Rosemary Adaser: Finding A Voice And Using It To Be Heard For The Mixed-Race Irish

December 10, 2020 00:55:21
Rosemary Adaser: Finding A Voice And Using It To Be Heard For The Mixed-Race Irish
The Plastic Podcasts
Rosemary Adaser: Finding A Voice And Using It To Be Heard For The Mixed-Race Irish
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Show Notes

Rosemary is the founder and former CEO of AMRI, the Association of Mixed Race Irish, a campaign and support group with members in Britain, Ireland, the US and China. Born in Ireland to a white mother and Ghanaian father, her childhood was a series of foster homes and industrial schools. After moving to London at the age of 20, she gained a Masters in Social Policy and worked in Social Housing before forming AMRI.

Hers is a remarkable story of fighting injustice and seeking visibility in a society that has for too long ignored or neglected her and others like her.

Plus Tommy McLaughlin and Liam Thompson of Leeds Irish Centre do a double Plastic Pedestal.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 <inaudible> Speaker 1 00:00:21 How you doing I'm Doug <inaudible> and you're listening to the plastic podcasts tales of the Irish diaspora. My guest today is Rosemarie Edesa founder and former CEO of the association of mixed race, Irish, uh, campaign and support group with members in Britain, Ireland, the U S and China born in Ireland to a white mother and garner and father. Her childhood was a series of foster homes and industrial schools. She has a master's degree in social policy and cares for her daughter and granddaughter in West London. It's a full life story. So we begin with the founding of Amery, the association of mixed race Irish, Speaker 0 00:00:57 But eight 55. I, if you're like, I recognize that there was something missing in my life. And it was simply the fact that I had completely ignored my Irish heritage since I left Ireland. And I went to Salomon Reedy and Phyllis Morgans. I was women survivors network, and I met this group. It's like 80 women, um, or a little older than me, some, a little younger, and they were talking about institutional abuse and it occurred to me that actually my story wasn't reflected. And even when both your hair and on the steps of the door in Ireland, formally apologized to survivors. I didn't feel that apology because I knew that we just weren't part of any narrative. So that's actually what got me going. And I met a couple of ladies there, um, age 55 meeting women, mixed race, Irish women from the same background as myself. We met for coffee afterwards. And that's when it was a kind of, yeah, me too unique to, to the idea of home, because I don't know what the three of us share similar experiences and we were widely dispersed throughout Ireland. What was that about? What if we could share a similar experience, how many others were there? So that's actually, that was the impetus for me, starting off at mixed race, Irish and going forward Speaker 1 00:02:33 With a couple of other, other women there. What did you do? Speaker 0 00:02:37 Um, it was very confusing because I wasn't particularly political. Um, but using friends within on your group, we established relationships with key TDS in on, and I was really clear that we needed to have a cross party support. It couldn't be either being a gay, all green party. Um, it couldn't be just one. It would have to be cross party support and thanks to, um, it was Dominic Hannigan actually, XTD who arranged or a cross party group of TVs to meet with us. And that's actually what started the ball rolling. So we own enormous debt to Dominic Hannigan who was then TV. I don't know which part of Dublin, I don't, I don't know which part of Ireland he was from, but we absolutely need to acknowledge and thank Dominic Hannigan. Um, we met all TDS and I prepared a document, which I shared with them. Speaker 0 00:03:46 And we was bluntly outlined the kinds of trauma that my community had endured while in industrial schools and explain to them why we felt strongly that our story had a history. It is, was part of the survivor narrative and ask them to just support us while we asked the Irish, just asked Irish society to just listen to us and just say, you know, there were different communities within these industrial schools, mother and baby homes, Magdalene laundries, we are here. And we, we would like our story included in the narratives, not taking away from any other narrative, but it is about saying, um, yeah, we were there too. And I have the records of the, uh, oldest mixed race, Irish member, um, of Vesper in fact, from 1902 that's before the formation of the Irish state, but she was in best bird, which was then a workhouse. All these institutions were formerly work houses. And when the Irish government, um, became its own state, they simply converted them into industrial schools without the full, with thinking that the English were doing, they were basically work houses. Speaker 2 00:05:14 Did you encounter resistance? And I don't just mean institutionalized resistance, but also resistance from members of the, the, the mixed race Irish, um, to, to telling that story. Speaker 0 00:05:24 Um, not really if I'm honest, because obviously before I embarked on this course of action, I asked the community, look, this is what I trying to do. Are you up for it? And I got an overwhelming response. Yes. So within the mixed race, Irish community, within those of us who have any contracts within Irish, industrial schools, mother, and baby homes and magazine