Some food for thought on this St. Patrick’s Day from Irish revolutionary Bernadette Devlin McAliskey. I post this because quite often people like me hear from Irish-North American folks that they know so much about national oppression because they Irish. However, the point is missed that while Irish people in Ireland are indeed nationally oppressed by the British, Irish folks over on this side of the Atlantic, when faced with discrimination from British settlers, were more than happy to shed their status as members of the colonized and adamantly join the settler-colonial game. However, comrade McAliskey, and other revolutionary internationalists from Ireland, have always understood this relationship and have known who their real comrades on this continent are.
I was not very long there until, like water, I found my own level. ‘My people’—the people who knew about oppression, discrimination, prejudice, poverty and the frustration and despair that they produce– were not Irish Americans. They were black, Puerto Ricans, Chicanos. And those who were supposed to be ‘my people’, the Irish Americans who knew about English misrule and the Famine and supported the civil rights movement at home, and knew that Partition and England were the cause of the problem, looked and sounded to me like Orangemen. They said exactly the same things about blacks that the loyalists said about us at home. In New York I was given the key to the city by the mayor, an honor not to be sneezed at. I gave it to the Black Panthers.”