- 20 Dec 21
Lydia Gratis shares her thoughts and experiences as part of the 100 Voices #AllAgainstRacism campaign.
Activist for the deaf community
I went to an all-deaf Irish girls school and all the students were white. I was the first ever Black deaf person in the Irish deaf community. This meant my deaf world was all white and my hearing world was all Black. I never felt like I fit in with the Black community, no matter how hard I tried. Same goes for the deaf community. A lot of my youth was spent dimming my Blackness in the white bubble I was in and hiding my deafness. If you had told me a decade ago that I’d be in the European Parliament in Strasbourg speaking about anti-racism, I never would have believed it. Now I’m one of 28 women chosen to be on the all-Island Women’s forum.
My Irish identity was questioned all the time. I even feel like I have to make my accent stronger in some environments in the hope that people accept me faster. I no longer allow myself to be triggered by the ignorance of others.
I’m optimistic about a multi-cultural society. However, white fragility sometimes means we’re taking 10 steps forward and five steps back. We live in a world where we all know right from wrong – these same rules apply to anti-racism. What we need to see more of is community collaborative discussions and action plans being implemented. Real history needs to be taught to eradicate people’s ignorance and fearful assumptions. We need more Black role-models in positions of authority and in the media. Collectively we can dismantle negative stereotypes that have been highlighted for generations. Many people do better, once they know better.
Read Part 2 of 100 Voices: #AllAgainstRacism in Hot Press:
Special thanks to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission for their support in this project.