I thought real hard about writing this as a victim of Hate Crime. I am at home in Ireland, my heart is here with my family and friends.
I love Ireland but there are others that hurt me.
They hurt me ‘cause they hate me. That's what Hate crime is. I have a scar on my top lip; each morning I see it when I brush my teeth and incidents often flood my mind. In broad daylight I was attacked in my own hometown and told go back to Africa. I was hit from the back straight to the floor; I got up dizzy just to be knocked down again.... But I got up again ‘cause I couldn't let them see me stay down, I was bleeding, I was hurt, I got up ‘cause I refused to crumble up and just die. I sat and waited for the Garda (police). I sat and waited for the ambulance, I sat and waited for my family. I felt so different to everyone as a black minority and I was being punished ‘cause they could see the difference. Tears flooded my eyes as I sat trying to be strong. I was shaking in shock and yet I remember saying to myself ‘everyone is watching, be strong’. I had been called names a lot since coming to Ireland but when it had the added effect of violence I then felt unsafe. My case against the guys that attacked me was pushed by the Garda, only to be dropped simply by having no witnesses, missing evidence, my own friends refused to testify, and I was made to feel like continuing with this case would destroy someone's life. Those days I really felt alone. My Mom came each day. It dragged on for 5 months. I had just started a job and my boss was beginning to complain and view me as a drama queen. My solicitor had told me that proving the case as racially motivated was going to be tough. My home town where this happened is affluent. No my story did not hit the media. No NGO was there for me. I dropped the case when I heard that one of the guys was expecting a baby and the thought of that baby being born with a father in prison hurt me as I know what it means to grow up without a father. This guy had just come out of prison less than a year previously.
It's been 8 years since those dark 5 months; I can remember that whole part of my life clearly. I can remember all the racist incidents before and after that clearly. How I felt each time. Here is the thing; it builds up. Human rights sometimes are what you hear about in seminars, meetings and not in the streets. I'll be honest, after 14 years of it I am tired. Too much has happened. Hate crime sometimes appears as bullying, I have experienced that in a professional industry. You think you’re being paranoid and you keep ticking on until one day you come to the office, it was the 1st of December 2014 at 9am, and you are told ‘sorry we have changed the company, we will keep your clients though’ and ‘sorry but this happens to companies all the time’. You are the only one let go for no reason and they are not only stealing clients from you but totally discriminating against you and they know they can get away with it just by striking off a company. I have not worked in any industry in Ireland without experiencing hate crime. You experience it every day but you tick on.... But like many I am tired.
I lost 4 young African people this year to suicide. It hurt. It broke me and I kept away from activists, community work, and no hate speech meetings as one of the guys did all that with me and no one would have thought it could happen to him. I reflected on the constant rate of incidents I’ve experienced. How do you speak out and fight when it keeps happening? If you see me, like many, we keep going. Like the day I got racially attacked, you get up, if they hit you back down you still get up lest they think they have finished you....
I really want to say to all victims of Hate Crime, you get up no matter what. You get up! Keep getting up! One thing for sure is you are not alone. I'll be honest you may experience it again and again. That said, know this, every time you get up and keep going look at the scars and say ‘I have strength, I got up’. People of Hate are not stronger than you. It means more for you to keep going after their mess. You are the Strong one and remember you are not alone. Please understand every victim of hate crime has that strength. We are Stronger than our haters.
Tired, broken, battered, scared, tattered, insulted, ridiculed, shamed, pained......and hated. You Get Up!
When you get up what do you do? Well that's another story but it ends well. You win!