Roddy Doyle’s ‘The Commitments’ pays tribute to the Irish identity and their identification with the culture and music of the African American experience. “I’m black an’ I’m proud” is just one funny line and a fine moment in an extremely touching film.
It is also far more insightful than most people know. Your history books like to play the “White Guilt Card”by focusing on the horrors inflicted by “Whitey” in the form of African slavery and the extermination of the Indigenous Peoples. But the Irish suffered both of these fates.
Colonial slavery is largely the origin story of Black Africans in the New World. What is totally ignored is that, proportionally speaking, Ireland suffered far more under the yoke and whip of slavery than did Africa.
In 1625, King James of England sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. Between 1641 and 1652, half a million Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Yet another 82,000 (mostly women and children) were sold in the Virginia Colony and Barbados in 1650. 2000 Irish children were sold in Jamaica, some to black masters.
In fact, Irish slaves were often treated worse than their black counterparts. This was simply a question of economics. An Irish slave went for about 5 sterling while a Black could cost up to 50 sterling. The Irish received the most grueling and dangerous work, as they were more expendable.
They sale of Irish slaves went on up until the British ended the practice in 1839.
Anyone who thinks that New World slavery was uniquely an African experience is mistaken. It’s not their fault, their history books forgot to mention this White-on-White action. But it’s true. The Irish New World story is no stranger to enslavement, abuse and extermination!
Hey Obama! where’s my Guv’ment reparations and casinos?!