- 02 Dec 21
Read Richy O’Gorman & Taurayne McKen (of Eye-rish podcast)'s thoughts and experiences on racism in Ireland below.
Richy O’Gorman (Eye-rish)
When I came to England, it wasn’t the English people that were welcoming towards me, it was Black people. I didn’t understand it at the time. It’s only as the years went by that I realised that when the Irish came over, and when the Windrush generation came in the ‘40s and ‘50s, that the “No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish” signs were put in the windows. It led them to come together, to have their own drinking clubs, their own social networks. My missus’ grandfather came over during the Windrush era. He lived in Bristol, and he said that it was just rows of houses with Irish people on one side, and Black people on the other. They were constantly being attacked, so they formed a bond to defend the neighboruhood.
I’d been making the t-shirt for myself since about 2011. It was my own thoughts, how I saw the world. I thought a negative should be turned into a positive. The older generation know exactly what it is. They get it. It went viral in 2016. Someone took a picture of it and it kind of blew up from there. So it’s up to people to interpret it how they want to, but it’s to spur a conversation about race and race relations, and how we get on nowadays compared to how we did before.
I know racism still exists, but the bond between Irish people and Black people has been intertwined for generations. As Irish people, we like to talk anyway. And that’s what’s got us on in the world. We’re nice, welcoming, friendly people. My wife’s been to Ireland maybe 25 times, maybe more, and she hasn’t a bad word to say about the place. Every time she goes over there, she’s treated with the utmost respect. Obviously we do know that racism is in every corner of society, but we need to highlight the good as well as the bad.
Dialogue is key. Speaking to people. And education – like Black history having a bit more space in the calendar than just one month – is crucial. Because obviously Black history is the world’s history.
Taurayne McKen (Eye-rish)
Unfortunately we are getting to the stage of tolerating rather than appreciating. If we look at the Windrush-era in England most people in Ireland might not know that the Irish and Caribbean people formed a bond because of the similar cultures of family, food and music. My grandad has told me many times that Irish and Caribbeans were family. They stood their ground against the racist “No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish” signs in pubs and B&Bs. They defended each other when one community was being attacked. We, as people, must remind ourselves of this and our history together. Race should not be a factor in how we get on with people. Out of one comes many.
This contribution featured in Part 1 of 100 Voices: #AllAgainstRacism. Read Part 2 in the current issue of Hot Press below:
Special thanks to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission for their support in this project.