laundries, the feeling was, yeah, this is slightly scary, but yes, we too feel that we have been whitewashed out of survivor narratives. So I didn't get that kind of pushback from my own community. And that was, that was a critical cause. Had I received any kind of pushback? I dropped it there and that, because this has never been about me. Speaker 2 00:06:16 And what about from the Irish institutions themselves? Speaker 0 00:06:19 No, no, they don't talk to survivors. They, they don't, they have never even apologized to survivors. You've got the Ryan report and 19, uh, sort of, um, 20 years ago. Um, and they've never responded. They, they insist on maintaining a Catholic response to all kinds of criticism, which is, it doesn't exist. It's not there. I reached out to them. I never got a response. They just won't engage. And I think that's going to bite them in the future because they have an important role in the healing of survivors. Many of whom are deeply religious, but their refusal to engage with what was, and still remains a deep hurt for the survivor community is at the very least on Christian. Um, also I'd suggest that it is, it's simply demonstrates that the Catholic church in Ireland has always been about protecting the institution, the Catholic church as a lot less to do the welfare of its flock, uh, much more to do with the reputation of their institution, which frankly right now is entrenched. So I think this is a really bad move on their part. So, yeah. Nada as a response, Speaker 2 00:07:51 Do you think the, the fact that you, uh, uh, based in England rather than Ireland made your job any easier? Speaker 0 00:07:59 Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Um, I I'm in Tang that we couldn't have started off mixed ways, Irish, and then the association of mixed race Irish had we been in Ireland, we just couldn't have. And actually it's not just about location. It's about distance. I spent most of my life in the United Kingdom and I had reached a level of psychological distance from Ireland, which has enabled me to think more objectively about the issues going on and on. And, and it also meant that, um, I, I felt safe in the United Kingdom as opposed to being in Ireland where even six, seven years ago, and the church still has a massive hold in our society, but I think it's much more to do with my psychological development in the 40 plus years that I've been in Ireland. It wouldn't have happened in, it wouldn't have happened in autumn. It could only have happened within the aspirin within the United Kingdom. And let's not forget that for many people within the United Kingdom and in America and across the globe, we fled Ireland for various reasons, you know, so we fled because of a hurt that our society imposed upon us. And it wasn't always about, uh, being an institution. It had a lot had to do with unemployment poverty, and Ireland has always had a national historic hole, which is to export it's unwanted predominantly to the UK. So no, it could only have happened in, in the UK. Speaker 2 00:09:47 When you say that there's a white washing and I refer back to the, um, the, the interview you did, um, with, I think it was the Irish times, um, about five or so years ago. And, and, and you talk about, um, there's, there are many who still want us and the racism to be airbrushed away. Do you think that's still true? Speaker 0 00:10:05 No, I think what's been amazing has been, uh, an understanding by, um, Irish society that actually given the horrors that our society has had to confront. Is it that impossible that there would be this tiny minority who would also have had their own story? Um, and I have found a welcome and an acceptance by the survivor community because they know if it happened to them. What is so outrageous about our claim that had happened to us? Plus many of us knew us. They saw us in these institutions. They saw us in magazines over this whole. It was a modern baby homes. We were there. It's just that nobody told a particular story. And I think that the important bit was for us to step up and say, we're here, we're here. So, no, um, I considered that as a community. We've been blessed by a welcome, not just within the survivor community, but within Irish society. More generally, Speaker 2 00:11:20 There's been much more in the way of acknowledgement recognition and discussion of the history of the, the mixed race Irish in the last few years than we've ever seen before. Do you think there's a turning point there, or do you think there's a kind of gradual thing Speaker 0 00:11:32 Gotta be gradual? You know, when you consider that the Island was a theocracy in all, but name for its first 90 years of embryonic formation? I think that we start again, there is that bit over, it's actually really, really exciting and important is the number of younger, mixed race, Irish without my kind of baggage, they don't have my kind of baggage. They are Irish men and women who happened to have mixed ethnicity or multiple ethnicities. They don't have the kind of baggage. And they're also saying, Hey, where Irish, where Irish. So it's, it is gradual because that is the nature of an insular society. And Ireland has been very insular. And I think there's a gradual awareness that actually we need to get on board with certain, um, changes in Irish society. So for example, the marriage referendum a couple of years ago, I mean, that was sort of exciting. Speaker 0 00:12:47 The repeal of articulating the constitution really, really exciting. So in the grand scheme of