Traveller Pride Week- No Hate Speech Movement and NYCI
Pride in our ethnic and cultural identity is critical – it’s like the food we eat and the water we drink, it’s essential to how we live our lives. Sometimes it helps to step outside our normal lives to see how this works.
Being Irish is fundamental to who I am. Here in Ireland, I wear it like an old cosy jumper – lounging around in it and not caring about it very much. When I go abroad it’s a whole different ball game – the jovial indifference that allows me to forget my Irishness is gone – instead I remain constantly sensitive to voice of the other who can, with one single comment or portrayal, fill me with pride or dash me in shame solely based on what they say – good or bad about the Irish. How must it feel to live with that sensitivity all your life? I’m guessing that Travellers must have to live with that – always listening out for the voices that will acknowledge them and those that will knock them down.
In the face of this there is only one route forward – to consciously and proactively instil a true sense of pride in Travellers especially from a very young age. For a while I lived in New Zealand where I did Maori studies. A concerted effort was made in the last few decades to revive pride in Maori culture. This involved teaching young people about their culture, revitalising their language, supporting education and fighting for their rights. In time, Maori have gained greater respect and higher standing in law and governance. It starts with Pride. I believe that Traveller Pride Week is one of the most important events of the year – not just for Travellers but for everyone in Ireland. So much of our focus in the No Hate Speech Movement can be about countering hate speech – It is so much more powerful to prevent it before it starts. Traveller Pride Week has the power to stop hate speech in its tracks. You can’t hate people you get to know and understand.
Blog post submitted by Anne Walsh, Coordinator No Hate Speech Movement Ireland and Intercultural and Equality Officer NYCI