- 09 Dec 21
Olivia Chau shares her thoughts and experiences as part of 100 Voices: #AllAgainstRacism.
When I was growing up in Limerick, in the ‘80s and ‘90s, there were very few POC living here. Limerick was very, very white. I was one of a bunch of kids who were half-Irish, half-Chinese. My sister and I didn’t look as Chinese as the other kids, but people would call us little China dolls, etc. As we got older, we were exotic, different. We didn’t look like anyone else.
What would be considered casual racism now, wouldn’t have been back then. The inevitable question, “So, where are you from? No, where are you really from?” – I shudder at those words, roll my eyes, I never want to hear them ever again. I had people call me all kinds of derogatory terms growing up, pulling back their eyes into slits. My Mum taught me from an early age to never let anyone call me names or make fun of me for being different – but I hated confrontation so I would say the “I’m just going to ignore them” line.
As I got older, this happened less and less, because I surrounded myself with people who wouldn’t do that. In comparison to what people from different nationalities – people who come to Ireland for work, for a better life – have to put up with today, I was lucky. I am hopeful, though, because I can see young people from all different walks of life, hanging out and just living their lives. It’s so great to see.
As a whole, Ireland would benefit from different cultures; it would make our country more robust. Ireland was stripped of its identity for so long. Now we have it back and can keep adding to it. No one is trying to take away what we have. They just want to be a part of it and maybe add a little spice.
Read Part 2 of 100 Voices: #AllAgainstRacism in the current issue of Hot Press:
Special thanks to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission for their support in this project.