things, Doug, we're a minor, we're a minor plus. There are some many of us in Ireland. I mean, let's not forget 17, 17% of the Irish population was born outside of Ireland. So I don't think, I think it's, I think it's gradual, but I think that absolutely the Baton has to pass to the younger generation who don't have the kind of baggage of my generation and they are wonderful. They're bright. They are in every sphere of Irish society from the bin man, the barrister to the likes of Ms. Hazel to Lord mayor of Dublin. I mean, she's amazing, but she's been accepted. I noticed like the racism she's had to deal with and you have, um, the national, um, uh, newspaper, the independent coming out and saying, this is unacceptable. That's the way to go. And that that bit has appeared really rapid in the last year that has appeared really rapid at times. It's about like a drip, drip, is anyone going to just drip, drip, but you've now got newspapers like the Irish examiner, the other times, the journal, uh, I was independent and they're all slowly recognizing that we're not a threat. We're not taking people's jobs. We want to be part of Iris society. We are very proud of our Irish heritage. It, what is the problem? Speaker 0 00:14:32 You know, that we are being embraced dogs. I know that's really, long-winded such a big question. Speaker 1 00:14:39 <inaudible>, you're listening to the plastic podcasts. We all come from somewhere else. Follow us, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Rosemary Anissa has talked about her childhood in detail with the Irish times. And you can find a link to her interview with them on our website, www.plasticpodcasts.com. But I wanted to talk about her arrival in Britain at the age of 20. Speaker 0 00:15:09 Um, uh, it wasn't as scary as a lot of people might think because the robberies had prepared me for this. It was still scary. I remember arriving at Heathrow airport because not for me, the boat there was truly ever the snow was going to go into plane. It was my first airplane flight. I know Doug, I know the snow and it took me two hours to find my way out of Heathrow. I'd never traveled outside Ireland. And I remembered, um, having a fistful of top winning pieces because they were in circulation getting to the phone, a phone box and phoning Catholic hostels. And there were a lot of Catholic hostels, which took in the immigrant Irish. And I found one in Victoria and I took myself and what will be considered an overnight travel bag, which contained my entire worldly possessions to the hostel. And that's how I started. Speaker 0 00:16:17 Um, it wasn't about fear. It was about, um, I've made a decision to leave Ireland. I have no clue about where I'm going, but I am going, and I'm incredibly grateful to the religious for having those hostels. I sometimes think though, you know, dismantling those hostels has been, has had a major impact on homelessness today because in those days you could rent a room. Um, you got a breakfast and an evening meal, but didn't allow you to stay in doors. You had to get out though. You had to be working, but that was a really, really good discipline. Uh, so, you know, I'm just, I'm just grateful, but that's actually how I started my life in the UK. I know nobody, Jesus. I was so great. God almighty. I was so green, but I think, um, I also had an innocence. I also had an innocence that I didn't think people were unkind or crude, and that absolutely saved me in years to come. Speaker 0 00:17:22 One of the things about being, um, an immigrant or as the Irish love to call it undocumented, they don't call. They don't call the average in the United States and immigrants, illegal immigrants. I use the term documented the English used the term ex Pat. I wasn't either, but I think one of the things you most missed is the idea that when you're back home, there's always a plate of food for you and a crotchety old review to lie on. If you're homeless, it's just there, you know, enough people that even if you're very hard on your luck, the, I was welcomed as such. They might not welcome you, but they're going to go, yeah, they'll shove a bowl of soup, bit of bread, and there's a city. We'll give you two nights, get on with it. You don't have that when you leave on. And, and I think that's the bit I found the most disparate disturbing. Speaker 0 00:18:20 I understood very acutely that whatever happened to me was entirely my responsibility. That's an immigrant worker. So what was the first job you got? The first job I got was in, um, an international company actually that was in, uh, Mayfair. It was called homeless, telling an international company, gorgeous premises. Now, one of the things, one of the reasons I got the job was because I had trained as a GPO telephonist in Ireland. And, um, as a, to let them know that you didn't have to see my face that was in this room in a back room, fielding phone calls. And those days you didn't have the kind of technology, you know, I'm going back to the seventies, 1976, 77, you had the old fashioned switchboard. You're the ones with all the, with all the plugs. Yeah. You had all of those. And I was an expert at that and I also had an assault Irish accent, and nobody could tell from my accent that I was black, there was always a case of you sound different, different, different, um, I know your accent, I know your ex and I'm Canadian and they go, yeah, that's it, that's it. Speaker 0 00:19:38 And we'd move on. That was my first job, actually. That was my first job thoroughly enjoyed it. Um, very nice people. I