Every Irish person everywhere should 'take the knee'

Every Irish person everywhere should 'take the knee'

I’D TAKE the knee.

I’d take the knee in support of Black Lives Matter.

As an Irishman I’d be proud to. As a Brummie. As a father, as a son. As a human being. For my fellow human beings.

I guess it wouldn’t amount to much. A man in rural Ireland, up a long country lane, far from all the urban centres, nothing but the fields and the wind to witness.

But I’d still do it. After all, in the modern world, no matter where we are, no matter how remote, for good or for bad, we are all part of the world together.

Now more than ever. We are all as informed as each other. We all know what’s going on.

So I’d take the knee. I’d listen whilst my fellow human beings get to tell their story, their account of being alive, of being a human just like me.

With the simple difference being the colour of their skin.

I’d take the knee and listen. I’d take the knee for the close members of my family who are black.

For my brother in law. For my nephew and nieces. For my friends who are black. For my goddaughter who is black. All black here in Ireland, by the way. Black Irish. Black English.

That’s not just a matter of common decency. Though it is truly that too. That’s not just good manners. That’s not just love. Though it is truly that too.

It is more. It is an intrinsic part of this column and this paper.

The Irish Post, in this its 50th anniversary year, is an immigrant paper.

It was founded by immigrants. By an immigrant community.

Now, that is not, by and large, a story of being black, though that may be a part of the story too long ignored.. It is not a story competing with that.

But it is a story of a group of people distinguished from and marked aside by the host community. Signified in their emigration by being outside of the main body of people.

A story of people made to feel different whether they wanted to or not.

Now we’ve all, thankfully, moved on from the ‘Ireland always good, England always bad’ simplicities of old.

But the immigrant Irish who claims never to have encountered prejudice, or at the least being singled out for being Irish, is either extremely fortunate or engaged in wishful thinking.

British hostility to the Irish is not a matter of imagination. It is a matter of history.

So it is not a seismic leap, simply as an immigrant Irish person, to recognise the rightness of Black Lives Matter.

It is a matter of recognising historical fact. It is a matter of having some understanding, however different, however unlike, of our own story.

The immigrant Irish person surely recognises Black Lives Matter. Recognises the rightness of it. Recognises the fact of being on the right side of history. Decency, manners, love and history. Being Irish. All of that leads us to Black Lives Matter.

In the days of Covid we are all conscious of living in a shared world. The global virus has taught us that at least.

Living on a rural Irish lane is still living in the world. And in these days of Trump and division and not so subtle racism and spite we have a responsibility as humans to take sides.

We owe it to our fellow children, women and men. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to people who suffer simply on account of the colour of their skin. We owe it to our own sense of decency.

We owe it to our Irishness. We owe it to those Irish who came before us and experienced bigotry and prejudice just on that basis.

And we owe it too to those too ignorant not to hate, too prejudiced and too bigoted.

We owe it to those unable to see beyond the colour of a person’s skin. And for the prejudice and bigotry and racism in Irish society too. We owe it for that too.

And, God only knows, it’s not much.

It’s a minimal gesture. It’s a token. It’s an offering. But it is something. It is a start. It is the right thing to do. It is the Irish thing to do. Especially coming from an immigrant’s paper.

So we should do it. And we should do it with pride.

Take the knee.