IMELDA MAY’S powerful poem You Don't Get To Be Racist And Irish is set to be displayed on billboards across Ireland.
The Dublin singer’s anti-racism poem will take centre stage on 200 billboards across the country.
It’s all to coincide with the launch of Rethink Ireland, a new equality fund set up to help those most affected by inequality.
Announcing the campaign, Rethink Ireland pledged to "support organisations & groups that empower marginalised communities and tackle systemic inequality."
Speaking to the Irish Independent, May explained more about the message behind the poem while expressing her delight it had been chosen to front the campaign.
She said: "We are all human and so must show our humanity to each other, otherwise what are we?
"I'm delighted that my poem is being linked to this campaign.
"I'm really glad that the poem has sparked some conversation and I'm grateful that I've had the words to be able to write it.
"But I think at the moment, now is not the time to hear my voice. It's time to hear the voices of those that need to be heard."
Today at 11am we will launch our €3m #EqualityFund supported by the Peter Kinney & Lisa Sandquist Foundation & the Government of Ireland. We will support organisations & groups that empower marginalised communities and tackle systemic inequality. Visit https://t.co/fwHkFVPHXG pic.twitter.com/QrMem3t9Kp
— Rethink Ireland (@Rethink_Ireland) July 13, 2020
In the wake of George Floyd’s death in the US and the nationwide protests that followed it, people across Ireland reflected on their country’s own issues with race.
It led to mass demonstrations in Dublin and cities like Galway and Cork as well as acknowledgement among leaders across the political divide that change is required.
May’s poem offers up a unique insight and perspective on the issue.
It served as a wake-up call and reminder that Ireland’s own history of being on the receiving end of oppression makes racism on these shores inexcusable.
“You don’t get to be proud of your heritage, plights, and fights for freedom while kneeling on the neck of another,” May writes in a pointed reference to Mr. Floyd’s death at the hands of a US cop.
“We emigrated, we immigrated. We took refuge, so cannot refuse when it’s our time to return the favour,” she states at another point in the piece, reminding people across Ireland of their duty not only as citizens but human beings to do better.
These are my words but not exclusively my feelings. I’m glad I can express a shared sentiment.
I’m overwhelmed by your response. There’s a lot of love in this crazy world after all.
Thank you.#YouDontGetToBeRacistAndIrish pic.twitter.com/2GD5b5Nk6X
— Imelda May (@ImeldaOfficial) June 6, 2020
A powerful response to the historic events, You Don’t Get To Be Racist And Irish can be read, in full, below:
You don’t get to be racist and Irish
You don’t get to be proud of your heritage,
plights and fights for freedom
while kneeling on the neck of another!
You’re not entitled to sing songs
of heroes and martyrs
mothers and fathers who cried
as they starved in a famine
Or of brave hearted
poets and artists
lined up in a yard
blindfolded and bound
Waiting for Godot
and point blank to sound
We took refuge
So cannot refuse
When it’s our time
To return the favour
Bodies crushed and swollen
unholy tokens of Christ, Nailed to a tree
(That) You hang around your neck
Like a noose of the free
Our colour pasty
Our accents thick
Hands like shovels
from mortar and bricklaying
foundation of cities
you now stand upon
Our suffering seeps from every stone
your opportunities arise from
Outstanding on the shoulders
of our forefathers and foremother’s
who bore your mother’s mother
Our music is for the righteous
Our joys have been earned
Well deserved and serve
to remind us to remember
Still labelled leprechauns, Micks, Paddy’s, louts
we’re shouting to tell you
our land, our laws
are progressively out there
We’re in a chrysalis
state of emerging into a new
and more beautiful Eire/era
40 Shades Better
Unanimous in our rainbow vote
we’ve found our stereotypical pot of gold
and my God it’s good.
So join us.. 'cause
You Don’t Get To Be Racist And Irish.