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Image / Editorial

Racism in Ireland: Black Irish women speak out on social media about their experiences

by Lauren Heskin
03rd Jun 2020

Taking the time to listen is the first step in educating ourselves. Black women share their experiences of racism in Ireland, the hopes that they will no longer be alone in carrying its burden.

“People look at England and they look at America and they say “tut tut Donald Trump, tut tut Brexit.” Look at the direct provision in your own country first, and understand that you are acknowledging and affirming those institutions because you are doing nothing. You do nothing. What gives you the right to shake your head and take the moral high ground, you’re doing nothing.”

These are the words of Limerick rapper Denise Chaila on Instagram this week, in a harrowing video about the exhaustion of being Black in Ireland. The self-editing, the emotional gymnastics, the gaslighting and belittling of your experience because it makes us uncomfortable. Better to rebrand it as ignorance and quickly brush it under the rug.


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As we watch protests unfold in the US and around the world including here at home, we must also grapple with what racism in Ireland looks like. Because it is undoubtedly here.

What it must feel like, the emotional and physical weight of it. Privilege is an absence of barriers and white Irish people struggle to appreciate or understand the privilege of that absence, seeing a straight open road ahead where others see a wildly swerving track of blind corners that careen off cliff faces and trolls ready to pounce.


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So many Irish people of colour have stepped up this week, been open and vulnerable about their lives, in the hopes that this moment won’t just remain a moment, but instead become a movement.


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No one should bear the responsibility of educating us on racism. To educate yourself is a verb, it requires personal action and accountability, including your own research and learning.


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But listening is a verb too, actively listening. That is the first step in learning. Take these words as a gift, and compensate and amplify them where you can.


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And so we listen, we take in these words. On racism in Ireland. On the pain that we cannot or refuse to see. On direct provision. On hate crime legislation. On creating safe spaces. On doing the work when nobody is watching.


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And then we mobilise. As singer-songwriter Loah puts it, “If you are white your voice is very loud. Never underestimate the power of your voice. Use it and direct it well.”

Featured image via @the_amanda_ade on Instagram

Read more: 12 books to educate yourself on systemic racism

Read more: Irish women tell us why they marched for Black Lives Matter

Read more: How coronavirus, Amy Cooper and the murder of George Floyd have converged to create a firestorm of protest in the US

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