Rosemary Adaser: ‘Two-thirds human’ — growing up black in Ireland’s institutions

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Europe, History, Media Archive, Social Work on 2020-11-01 01:59Z by Steven

Rosemary Adaser: ‘Two-thirds human’ — growing up black in Ireland’s institutions

Irish Examiner
2020-10-31

Rosemary Adaser


Rosemary Adasar, founder of the Association of Mixed Race Irish.

Ahead of the publication of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes report and as Black History Month ends, survivor Rosemary Adaser describes how mixed-race children were at the bottom of the ladder in institutions here.

OCTOBER was Black History Month, everywhere in Europe, it seems, except Ireland. In the UK, Black History Month is firmly established and, in the last two years, we have begun to celebrate a Black and Green History Month where the historical connections between people of African and Irish descent are celebrated; it is an exciting new development. In June, Black Lives Matter went global, bringing new meaning to Black History Month.

One of Ireland’s best-known mixed-race people was the late, great Christine Buckley, a heroine of mine and a fellow industrial school survivor. Christine was born in 1950s Ireland, as was I. She was far more sensible than I; she married a lovely Irish man, enjoyed a career, had beautiful children, and changed Ireland forever. That was not to be my path.

In the Ireland of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, colourism existed. Efforts to get the good people of Ireland to foster, not adopt, us “difficult and hot-tempered children, especially the girls”, according to a 1966 Department of Education official memo, led to the placement of advertisements in newspapers mentioning how light a child’s skin colour was.

In Margaret McCarthy’s 2001 book My Eyes Only Look Out, one of the interviewees among six mixed-race Irish children fostered to an Irish couple commented that “the darker kids had it worse”. I was one of the darker kids, and I did have it worse…

Read the entire article here.

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In Irish orphanages, being ‘coloured’ was a defect. I wish Mam had lived to see Black Lives Matter

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Europe, Media Archive on 2020-07-05 20:03Z by Steven

In Irish orphanages, being ‘coloured’ was a defect. I wish Mam had lived to see Black Lives Matter

The Irish Times
2020-07-04

Jess Kavanagh


Jess Kavanagh with Lorraine Maher of I Am Irish

Black Irish Lives: Multiculturalism is seen as new. But Ireland has generations of mixed-race people

I’m not a fan of weddings, but I made sure not to miss my cousin Jamie’s big day. Jamie and I always got along; racially ambiguous like myself, he looks more indigenous Latin American via Dublin 3 but is actually southeast Asian-Italian. After the wedding another cousin, annoyed at her lack of an invitation to the dinner, is spitting some low-grade venom as I roll a cigarette. I tune in at the worst moment.

“I don’t know why anyone ever told you your grandfather was a doctor. He was a sailor – and everyone knew that.”

I’m taken aback. I don’t react. If you’ve experienced racism you know this moment: a surreal outburst, wildly out of context. It happens so quickly you tend to be left feeling only confusion and mild amusement. The rage creeps in hours, maybe days later.

My biological grandfather was a Nigerian medical student and my biological grandmother was a nurse when they met. The story of their affair changes. Until I was in my 20s I was told he was a student at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland when they met, but that has shifted at times to them meeting in the UK. My mother was adopted as a newborn from a religious-run institution in Blackrock, Co Dublin, and my aunts and uncles – Nigerian-Irish, Indian-Irish, Filipino-Italian and North African-Irish – were also adopted as babies…

Read the entire article here.

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Belgium has apologised for its abuse of mixed race children – it’s time for Ireland to do the same

Posted in Articles, Europe, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Work on 2019-04-18 00:03Z by Steven

Belgium has apologised for its abuse of mixed race children – it’s time for Ireland to do the same

gal-dem
2019-04-11

Charlie Brinkhurst Cuff


Image via Métis Association of Belgium / Facebook

The apology from Belgium’s prime minister, Charles Michel, for the segregation, kidnapping and trafficking of as many as 20,000 mixed-race children in the Congo, Burundi and Rwanda, is long overdue. Forcibly taken from Africa to Belgium between 1959 and 1962, métis children born in the 1940s and 50s were left stateless. If you’re not aware of the atrocities of colonialism (Belgium was responsible for the deaths of between 10 to 15 million Africans), this type of identity-destroying abuse might feel hard to comprehend – especially situated in such recent history. But in the UK, we have our own unresolved issues with the treatment of dual heritage children slightly closer to home: in Ireland.

The correlations between the cases are striking. In Belgian colonies, many métis were brought up in Catholic institutions or orphanages, away from family and sometimes removed from where they were born. “These children posed a problem. To minimise the problem they kidnapped these children starting at the age of two… The Belgian government and the missionaries believed that these children would be subjected to major problems,” Francois Milliex, the director of the Métis Association of Belgium, told RFI.

