Call Me Irish, Not Just White

San Francisco, CA.

I was always close to my grandmother, although she died when I was pretty young -she made a big impression on me. She was a strong woman and that came through.She had come to the US when she was 21, just her and her sister. They left Belfast Northern Ireland after a childhood of being raided on a regular basis by the British. They landed in New York Ellis Island. The first years were tough but they went on to better lives. They were the youngest of 11 children, and the only ones who came to the US, so I ended up having more relatives spread throughout the UK then I do here.When I got old enough I saved and traveled to the UK, in search of the people I identified with. I think everyone should take this trip, whether you can find your relatives or not-just seeing the country you came from is a learning experience. I learned more about my family history- but also about American History while there. In the UK white people are not just white- but White-English, White Irish, White Scottish, as well as British African, Carribean African, etc. I liked my etnicity being acknowledged, because I am proud of my backround, and that is the side of my family that I identify with. Not only because my dna is over 60% Irish, but because of my grandmother, and my mother. I know even though after that trip it was clear that I was culturally an American, my roots and characteristics passed down, the things we have in all of us that make us different- and add to our American culture, we should respect in everyone. There are racial and ethnic differences everywhere, but nowhere are there so many conversations, or focus on it as here, everyone is fighting to be recognised in their own right- maybe because we are so big, with so many cultures. All of that said -you can’t move forward if you’re always looking back. So take what you know and keep going.


Tweets by Michele Norris