This post is an aside from my usual chatter on wonderful craft adventures, but it’s something I feel quite strongly about and what is a blog for, if not a platform for getting something off your mind (ahem… and shameless self-promotion, right?!).
On my return from Japan I was surprised to discover that I had been nominated for the Irish Blog Awards. Always good news! I was, however, disappointed to discover it was under the category Best Blog of the Diaspora. Of course, ‘diaspora’ is the most appropriate term for a collective group of people from one nationality living abroad, but in a world where words have such power and meaning, our choice of words have consequences beyond the obvious ones, and those of us making use of popular publishing platforms have a responsibility to be aware of that.
The word ‘diaspora’ has been adopted and twisted by Irish media, government and social actors in recent years, to come to mean something far beyond it’s demographic origins. The promoted meaning of the word, that “Sure, you’re still one of us, even though you’re far away!”, rings hollow for the many families broken up through desperate job opportunities and questionable standards of social benefits at high cost that are driving people out of the country. It’s contemporary use aims to absolve the decision-making bodies of responsibility for the debatable decisions made in the last 20 or more years that led Ireland to the point of mass emigration.
I would love not to be a member of the diaspora. I would give much to live in Ireland, close to my family and friendships I worked for years to make, and without the little hole in my chest that reminds me daily how much I miss them. But knowing what I do about Irish social systems, the education and health systems, I would be mad to return to Ireland now at a point at which I’m starting my family and need security and support from the systems I’m paying to uphold. So, I would give much, but I wouldn’t give anything…
Below is the email I sent to the Irish Blog Awards, asking them to remove my nomination. I’m sad to do so, and it would be easier just to leave it be, as I’m not likely to get anywhere in the awards in any case, but the nomination kinda sticks in my throat and the problems we now find ourselves standing in are partly due to us not opening our mouths when we could.
(A postcard I received last year in a international Postcard Swap that seems kinda apt here)
Dear Irish Blog Awards,
I wish to remove the nomination of my blog Bazaar from the category of Best Blog of the Diaspora. I am under no illusions that I may come close to winning (or even close to the shortlist!) but out of principal I prefer not to be counted among the representatives of the “diaspora”. I have no problem, however, if you wish to include my nomination under The Irish Abroad, should such a category title exist.
It’s my strong belief that the term diaspora has been abused in recent years by Irish social actors, the Irish media, and, in particular, the Irish government to help salve the conscience of the ruling parties in relation to responsibility or guilt for the high rate of emigration of the Irish populace. I find the term highly emotional and politicised in it’s connotations. I prefer not to be affiliated with a group that is exploited by the Irish government and social actors, without due service or care in return.
Kind regards and best of luck with the 2013 awards,