“No, no, no, no, no. Where are you really from?”
It’s one thing to be insulted. It’s another thing to be denied.
During this week, I got caught up in the most civilised of Twitter conversations – hard to believe, but they do exist – about the decision to name this podcast after the term “Plastic Paddy”. Like “West Briton” or “New Irish” it’s not only supposed to denote a kind of inauthenticity but also some form of betrayal of what is “proper Irishness.”
One of the participants suggested that language like this led itself “very easily” to racism. They pointed out the bile that Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu has been on the receiving end of. We all took a different stance on the nature of language and taboo but ended up metaphorically nodding sagely and no doubt patting ourselves on the virtual back as to just how enlightened we all were.
Bet you pounds to Euros we were all white.
When you hear Rosemary Adaser (or SuAndi or Elizabeth Anionwu) talk about their experiences not just of being excluded but of being denied the right to identify themselves as who they are – “Where are you REALLY from?” – you can feel like you’re moaning about a splinter in the middle of a minefield. Insults versus injury.
But then Rosemary says something very important. When asked if she’s a survivor, she tells me that in fact she sees herself as a resistor: that she has resisted sliding into a world of despair. That she has instead used the energy of resistance to bring a voice to others and – as a result – find a voice for herself.
“It kind of doesn’t matter how I say it, as long as I say it” is her philosophy and it’s a good one to have. After all, sometimes people need to be offended, just to be jolted into hearing. And there’s always forgiveness if you go too far.
But you can listen to what Rosemary‘s got to say about that in the interview, too. In a voice that is undeniably Irish.