Similarly, in Ireland, it has been documented that mixed-race children were left to rot in mother and baby homes and industrial schools in the 1940s to 60s. The Catholic Church was involved – nuns and priests would often run the homes and schools. “To be Irish was to be Roman Catholic. To be Roman Catholic was to be Irish,” says Rosemary Adaser, who co-founded the Mixed Race Irish campaign and support group for victims of the homes and schools. “It wasn’t uncommon for the Roman Catholic Church to send over its priests to the Irish community in London and give them lessons in morality.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Ireland’s forgotten mixed-race child abuse victims – video

Posted in Autobiography, Europe, Media Archive, Religion, Social Work on 2017-02-26 01:00Z by Steven

Ireland’s forgotten mixed-race child abuse victims – video

The Guardian
2017-02-24

Hen Norton, Dan Dennison, Mary Carson, Laurence Topham, Dan Susman and Mustafa Khalili

Rosemary Adaser was one of many mixed-race children considered illegitimate who was brought up in institutions run by the Catholic church in Ireland between the 1950s and 1970s. She tells of the abuse and racist treatment she suffered, and returns to her school in Kilkenny for the first time in 40 years and attempts to answer questions about her past

Watch the video here.

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‘I had to sneak around trying not to be seen’ – What growing up in Ireland was like for three mixed race Irish people

Posted in Articles, Arts, Autobiography, Europe, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-10-16 01:07Z by Steven

‘I had to sneak around trying not to be seen’ – What growing up in Ireland was like for three mixed race Irish people

The Irish Post
2016-10-15

Erica Doyle Higgins, Digital Reporter


(Pictures: Tracey Anderson/Getty)

FOR the first time during Black History Month, an exhibition celebrating mixed race Irish has gone on display in the London Irish Centre.

The #IAmIrish Project celebrates diversity, while opening the dialogue on being mixed race and Irish.

As part of the Project and Black History Month, three people told The Irish Post their experiences of growing up mixed race in Ireland

Read the entire article here.

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“I was not allowed any identity at all. That is very, very damaging for the soul.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2015-07-20 02:06Z by Steven

Nuns told her that “no man will ever want you, because you’re black”; a career counsellor said she should “consider taking man friends” to support herself. “I was told I wouldn’t amount to anything and should consider prostitution,” [Rosemary] Adaser says.

Her black background was vilified and even denied, she says, and she was constantly told that she would never be wanted in Irish society. “I was not allowed any identity at all. That is very, very damaging for the soul.”

Kitty Holland, “Mixed Race Irish: ‘We were the dust to be swept away’,” The Irish Times, July 18, 2015. http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/mixed-race-irish-we-were-the-dust-to-be-swept-away-1.2287196.

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Mixed Race Irish: ‘We were the dust to be swept away’

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive, Religion, Social Work on 2015-07-19 16:56Z by Steven

Mixed Race Irish: ‘We were the dust to be swept away’

The Irish Times
2015-07-18

Kitty Holland, Staff Reporter


‘I lived in a state of pure terror’: Rosemary Adaser, co-founder of the group Mixed Race Irish. Photograph: Joanne O’Brien

Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation urged to confront the racism endured by children taken into care and abused because they had a non-white parent

In October 1958, when Rosemary Adaser was admitted, as an 18-month-old, to a mother-and-baby home in Dublin, her admission notes described her as “illegitimate and coloured”. Fifteen years later, when she was pregnant and sent to a mother-and-baby home in Co Meath, they described her as “rather mature for her age; accepts her colour well”.

“My file is peppered with references to my colour,” she says. “The racism was relentless and brutalising. My formative years were devastated by it.”

Adaser is one of about 70 mixed-race people who have come together in the past few years as Mixed Race Irish, a campaign and support group. They believe they were taken into care because they were mixed race, that there was a different unspoken “policy” for them and that they suffered an “extra layer of abuse” because of their racial identity. They say racism was endemic, systemic and systematic, in the care system and in Irish society, and that their experiences were particular to them…

…Like other mixed-race Irish children in the mother-and-baby homes, she was never offered for adoption. She believes this was policy, based on a presumption that nobody would want to adopt a mixed-race baby. Instead she was fostered, or boarded out. “When I was four I was sent to a couple in their 60s. No, they weren’t vetted. They were invited to select a child. People were paid by the State to take in children. This couple had no pension, and I was an income source.

“The woman was vicious. I have a clear memory of fearing the gardening gloves, because she would go and cut branches from the rose bushes and cut the flowers off. She called me filthy and nasty and would strip me naked. I was four, remember, and she would whip me with the thorns. Years later I still had scars on my back, buttocks, stomach, legs, arms and soles of my feet, but not my face,” Adaser says. “The whippings were so bad I was hospitalised. After 18 months I was returned to St Patrick’s.”…

Read the entire article here.

