The Irish are the Blacks of Europe

Have you ever heard this phrase? It’s a loaded one, to be sure, and the meaning generally depends on both the speaker and the listener. Some use it as a derogatory statement, others as a parallel between both the historical and current plights of “people of colour” and the Irish. (We have a colour as well.)

Personally, I take it as a compliment.

However the reader takes it, it couldn’t be more true.

I’m not planning on writing a book on this particular subject, but if you would like to read at least one, I would recommend “How The Irish Became White” by Noel Ignatiev.

What I would like to write abut are the parallels between what is going on with the African-American community in the United States and the state of affairs in Ireland, predominately in the northern six counties.

(Side note; in the States, some “people of colour” prefer to be referred to as “African-American”, while others find that term overly politically correct and prefer the word “black”. For the most part, everyone prefers, above all, to be referred to by their given names, as they are human beings.)

Cutting to the chase.

In the U.S., a state of emergency has been declared in Baltimore, Maryland, in the wake of widespread rioting following the death of Freddie Gray, aged 25. Mr. Gray, after being taken into police custody, suffered severe spinal cord injuries, lapsed into a coma, and died a week later, on 19 April. His death was one of many highly publicised incidents involving police officers and “minorities”. An estimated 5,000 National Guard troops are expected to be deployed to Baltimore and a curfew has been declared.

Martial law, essentially.

What does this have to do with Ireland?

Everything.

If you take a gander at PSNI statistics, (and believe them), you will see that violent crime, particularly crimes of sectarian/racist nature, rose dramatically proceeding the 1998 Good Friday agreement, and then fell quite dramatically afterwards. But you’d never know it if you’ve watched the news lately,or been outside your house. Nearly every day there are reports of racist attacks on immigrants, rioting by young people in housing estates, and of course, multiple paramilitary-style attacks by both loyalists and nationalists, including bombings, attempted bombings, and knee-capping, which is now known by the more politically correct term “limb-wounding”. So, statistics be damned, things are getting a hell of a lot worse.

And it’s not even marching season yet.

What’s the problem? Besides the age-old and obvious, I can give you a couple of little hints;

Poverty plus police equals angry.

Anger can be a good thing, if you channel it in the right direction. You don’t need a map or a GPS. Just look up.

Which requires taking your head out of your ass.

Whether you are black, white, brown or purple, you are a “minority” unless you are wealthy and powerful, at least in the eyes of the powerful and wealthy. Some of these folks like to set you against one another so they can go about committing their own crimes unhindered while the rest of us battle it out with their underpaid, overworked minions who are in the end result not much better off than anyone else.

So you are becoming your own worst enemy and you don’t even know it.

It’s called “divide and conquer”.

We’ve all been falling for it since the Roman Empire. The British Empire and it’s colonial cousin, the United States, have perfected this model of control to an exquisite degree.

So what’s the answer?

Hell if I know.

I do know it doesn’t involve rioting in the streets, burning down your neighbour’s home, or setting off destructive devices.

I have an inkling that it may involve a paradigm shift of massive proportions that would lead to an even playing field. One which would require a change of leadership at all levels. People policing their own communities? Maybe. Ignoring the mainstream media and looking outside your window instead? Perhaps. Following your intellect rather than your instant instincts? Most likely.

As I said, and it’s quite obvious, I haven’t a solution. What I do know, however, is that the Irish are indeed the “blacks” of Europe.

Black Americans in Baltimore are facing an influx of 5,000 armed troops. They are angry and have every right to be, as do you.

You don’t want that in Derry. You don’t want that in Belfast. You don’t want it anywhere.

Breathe.

Talk.

Think.

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9 Responses to The Irish are the Blacks of Europe

  1. I can relate more to your political stories if they are in parallel to what’s happening here in America. As much as I sympathize with what has been an ongoing struggle between Ireland and the UK, it’s one which I find difficult to bring myself to read.

    I am not saying that you should cater to the American readers. I just wanted to explain to you where my feelings lie. I don’t mean to be confrontational or for you to be upset; just wanted to be honest.

    I love your gritty stories of you growing up. I also enjoy your humor which I’m not finding in your current writing, but you’ve lost someone, and it may not come naturally for awhile. There’s nothing wrong with that!

    Just keep writing; more for you than for anyone else. I know you’ll eventually find yourself and your smile again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • oglach says:

      I’m smiling now; I understand what you’re saying; I’ve spent plenty of time in the States; I probably understand the situation here better than most; the problem with getting my point across is that it’s a thousand-plus years of history as far as Ireland and England are concerned, and it’s difficult to relate the facts with a sense if humour, but I’ll try. It’s good advice. Thank you.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Another thing I think may help is that everything you write doesn’t have to be put into your blog. I have pages and pages of words which I needed to get off my chest; words meant only for my eyes that I won’t be sharing with anyone else. Perhaps you need to do that if you’re not doing this already? An exorcism, so to speak.

    Like

    • oglach says:

      I’m sorry if that offended you; I got a lot of criticism for it; I am the least racist person you could ever meet. It’s a phrase. Regarding your comment, I wrote three novels and a ton of poetry before I turned eighteen; I burned it. I’m now writing four nonfiction books which I don’t want to be seen until after the inevitable. But again, that’s great advice, and I thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The title of this well-written piece reminded me a shock I had some yrs ago, when I went to a Celtic festival. The same huge tent where various craftspeople were selling costume jewelry and woolens had a historical exhibit, including a repro of a 19th century poster about the size of a 2-page spread in a newspaper. I forget where the poster originally appeared; it was somewhere in England. The poster had a title proclaiming that Irish people were “White Negroes” and a litany of the usual ratcrap that white racists say about black people: that they are dishonest, lazy, and stupid. The poster claimed that Irish people were like that, and even that they looked like black people (apart from their skin color).

    There has been some progress since the 19th century. There is still a long way to go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • oglach says:

      Thanks so very much. I’m happy that someone understood what I was trying to say; it offended a lot of people, which was not my intention; I could have done a better job; no one should be judged by their “race”; there’s only one race; the human race.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a wonderfully thought-provoking post. I am new to your blog and this is my first read of it, but I find absolutely nothing to be offended by, We need desperately to talk about race and cultural differences, to stop seeing each other AS The Other, the terrible and frightening “them”… In the U.S., the problem is too much hiding under fear of offense on one hand, and a sense of entitlement to speak negatively of others on the other hand. We are too eager to build hierarchies of power, and too proud of our own opinions to listen and value what others have to say or feel. We have a perverse need to be better than someone — anyone — in order to feel safe, or good, or secure about ourselves. Sometimes it takes a person we respect to say what so many others are thinking. Sometimes that is a favorite writer or blogger. It takes courage to speak unsavory truths, to inspire others to think about a prickly subject. But that is how we find solidarity in this world, and sometimes, how we find the additional courage to change our own beliefs.

    Liked by 1 person

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