitter, dishing out racial slurs, being people in positions of power in real life. I feared that my kids would grow up in a society where they didn’t have equal opportunity because they look different to the majority. After seeing the numbers of people out protesting across the globe, but especially walking with thousands of other Irish people from all races, that fear has been put to ease. Times are changing, things will be different, we are taking a stand. I’m now filled with hope and looking forward to a better future for all.

We must keep talking and keep educating ourselves, and each otther.

Black Boy Joy.

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