was very lucky because it was also a time when British companies did not employ black people front of house. They just didn't because as I experienced in Ireland, we'd scared the customers. Um, so I was very lucky and I always remembered, um, you know, they had, uh, they had an army of cleaners for this important prestigious international company. They're all black and they all arrived the back entrance. I arrived in the front entrance because I was a member of staff. And these ladies noticed me and they would leave me extra biscuits for my tea time. And it was a, it was a subtle recognition that they understood that I had a position, not at the back gate. And I always remembered and valued that. But yeah, almost telling me the building is still there. It's gorgeous, beautiful point, colonial building. Speaker 2 00:20:49 What was it like? I was just, it was just occurring to me. And we'd go because we were talking about the changes that have taken place. So they resolved just in recognition of mixed race, Arjun Island itself over the course of a few years. And I think in 1976, 77, it's a completely different land in Britain, particularly with regards. So Speaker 0 00:21:07 Totally. I mean, I, you know, people dispute the term, no blacks, no dogs, no Irish, you know, no blacks, no Irish, no dogs. Um, personally I fulfilled the criteria. Um, it was a time of great difficulty. We'll talk the IRA bombing campaign. And it was a tremendous hostility towards the Irish in the UK. I didn't look Irish, so it wasn't directed at me, but it was a very, very scary time to be Irish in the United Kingdom. And I know many, and I was lady who took elocution lessons to try and rid myself of an Irish brogue. And it was necessarily because you wouldn't get a job. If you had an Irish accent. Life was really, really hard for the Irish in Britain, in the seventies. And like it's very easy, 40 years later to almost dismiss it. But these brave Irish men and women are our forefathers. Speaker 0 00:22:15 The Irish today don't have the same level of racism. In fact, they don't have any that entirely integrated as they've done in every society across the world, especially America. But back in the day to be Irish in Britain was touching. And you could only survive if you move into a heavily dominated Irish community like Kilburn, which is where I went, by the way, nobody believed I was Irish, but hell I wasn't one white people or Hanwell, there were sort of conclaves of Irish people. And that's when most Irish people went. So I was people drew the support from each other, you know, they build up their own community and they are absolutely to be admonished for that because it was incredibly tough being Irish in the UK in particular, in the seventies when the bombing behind woman campaign happened on mainline on, on mainland UK. Speaker 2 00:23:22 But then you also have the, the, the fact that you're black and in England during a, during, during the seventies, which is the rise of the national front and let's face it. So there's a, there's a fair amount of racist jokes going on on TV and things like that. So you've got the, you, you, you got another aspect. Speaker 0 00:23:39 Yes. I mean, I think by my upbringing in Ireland prepared me very well or the racism of mine, my experience in the UK, because I grew up in a very racist Ireland, we might think, well, it was just ignorance. It was way more than that. There was an ideology that was attached to any black people. The fact that there were more black people in the UK did not remove that racism personally. I was just very well prepared for it. It didn't actually bother me. I didn't get upset. I didn't get offended. Eight was what I already knew. So yes, but what I do want to point out was that throughout this period, it always been, uh, you know, the dispossessed, the dispossessed Irish exported to the UK, hooked up with, um, the Africa to beans who by virtue of their color role automatically dispossessed didn't matter that come over on the wind rush on the boat, they already dispossessed. Speaker 0 00:24:49 And if you look at it, you listen to a couple of documentaries by David on a goosey. In one episode, he talks about the absolute terror the British government had about the Africa beans. Do I looping the Bridget stock and bill was a symbiotic relationship between the dispossessed Irish, the hated Irish, who by the way, and this is really, really, I always laugh at this. All the stereotypes directed at people of African descent were absolutely try it out on the Irish. So the pig lips, the laziness that drunkenness all of that, the Irish got that first, there was a symbiotic relationship. Both of these groups met to get a lot of the move to slam natural fat because that's where the factories where they could build communities there. They also had kids. They also had more kids like me. So there is a really big community of mixed race, Irish kids in the UK. Speaker 0 00:25:54 They work together to, um, if you like, they work together to forge through anti racism laws because, and again, a lot of people are get that. I was, people were designated a, um, a protected, uh, ethnic group on the Irish census. It's still there by the way, because down to the effort, if you look at the British centers, it actually has a Cigna has an entity called Irish. That didn't happen by chance. It happened because the Irish people fought for, um, a recognition that they suffered a great deal of racism, no different, well, a little different wasn't as visible until they open their