Whilst living in Ireland I have learnt that amongst the love for booze, incomprehensible phrases and the lust for fake tan within the female population… The Irish are mad for their own country and everything it stands for. I’ve mentioned before how if a British person was found draped in the Union Jack walking down their local high street… chances are that fool is gonna get jumped! However if an Irish person was to conduct themselves in the same way strutting down Grafton Street humming the national anthem, they would be patted on the back and bought a pint!
Now although I love the passion, it can sometimes be overwhelming for an outsider. I often debate with my friend on the need to stand up for the national anthem at social events and is it really necessary for every house to be adorned with the Irish flag and bunting whilst the Euros are on. I believe the words ‘tacky’ and ‘grotesque’ left my mouth! But it’s a different culture and whilst I’m living under their roof… I will do as I’m told… to a certain extent!
This all got me thinking… the passion and vigour the Irish put so effortlessly into their own country, why the hell don’t other cultures do the same?! I’m not saying that Irish people are the finest example of how to live your life as a nation of people… but at least they take ownership and pride in their own people. Too many of us sit on the fence and go along with the masses so not to cause a fuss because it’s easier to ‘just go with it’ than stand up and say a big fuck you very much! There is also the unfair judgement that is passed on those who are high on their own culture, religion or race… the judgement society starts hurling at you and labelling you an extremist or a terrorist.
Granted there are certain political groups who are mad on power and scare me somewhat… Pretty sure those white hoods and the burning of crosses are not necessary! And yes, those are the guys who need to pipe down and quit being attention seekers/dickheads… or just menaces to society! So I am not advocating these vengeful idiots who are ‘passionate’ about their beliefs. They are just cray cray! I am talking about ‘regular’ members of society… hopefully like you and I.
The powerful iconic image of American Black athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympic (where both men threw their fists in the air for the Black Power salute) is a fine example of race and political solidarity which was criticised for being ‘unnecessary’. They were ostracised by their peers and were made to look like mentalists by the press just because they were standing up for their own damn rights. It is a ridiculous notion that one can stand up and be passionate about race, gender, sexuality… but in the privacy of your own home please. Start airing your grievances in public and that’s when you get told to get off your soap box and stand in line like the other clones.
I think that we all need to own who we are and where we have come from because when it comes down to it nobody else will. How can we even begin to figure out who or what we are if we can’t recognise, appreciate and respect the elements that fundamentally make up our DNA? Personally I sometimes find Black people reluctant at times to support our own race and it makes me sick. There I said it! Have we all forgotten ‘the struggle’… civil rights, Bob Marley’s rebel music, the London riots in the 1950s… we were all in it together but now ‘we’ has been selfishly substituted as ‘me, myself and I’. If it doesn’t directly affect us, we ain’t interested.
I find that young Black folks bury their heads and bang on about ‘that is then this is now’… ‘stop living in the past’…and ‘were Martin Luther King and Malcolm X gangster rappers!’… or words to that effect. BUT if it wasn’t for all the crazy shit that went on in the past… your uneducated Black ass would still be sitting at the back of the bus. And then unconcerned White folk don’t get involved in race politics because they’re part of the majority so that offers immunity from any of the issues… and other ignorant people declare “But how can I be racist… some of my favourite shoes are black!”… or words to that effect.
But I digress.
I often make jokes about everything and nothing because serious issues make me nervous… and hungry! But when it comes to being proud of who you are and embracing this entirely, then I am an avid supporter. Yes the Irish have customs that often appear ‘odd’ to me, and the Emerald Isle is not all rainbows and pots of gold… but if more of us can muster up some of the pride Ireland seem to have as a complete nation… we may just start moving in the right direction.