This week in America, millions took to the streets to protest the murder of George Floyd, highlighting an unfair justice system that treats minorities unjustly and perpetuates inequality.
I have not published my regular blog content over the past week or so, as I’ve paused to take stock of all that is happening in America today.
To be honest, I’ve struggled to focus on the usual topics I share, celebrating our Irish heritage. I endeavored to write something intentional to grieve the deaths of people in the Black community, who’ve lost their lives purely because of the color of their skin. I struggled to find the right words.
I’ve been humbled and inspired to watch this movement spread across America and around the globe. I usually avoid writing about overly political or sensitive topics, but I decided this issue is too important for silence.
My words may be imperfect, but I wrote a poem to express my support and hope for reconciliation in America. Here it is…
– A Poem of Hope by Mairéad Geary
You stand united and inspired,
Moved by grief and despair,
By tortured memories, yoked to
Centuries of discrimination.
You search for lasting change
In the middle of a broken world,
Longing for peace and justice,
On a pilgrimage toward equality.
Today, let reconciliation take root,
In the recognition of your pain,
Your suffering, and your loss,
On a path you never freely chose.
May your truth and light restore
Our broken bonds and tarnished trust,
Building a bridge of hope over
A river of prejudice and blame.
May the sadness of our past,
Empower the possibilities of our future,
Where we flourish as one nation,
Connected by the potential of our shared dreams.
I support the peaceful protesters across the country, giving voice to the generations of Black people who suffered oppression, discrimination and death. I firmly believe that change must happen. As individuals, we all need to become more aware of our own unintentional complicity in supporting an unjust system.
I’ve contemplated the issue of race from an Irish American perspective, and realized the complexity of the relationship between the Irish and the Black communities of America.
These are two groups of people who suffered for centuries, but one has risen out of poverty and succeeded, primarily because of the difference in the color of their skin.
When the successes of the Irish American community are used to excuse racism, I cringe. When the accomplishments of those of African descent are compared to the accomplishments of those of Irish descent, I am saddened.
These racial comparisons ignore the fact that the Irish could always assimilate into society, could hide behind their lace curtains, and become silent people.
Our Irish forebears in America often buried their identities in their desperate attempts to be accepted. They were only afforded this opportunity because the color of their skin did not set them apart from the ruling classes.
In the past, I’ve mistakenly tried to compare the experiences of both communities in an effort to be empathetic to friends. But the Irish story and that of the Black community are not the same stories. These are two distinct experiences, punctuated by one unmistakable difference – skin color. I now know that to people of color these comparisons are deeply hurtful. Each community has endured and survived hardship, but their experiences should never be equated, and neither should be diminished.
This is a difficult topic to discuss, but I believe we should embrace the opportunity to review and renew our commitments to creating a future based on the values of communication, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Truly supporting these initiatives means looking deeply at ourselves, examining the past, and finding ways to help everyone in this society pursue a brighter and happier future.
My prayer today goes like this…
May conversations about race begin in earnest in America.
May healing and forgiveness spread across communities.
May America reconcile with the sadness and inequities of its past.
And may the true empowerment of the Black community finally be achieved.
Thank you for stopping by, and affording me this opportunity to share my thoughts on this painful and difficult subject.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
Here are some other ramblings about all things Irish and Irish American, which you might like to explore.