mouth. You know what that's that entering? You can send us. Census is still there. It's one of the reasons that I feel very strongly, that we don't have entrance. They are census, you know, you've got African, you got Chinese, you go to Asia and you got traveler. Speaker 0 00:27:02 You go to Irish, but my community is listed on the other brackets, including mixed race, close brackets. That's just insulting. You know, we're actually othered on the Irish census and we are the oldest community of African descent in Ireland since the formation of the Irish state. But we don't exist. We also know in line with Britain that Britain has the fastest growing demographic in Britain is the mixed race. I know that's also happening in Ireland, but because we don't warrant, we don't deserve an entry into the Irish census. Nobody has figures, nobody has figures. And that to me is a grievous wrong. That needs to be rectified for next year's census. We don't exist in Ireland that just Speaker 1 00:28:04 <inaudible>, y'all listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora. If you're new to the podcasts, or even if you're not, why not subscribe to us simply go to our website, www.plasticpodcast.com and pop your email in the space, provided at the bottom of the homepage. One complimentary email click later, and you'll be updated every time a new podcast comes out. We'll be back with Rosemary editor in a moment, but now it's time for the plastic pedestal, where I ask an interviewee to raise up a member of the diaspora of personal or cultural significance. Today, it's a double bill with Tommy McLaughlin and Liam Thompson of the Leeds Irish center with one nomination. Each Speaker 0 00:28:53 Mine would be my mother bombed down to London, made the way up to stoke stoke David come somewhere else. But she, she was located in with a nice family and fair play to that family that took her in. And she stayed there till I was born just after the Christmas of 1941, that January 41, and then eventually met up with dad about two or three months later. And then towards the end of 41, I brought up along with all the down the pitch coming into leads. And in 1954, took a pub here in Leeds, iconic pub, 10 bedrooms establishment again. And unfortunately just after two years, dad passed and he gave up. If he couldn't, they wouldn't let her be that then unload of course, or the land lady of the pub. So my mother was a widow. She was a widow at 44 and it tended to have that just me and mother, then we're on our own. Speaker 0 00:30:04 And as I said to me, then, as I say, she, uh, she was so strong and all she wanted was me to do well. And I hope that I have improved well, mine, mine would be more than naturally enough, exactly the same as Tommy's. Cause like I said, my, my mother came over to, to when she was 21 years of age. But my mother is typical of, of all Irish people that came over here that took that step on some foreign soil that, that one step into Liverpool or into Holyhead, um, and into the unknown. And that's what it was like with, with the people that's here. Now that from the time they've come in the plus 200 years of people that's coming to the city of Leeds that step to the unknown and the fats is the proof that the, the, the resilience and the fight that they had got them to where the wanting to be, that nothing will defeat them. Speaker 0 00:31:01 Nothing was gonna, you know, it didn't matter whether it was a w a wall or a pandemic that would have stuck me. Now nothing's going to defeat them. They'll always, they'll always come back and resilient. And that's, to me I'm so proud of, of, of everyone, you know, from, from, from Sharon's family. So it's, it's always family to my family and everyone's family. That's coming here as foreign as, and being accepted that they've accepted into the community to assimilate. They, haven't tried to stand out from the community and be, you know, an enclave on their own. What they've done is, is the join in with everything. And so, so you did, and that's what builds builds a community and builds a city. And every, every place you look in this city, there's a, there's a brick that's built by an Irish person. This, this building here stands on foundations that every one of the artist community built and makes me so proud, so happy. And what we do really does, this is a fantastic, fantastic community. And we should be so proud of everybody. That's not anything to do. You know, everyone, everyone's the most important to me through fulfillment, everyone, Speaker 1 00:32:13 Tommy McLaughlin, and Liam Thompson there. And if you want to hear more of our interview with Leeds Irish center, and why wouldn't you or indeed any of our other interviews simply go to www.plasticpodcasts.com and go to the episodes page. Alternatively, you can find us at Spotify, Apple podcast, or an Amazon music. Now back to our interview with Rosemary Adisa, Rosemead moved into the area of social housing. Speaker 2 00:32:40 We talk about what that meant to her, both as a way of helping others and as a way of finding her own voice, Speaker 0 00:32:46 I think I was well suited for that because obviously with my background, I understood pain very, very well. I also understood, um, the fact that a lot of times people fall down on their luck. All they need is one person that looks at them as a human being, and just says, you know, I'm not going to do the work for you, but I'm going to help you help us out. And I took that approach throughout my, throughout my career in social housing. And I didn't go