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‘The abuse we suffered due to our skin colour is being airbrushed from Irish history’

Posted in Articles, Europe, Media Archive, Religion, Social Work, Videos on 2014-11-07 03:19Z by Steven

‘The abuse we suffered due to our skin colour is being airbrushed from Irish history’

TheJournal.ie
Dublin, Ireland
2014-10-22

Nicky Ryan, Staff Reporter


Members of Mixed Race Irish before the committee today. Source: Oireachtas.ie

Mixed Race Irish is asking for the Government to recognise the abuse they suffered in State-run institutions.

IN A EMOTIONAL appearance before an Oireachtas committee, mixed race survivors of institutional abuse in Ireland have called on the Government to recognise the suffering they endured.

The group, Mixed Race Irish, believe the alleged racist abuse they experienced in these institutions is being “airbrushed from Irish history”. They say that few, if any, records exist of mixed race Irish in any State institutions.

“Our research suggests this racism was endemic throughout all the institutions attended by our community,” co-founder Rosemary Adaser told the Justice Committee.

“The nuns showed us films of missionaries going to tame the ‘savages’, and we were told, ‘look at that, they are savages, that’s what you are’,” she said.

Co-founder Carole Brennan said that parish priests “would single out mixed race children and abuse them.”

“We believe we were treated differently, resulting in inequality, in these systems due to one simple fact – the colour of our skin,” she said…

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed Race Irish group seek redress amid claims of racist abuse in industrial schools

Posted in Articles, Europe, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, Social Work on 2014-10-22 21:44Z by Steven

Mixed Race Irish group seek redress amid claims of racist abuse in industrial schools

The Irish Examiner
Dublin, Ireland
2014-10-22

Noel Baker, Senior Reporter

Mixed Race Irish group seek redress amid claims of racist abuse in industrial schools

Mixed-race Irish who spent time in industrial schools will today claim they faced physical, emotional, and sexual abuse there because of the colour of their skin.

The Mixed-Race Irish group has 71 members, many of whom now live outside Ireland. Representatives of the group will appear before the Oireachtas Justice Committee today as part of a campaign aimed at official recognition of their experiences and access to redress.

Founder members Evon Brennan, Rosemary C Adaser, and Carole Brennan are set to address the committee and are expected to outline how there has been a failure to acknowledge the historical and ongoing suffering of mixed-race Irish children placed in State institutions throughout Ireland between the 1940s and the 1980s.

They claim mixed-race children who spent time in the industrial school system have had their lives blighted as a result, from poor adoption and educational opportunities, reduced job opportunities due to institutional racism, and memories of neglect and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse because of their skin colour.

The group say records relating to their care are not readily available as the Irish Census did not begin to record ethnicity until 1996.

In all, the group believes as many as 150 mixed-race children were placed in State industrial schools between 1940 and 1980, including in St Patrick’s in Kilkenny, on the Navan Road in Dublin, and in Letterfrack in Galway

Read the entire article here.

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Campaign highlights abuse of mixed-race Irish in institutional care

Posted in Articles, Europe, Media Archive, Social Work on 2013-12-12 03:22Z by Steven

Campaign highlights abuse of mixed-race Irish in institutional care

The Irish Times
Dublin, Ireland
2013-11-18

Marie O’Halloran, Parliamentary Reporter

‘I was in a class all of my own, beneath everybody else along with the dogs and the pigs’

A campaign has been launched for recognition of mixed-race survivors of institutional abuse who believe they suffered racism while in State care.

Rosemary Adaser and Evon Brennan of the campaign group Call to Action Mixed Race Irish, have 20 members, but believe there are about 200 Irish people of mixed race who were in institutional care here between the 1950s and 1980s.

Ms Brennan, a London-based singer-songwriter, said they were looking at the “colour-specific nature of abuse”. That abuse “has been under the radar all these years” and they want an acknowledgement that “Ireland in the ’50s and ’60s was a racist country”…

…Ms Adaser said: “The key point is that if you were mixed race back in the ’50s and ’60s you were 99 per cent sure of being put in an institution.”

Put into State care at the age of three months, she was in homes on the Navan Road, Dublin, and spent 11 years in St Joseph’s, Kilkenny, where her baby son was forcibly taken from her by the nuns when she was 17.

‘Performing monkey’

“I have absolutely nothing good to say about it. I was the only black girl there, seen as an oddity, treated as an alien, at best a performing monkey, at worst a savage, a savage to be civilised.

“I was in a class all of my own, beneath everybody else along with the dogs and the pigs on the farm. That’s where I was told I belonged.”…

Read the entire article here.

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