Environmentalism · identity

One Small Change

If you haven’t already seen Cappabue National School’s adorable video- a rap calling for climate action- you need to check it out now! They’ve made national news in Ireland and are reaching a global audience all the way from the remote village of Kealkil, West Cork. Read more about what inspired the children to create the song and video here.

In the 1980’s my partner Christy and his 5 siblings attended Cappabue NS since it was the nearest school to their family’s rural smallholding. His nieces were pupils in recent years as it’s situated close to the family business, a specialized mail order nursery called Future Forests. He says the small school has changed a lot over the years and wasn’t so progressive back in his day.

As you can imagine, there has been a lot of excitement locally as the press has descended on the area to interview the two teachers and twenty three children involved in the production. While at a playgroup recently, I overheard a few mothers and grandmothers talking about the video. “It’s very international…” one woman said. “The kids weren’t Irish.” She turned to me as if to explain. “Some had lovely coloured skin. And English accents,” she added.

She was an older woman, of a generation when Ireland was still a homogeneous society. I said nothing at the time but continued thinking about her comments afterwards. I realise she didn’t intend to offend me or anyone else. However, it poses a larger question: what qualifies someone as Irish if not their nationality and country of citizenship? Is it a matter of genetics, and if so, how pure (for lack of a better word) does one’s heritage have to be? Although my first husband’s family has lived in this area for hundreds of years, and our children were born in Ireland, they are often referred to as “foreign.”

My partner says that when he was growing up he was told there was a “three generation rule.” He considers himself to be Irish although his parents were both born and bred in England. On paper he may be Irish, but according to the generational rule, only his grandchildren will be truly Irish.

Isn’t it time we move away from such thinking? Unfortunately a segment of society clings to the past and refuses to acknowledge that Ireland has changed. The far right has stoked immigration fears with the Great Replacement theory in recent years. They may be in the minority, but their rhetoric is dangerous and shouldn’t be ignored.

The great replacement can generally be understood as two core beliefs. The first is that “western” identity is under siege by massive waves of immigration from non-European/non-white countries, resulting in a replacement of white European individuals via demographics. The second is that replacement has been orchestrated by a shadowy group as part of their grand plan to rule the world – which they will do by creating a completely racially homogenous society. 

Rosa Schwartzburg- Excerpt from The Guardian

While the woman’s comment at playgroup may have seemed innocuous, the impact of such comments can be deeply felt by non-white children or the sons and daughters of immigrants. After all, such thinking creates divisiveness and perpetuates the idea of “otherness.” The reality is that Ireland is becoming more and more diverse.

Lorraine Maher has raised awareness about this subject with her project #IAmIrish. It has become a movement which gives voice to Irish people of mixed race. According to her website:

It challenges the perception of what it looks like to be Irish and open’s up people’s minds to the wonderful diversity of the Irish people.

Visit http://www.iamirish.org or click here for further reading.

One small change I’d like to see is more inclusiveness, more unity. If we are to tackle global warming, everyone needs to work together. Humanity may be diverse, but we all depend on our precious planet Earth. It’s time differences are set aside and we each do what’s necessary to ensure a bright future.

Not sure where to start? Help the children at Cappabue NS share their message worldwide. Social media is often full of negativity. Let’s help these inspirational kiddos go viral with their call to action. Use whatever platform you have to share their video with friends and family. Better yet, follow in their footsteps: clean up litter, conserve water and fuel, shop local, and do your bit.

Spread the word, get vocal, make it go global…”

*UPDATE* On Friday May 15, 2020 Cappabue NS won the Schoolovision song contest, which is like the Eurovision Song Contest for primary schools. Congratulations to all of the children and their teachers!

Feature Photo by Eye for Ebony with thanks.

3 thoughts on “One Small Change

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