into proper social housing, um, you know, collect rent that, and the other, I went into what's called supported housing and supported housing was the section of social housing that looked after the mentally disabled, the disabled, um, the street homelessness, uh, Carolee was, and that was a particular passion of mine. Um, and also outreach to the elderly, living in their homes who needed someone to do the shopping. Speaker 0 00:33:53 So that's the area. I focus my energies and it was intensely rewarding. And I felt I made a difference. Housing associations are incredibly important because they cross boundaries. You know, if you're with a council, like Hackney, you deal with social housing issues within that borough housing association. Certainly when I was a senior manager for a housing association, I was working with 13 councils. So we had properties from sorry, right through to slouch. And they fulfill a very important role because they formed, um, a seamless support service, cross boundaries in a way that, um, councils cannot. Speaker 2 00:34:40 And did, did you, do you find that it's like a, one of a better term your outside, the state has made it, made it something that you are more drawn to simply because you are, you are helping others who are also seen as kind of outside of that? Speaker 0 00:34:52 Oh, totally. There's no question about, I felt like, no, I felt like I found a home. I felt like I found, um, an area that I could put my energies into. I felt that I understood the voiceless and I felt that I could help them find a voice. I wasn't going to do it for them, but I know that I spearheaded the idea of, um, you know, tenant engagement in policies for the housing association. And I, I could, I could be quite vociferously on occasion when the perceived wisdom was that we things for you, or we do things to you. My approach was well, know these tenants, nothing wrong with them. If anything, the mental health, it just gives them a different perspective. It doesn't mean they're stupid. You know, they, they, they have a voice they're absolutely entitled to feed into the services that affect them on a day to day level. Speaker 0 00:36:04 You know, you know, those of us in a sorority, we can go home, you know, have wine with our partners, cuddle our kids. But I was always very conscious of my in particular tenants, living on their own, struggling with disability, mental health. And the last thing I wanted was to deny them their voice, you know, the very easy, Oh yeah. It was fun times, happily housing associations, um, and councils I've understood this. And it's now part, I'm not saying I was responsible, not, no, I'm not, but you had enough good people like me with that kind of philosophy, helping to make the change from the ground up, rather than it being a top down approach, you know, chief executives on their 120,000 salaries, what do they know of Mary in a one bedroom flat can't really get out of bed at all? What, you know, helping people find that voice is quite important to you. Speaker 0 00:37:13 Isn't it is. It is particularly because I didn't have a voice for so many years. And I think sort of working with, um, vulnerable tenants for so many years over three decades has helped me articulate and find my own voice. So if you, like, I found my voice through my clients for over 30 years, I found my voice through other kinds, but at some point I just thought, you know what, Rosemary, and this is the thing about a lot of people, the buy of a community, or a lot of vulnerable people were very, very good at biting other people's corner with really good at that. But we really struggled to fight our own corner. We really do. So it's, if you're like the, the 35 years of fighting on behalf of vulnerable, people has enabled me to think, maybe you could just, maybe you could open your own throat for a change and, you know, say what you have to say. Speaker 0 00:38:24 It's not always politic dog. It's not, I opened the left one. Sandra, I'll be honest. I have offended so many people because my guiding dog is it kind of doesn't matter how I say it. As long as I said, um, I want people to understand this. I grew up in absolutely silence. It's hapless, helpless, hopeless victims. The last thing they wanted was a voice. They want us to have a voice. So you grow up, actually not being able to share only shit. You don't even know your own needs are, you know, so we were not granted the social skills dog that millions of people take for granted as part of their, everything, um, social upbringing within a loving family. We didn't have that. You know, so as I said, I, I said, what I have to say, um, people who understand me who know that I have a good heart, don't get offended. Speaker 0 00:39:29 They might say, Oh, you know what, Rosemary, that was good. Strong, and I'll go, Hmm. Yeah, I suppose you're right here comes the apology. Seriously. There's not many people I trust, but those that I do, um, like Dr. Lucy, Michael, uh, particular, my family only, they have the right to go. You know what, Rosemary, you, you're a bit stronger. How, and they'll tell me, they'll break it down for me. And again, it's got to do with the lack of socialization that 190,000. So via was a virus institutions, uh, learned as part of their socialization. Don't question. That was the message. Don't question. Just do don't think, do what I tell you. I think what I tell you. Yeah. I'm do I sound angry? Yes, I am. You find it easy to forgive? I do. And the reason I find it easier to forgive is because number one, I've