The Black Babies work began as a conversation with my grandmother about immigrants in Ireland after watching a news report on RTÉ. She makes no secret of her ingrained racism towards the people she refers to as “money grubbing asylum seekers”. During the conversation I posed the question, “Does the bible not teach you to love thy neighbour?” Her instant retort was “They’re not my neighbours.”
The irony of her statement resides in the fact that this frail eighty-four-year-old woman is a devoutly religious catholic. She has gone to mass every Sunday and prays in the morning and in the evening. She has always upheld the beliefs of the catholic church. Her faith in the teachings of the bible are reflected in her compassion for the people around her and those who she recognises as ‘worse off’ than herself. She pleads aloud to ‘Christ all-mighty’ to bless and save the poor children who she sees in television advertisements from charity organisations like Trócaire and Conern, highlighting the suffering and poverty of people in Africa.
This work deals with this juxtaposition of these opposing values, while my grandmother always had a penny to spare for ‘the black babies’, she never had a minute to spare for the ‘big black man’ she saw in the post office while collecting her pension.