As an African American Woman I am use to being a minority. With Belfast being our first location, I believe my other group members understood how it felt to finally be apart of the minority. To the Ireland natives, we are the ones with accents and not familiar with their culture. While in Belfast I didn’t meet any Irish natives with African decent. However, being an American felt like being a celebrity the entire time. The locals appreciated and respected our reason for coming. Traveling from Belfast Northern Ireland to Dublin, Ireland was an eye opening experience. I climbed mountains, went with out wifi for two days, and saw a lot of sheep. Having those peaceful hikes alone with out any connection to the outside world, felt humbling. Once we got to Dublin I realized that I was still the minority, just inside of another minority group.
When I first got to Dublin a few of us ate at restaurant in Temple Bar. I ordered chips and received fries, which also happened in Belfast but still a different form of communicating than what I am use to. When we left the restaurant, a lady accidentally bumped into my Alex (a young woman on the trip) and we apologized, her response was “You’re not sorry, you’re American.” The conversation ended with her telling me to “Go back to Africa.” I was instantly ready to go home to my mom. Then I remembered I deal with the same issues back home in America on a regular basis. I was never a celebrity and the Ireland locals do not have to feel honored of our presents.
I must say my first day in Dublin was not the best part of my trip. Even later that night a few Dublin natives made a few comments about us “Americans.” The next day, however, began to make a turn for the better. I started to realize the whole point of my study abroad experience.
Some of us met some Irish natives in the African decent community. While conversing with them I learned how different the black community setting is from American black communities. Although they still find a way to naturally separate themselves, they consider themselves to just be “Irish” because they were born in Ireland. One man name Steve and I had a conversation and he said his parents were born in Africa yet he still considers him self an Irish man. In American if you appear to have any form of African decent the population will identify you as an African American, or Black. I couldn’t help but think of Raven Symone and Stacey Dash while having this conversation.
Raven Symone and Stacey Dash are two women of African decent who are American. They are two actresses that I looked up to as a child. Raven Symone was a Disney Channel Star and one of the children from the Cosby Show. Although I personally disagree with her views I can now at least understand where she is coming from. Her experiences in America are different than mine yet the majority of the population will put us in the same demographic of an African American woman.
America has a long history of racial issues that impact today’s society. In Ireland I learned that race is a factor but not as much of an issue as it is in America. I find the race factor to be apart of some of the problems media faces in America. Whether it is political, entertainment or simply just the advertisements and marketing.
Kendall Jenner is an American reality show star who tends to influence the younger generations. This commercial caused so much controversy because the Pepsi tried to hard to reach a diverse group of people but failed. Comments consist of the idea that Pepsi took the seriousness of the civil rights in American and made a joke out of it. America needs more help than Kendall Jenner offering a police officer a Pepsi.
In Ireland I find the advertisements that seek diversity to be a bit more tasteful and effortless. While in Dublin we had a chance to go to the Guinness factory. Not only did I get certified to pour the perfect pint of their find beer, I had the opportunity to learn about their ads and marketing techniques. In this big room a few commercials played. One commercial stood out to me the most. The commercial started with men from the Congo doing hard labor. Then the men cleaned up, put on colorful elegant clothing to go out for a night on the town. While at the bar or pub they were dancing, listening to ethnic beats, and drinking Guinness.
During my time in Ireland I did not notice as much diversity as I do in the States. This ad made me think of the rich dark color of the beer but fun it could bring. Again the marketing and advertising team used their tools to successfully nail a commercial ad. In the states, race is a big issue. When companies try to reach diverse markets they tend to screw up and calls controversy. The media is how we connect with one another, American companies do what they want then try to fix it with apologies and retractions later. After they have already caused to much attention. Even though I identify myself as an African American , I understand what the lady meant by “You’re not sorry, you’re an American.” Compared to her Ireland roots the American way can sometimes come off a bit selfish, especially in the form of communicating.