forgiven myself. Speaker 0 00:40:32 Number two, I have a loving family and I have a couple of really good friends who just accept me as I am. And I think when you have those kinds of variables, it's very easy to forgive. I, you know, I'm also able to reflect, I'm able to reflect and understand that things were different. Things are always changing. Society is always changing situation. Um, epoch change all the time. So if you look at those survivors who were kicked out of industrial schools, mother and baby homes never meant alone because I might act in the fifties in New York, one set of obstacles, those in the sixties and others, those in the seventies and other those in the eighties and other, within the church hierarchy, it has been a lessening of severity throughout those decades. I consider myself fortunate that I was kicked out in the seventies. I'm not sure if I were to survive in 60, has been kicked out. And I, I do know women who were, um, in the sixties, uh, put into a van, taken to a corner street. The van opened, they were thrown out and said, bye, see ya. Speaker 0 00:41:50 I had to get home alive. You know? So yeah. I don't think I'm, I think I'm actually a naturally forgiving person. I think the difference is that I now think about why I forgive rather than, um, promoting a Catholic doctrine of turning the other cheek. It doesn't matter if somebody's blind, you drop kicks you in the face. You forgive. That's a difference. I think about it now. And that's what the Catholic church programmed me to do. It did not matter what indignities I injured, turned the other cheek, Rosemary, forgive them because they knew and I'm going well, saw that for game as the oldest, I don't do that anymore. I'm likely to bite right back at you. If you insult me the term survivors come up an awful lot. Do you see yourself as a survivor? I see myself as my friend, Mary Harney or sister, I don't see myself as a survivor because for me I've survived. Speaker 0 00:42:53 Yes. You'd sort of go industrial schools. You actually it's a lot more than that. I resisted being dragged into a mindset of hopelessness and I use that my resistor voice to speak. You know, I grew up in an Ireland, which didn't accept me as Irish. They just didn't. But also my African identity identity was stripped away from me. There were no Africans around me. I didn't have an identity. Um, leaving Ireland was absolutely the best move for me because as I said, publicly, I wouldn't have survived. I wouldn't have been saved, but it didn't mean I was going to fold into the Kabyles of the Irish community within the UK, either. Because as far as apps are concerned, they held a very same views that I just escaped from. I was afraid that if I told people I was Irish, I would get that. No, you're not. I do get it on a few occasions. I'd say, you know, I was born and on no, really? Speaker 0 00:44:09 Where are you from? And I'd say, well, I was born and raised in cook County, and this is a refrain. That's still, incurrencey in 21st century on any non-white Irish, immigrant, Irish person of color and audit. And that's the one thing that always moan about that. The speaking with thick Dublin Cole go away, loud accent, and they'll still get really drunk. And then the person that was in that question is positively offended. When you refuse to give you a life history when you refuse. So I avoided Irish people because I, I didn't trust them because I figured that the Irish in Britain at pretty much the same prejudices of the Irish I had grown up with. So it wasn't part of my plan for my survival to engage with the Irish and Britain. Speaker 1 00:45:12 And yet you say that you kind of reconciled yourself to your RA. Speaker 0 00:45:15 Yes. It took me a long time. Speaker 1 00:45:18 <inaudible> you're listening to the past. He podcasts tales of the Irish diaspora. Rosemary Anissa is a woman driven by various passions for justice, for visibility and for her family. And this last section of our interview, we talk about these passions. And first we go back to the formation of the association of mixed race Irish. Speaker 0 00:45:44 The first time we all met was in 2014, when I had written a submission for the justice equality and the other one justice equality, nevermind, it'll come to me, but I'd written a submission after the door. And Ray was one before that part, as well as that 800 mixed race Irish, um, joined us. And it was the first time a group of 11, 12 of us actually met the first time ever. And there was an incredible sense of connection because for them, it was as momentous and as exhilarating as it was for me, we had never, ever been in a group we'd never met together as a group, as a community. That was, that was an extraordinary moment of connection. I won't forget that ever. I won't forget that ever that happened after our submission at the door in 2014. And we went from there. Speaker 0 00:46:46 Family's very important to you, isn't it? Oh, incredibly. So I didn't have one growing up. So yeah, it's really important. Um, and it's not like, um, you know, I think it's just my opinion. Most people take the families for granted. I can usually say, that's my bro. That's my sister. That's my mom, my dad, my uncle, my granddad, my equal, you know, my dreadful grandmother. They have boxes. They have a history. I didn't have any of that. So I created my own family. Um, what is entirely down to my own families? Um, uh, I dunno, sense. Um, love, um, not like what their normal, I'm not. And they have understood and forgiven me for so many