An Irish Instagram account documenting the struggles and the successes of black people growing up in Ireland has gone viral in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.
The Black and Irish Instagram page was set up on June 3 and now, just two weeks later, it boasts more than 23,000 followers while page co-founder Femi Bankole has appeared on national television to talk about the new phenomenon.
The page posts multiple daily posts documenting the varied success of black people in Irish culture and society.
From intercounty GAA players to Irish dancers, the Black and Irish page successfully highlights the integral role black people play in Irish culture.
However, the multitude of profiles also chronicles the subtle (and sometimes overt) racism that most black people have had to face at one point or another while growing up in Ireland.
The profiles have highlighted many different forms of racism in Ireland, including incidents like the lack of black representation in certain professions, racial profiling of black students in Irish schools and the occasional use of the n-word and other severe racial slurs.
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My name is MaryJane Obijuru, I’m from Dublin and I was born in Nigeria. I’m 20 years old. . I moved to Ireland at the age of 6. It was a big transition for me to go from living in a place where everyone looked like me to being one of the only black people in the whole school. Growing up in Ireland had its ups and down. When I first moved I did experience quite a bit of racism, although throughout the years Ireland has changed. As Ireland grew culturally so did a lot Irish people. . I am currently going into my last year in University for Radiotherapy. In practice there is a lack of black people and poc. Which is why I am excited to dive into the professional world and be the face that represents people who may feel under represented in the medical industry. . I hope that Ireland can continue to grow and become more welcoming not just to black people but to all cultures. ——————————————————————————— Thank you for sharing your story @mjobij ❤️ ——————————————————————————— #blackandirish #blackirish ☘️✊🏾
A number of contributors say that they were frequently asked questions like "where are you really from?" while one contributor said that she was even egged on account of her skin.
Femi Bankole, who co-founded the page along with Boni Odoemene and Leon Diop, said that the trio set up the forum in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
He said that all three founders had experienced racial abuse growing up in Ireland and that they were upset when they heard some Irish people say that the Black Lives Matter movement was not an Irish issue.
"While growing up in Ireland, the three of us had experienced multiple racial incidents and felt we needed to create a platform to get these stories out there and bring to light the racial issues in Ireland," Bankole told IrishCentral.
Bankole said that the page has three goals; to enable progressive conversation about racism, to celebrate the success of the black community in Ireland, and to act as a launchpad for change around racism in Ireland.
While Bankole says that Ireland is not as racist as countries like the UK or the United States, it is not good enough to simply be "not as bad" as other countries.
"I always say being 'not as bad' as other countries on such an important issue isn't good enough. We're Irish, we're progressive and we can and must eradicate this issue."
He said that the Irish Black Lives Matter protests that have taken place since George Floyd died after a white police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis have been very encouraging.
The large turnout at each protest from a variety of different races highlighted how strongly people feel about the issue of racism in Ireland and around the world, according to Bankole.
He said that the three founders had no idea how the page had gone viral so quickly but that the large number of contributors highlighted how many people had encountered racism in Ireland.
"We honestly don't know. We're just here to facilitate the conversation and give people a platform to share their stories. The stories clearly resonate with the public which can be clearly seen in the comments. It's great."