bad things I've done and they've allowed me to trust them as I trust them. And trust is a massive issue for any survivor. You know, I know survivors who will say I have X number of children and none of them talk to me. I've been incredibly blessed. My children do talk to me. They do support me. They're not about giving out to me. They're not above that. This is what families do. You know, you piss them off and they fit right back at you when you go, huh. Or I feel an apology coming on and how hard do I have to grow up? Um, but yeah, family's very important to me. I, I have buy beautiful grandchildren who know me, the children coworker older two 17 year olds will twins. They'll be 18 in January. Speaker 0 00:48:48 I have a 15 year old granddaughter in cold. They are stunning. But the important thing for my son and his wife, Joyce fabulous woman, is that they know about that. Granny, I am not the black granny in the closet. They know about me. So they know the history, my daughter and her two babies, they know me. So, yeah. Family's important. Critical. Do you think the future is better for them? Yes. Unquestionably unquestionably, because we all have a very, very tight family bond. Um, there's no question, especially today that the, the obstacles I faced growing up in Ireland just don't exist in on, and today that there are some, there are some, I'm not gonna, I'm not going to whitewash or black watch that. But if I look at the grandchildren, they're like third generation, they are used to having so many different ethnicities and language as part of the social makeup. Speaker 0 00:50:02 You know, I was a one-off, it's not the case for them. So they are, they are absorbing, um, the hatred multiculturalism word as a measure. Of course I don't question it. It's just, it just is what it is. And they've been incredibly surprised to find that one of the little friends has been called a bad day because of a skin tone or because of their ethnicity. Absolutely. It's better. There's still a lot of work to be done. You know, that's not going to twist it. There's a lot of work to be done, but the otherness, the isolation that I, and many others like me grew up, not just in Ireland, but within the UK. Um, it's just not there. Um, our children and their children have competence in their own identity that just wasn't present when I was in Ireland. I want to camp with the UK. Definitely. Speaker 0 00:51:06 That's beautiful. Um, one final question, which is the question I ask, um, uh, pretty much every interviewee, um, which is what does being a member of the RFD aspirin mean for you? It's a very friendly, friendly club and it it's inclusive and it doesn't matter what your particular entry level is. So what I love about the Irish in Britain is the many, many charitable works, which are they don't condescend, but that there, if you look at the pandemic, the pandemic, or I know you've got so many Irish clubs up and down the country, Leeds, Manchester, Irish, Irish in Britain, and they're out there delivering food parcels, phone calls, um, it's incredibly inclusive to the most vulnerable. It won't let any of you slip by the same token. There's another arm is the business arm, which is fighting, which is incredibly impressive. And I like being part of that diaspora. Speaker 0 00:52:24 The, I mean, I think it'd be fair to say that until, uh, my community arrived on the scene, people of color, weren't part of that, the aspirin, but it has been joyous to see how they have reached out to people of color who are Irish, you know, and you've now got, which is wonderful. You've now got this chapter in America, which is African-American Irish, who to book given the very broad history, uh, between the Irish and the enslaved African in America and incredibly fraught history. But that's now a thing in America. Um, so I don't feel that I'm on my own anymore. You know, I've got this American, uh, community who can now begin to trace their links with Ireland was degree of pride. Um, I remember back in the nineties meeting an African-American, I went from New York and he was costed with bizarre reserving ghosted and sort of more as a tax me. Speaker 0 00:53:39 I hate that in a, everybody pokes fun at me, I think was something like Fitzgerald or something like that. And we spent like three hours with me just talking him through my was connections, African Irish connections at the end of which it was a lot calmer. That was over 30 years ago. Now I was diaspora include African-Americans. We have an Irish ancestry that is amazing, you know, and you've got, um, they say there's something like 18 million people globally who will claim an Irish connection. When now you've got the African-American contingent massively swell. Given the, as I said, often times fraught history, but there is an era and there is a, there is a forgiveness. And I do think that we just need to forgive and understand that what happened then happened, then we all have free will. And it's how we choose to use that is within our gifts. Speaker 1 00:54:47 You've been listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish DS breath with me, Doug <inaudible> and my guest Rosemarie Edison. The plastic pedestal was provided by Tommy McLaughlin and Liam Thompson music like jump to that. You can find this www.plasticpodcast.com. Email us at the plastic podcast, gmail.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the plastic pod covers is our sponsor using public funding by arts council, England.

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