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For the Love of a Mother

The Black Children of Ulster by

Annie Yellowe Palma

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THE TRUE STORY OF A BLACK FAMILY BROUGHT UP BEHIND THE BARRICADES IN NORTHERN IRELAND AT THE HEIGHT OF THE TROUBLES IN THE 60S.

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Meet the author

Annie Yellowe Palma

About the author

Annie Yellowe Palma, was born in Liverpool, the only girl and middle child of six.  Her father was Nigerian and her mother Irish. Her parents who met and married in Liverpool, separated when she was about 4 years old. She never saw her father again as he died in 1968. Her mother died in August 2008.


After leaving N. Ireland in 1986 to settle in London, Annie became a Qualified Social Worker with a Diploma in Social Work and a BSc Honours Degree in Applied Social Science both gained at the University of North London and an Advanced Award in Social Work gained at the University of Leicester.


Annie is also a Poet with a collection currently available via e-book on Amazon. She has travelled widely to countries such as Kenya, India, Japan, Hawaii and the Caribbean to name a few.


Her move in 1986 was a life or death decision.
She chose life!

About the book

 

For the Love of a Mother is about life in Ulster told through the eyes of a little black girl, exposed to the daily struggles associated with racism, sectarianism, civil war and poverty.

 

The story begins in the 60s at the height of the troubles. The author takes you on a candid tour of the neighbourhoods. You will feel as though you have met many of the characters personally and find out what daily life was like behind the barricades and the closed curtains.

 

Despite the dysfunction around us we found fun and laughter in many situations. We were very resourceful children with great imaginations and the book is interspersed with plenty of moments of utter hilarity even in the most serious of situations.

 

We had a strange existence in that we were accepted in our community ‘one of us’ and racially abused on a daily basis by our family, neighbours, the Mafia, the Police and the British Army. This was mostly verbal abuse that occasionally spilled into acts of violence. My brothers literally had to fight to earn respect and we learned to ‘hold our own’. The Mafia and our friends could be fiercely protective and would come to our defence when others tried to insult or hurt us.

 

Many will not be aware there are black people living in N. Ireland and my family would have been the first encounter for most. My older brother was born there in 1957, my other siblings and I coming later in the 60s.

 

We grew up in an Irish slum in Portadown, Co Armagh, infamously known as ‘the murder triangle’ because of the high numbers of killings carried out by paramilitary organisations.

 

At a time when racism appears to be the new sectarianism in N. Ireland, and with daily reports of appalling and escalating violence, especially in the Belfast area, I have written a book that looks at what life was like in the 60s for my black family living amongst what I refer to as, the ‘Irish Mafia’. The Mafia members include individuals belonging mainly to the UDA and UVF and from the staunchly loyalist Protestant community.

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Book launch speech.

Book Launch Speech 1st Apr 2017
Annie Yellowe Palma Speech
For the Love of a Mother (The Black Children of Ulster)

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For the Love of a MotherThe Black Children of Ulster by
Annie Yellowe Palma

I am delighted to share with you that my book will be held in Special Collections & Archives Queen's University Belfast. It will be available for consultation by library users and stored in a controlled environment for long-term preservation.

Special Collections & Archives provides access to books, maps, photographs and manuscripts from the twelfth century on, and the institutional archive of Queen’s University Belfast. All items held are considered to be of lasting research value.

More information about Special Collections can be found on - https://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/InformationServices/TheLibrary/SpecialCollections/

Interview with Irish Central the largest Irish site in North America.

“Growing up in Ireland, I scraped my black skin hoping to be white”

 
@IrishCentral
 
 
Annie Yellowe Palma as a child, about six years old.

Annie Yellowe Palma as a child, about six years old.ANNIE YELLOWE PALMA

Annie Yellowe Palma grew up black in Northern Ireland at the height of The Troubles. She is the only girl and middle child of six. Her father was Nigerian and her mother Irish. Her parents separated when she was about 4 years old and she never saw her father again as the family moved back to the North. Her tragic experiences there have led her to write a searing memoir about being black in the midst of The Troubles.. The book is called  “For the Love of a Mother: The Black Children of Ulster.”

 

She was interviewed via e-mail by Niall O’Dowd.

Tell me your personal and family background.

I was born in Liverpool, the only girl and middle child of six.  We are not all from the same father. My eldest brother is white and the rest of us are of dual heritage. My father was Nigerian and my mother Irish. My parents separated when I was about 4 years old, and I never saw my father again. He died in 1968, and my mother died in 2008.

Tell some more about your mother. 

My mother was very prominent in our lives and please believe me she has been through some very hard times before she died. My mother was small in stature and fiercely protective of us. She would have challenged and physically fought anyone however strong or tall and did so on many occasions. Sadly, life for her was such that she developed a drinking problem and smoked heavily. There were and are still very many others with the same problems and related illnesses. Shortly after we settled in N. Ireland, she entered a relationship with a male who I refer to in my book as Elvid Astan (devil satan spelt backwards).  

Elvid was a heavy smoker and drinker, an ex-soldier WW2 and beat my mother mercilessly in front of us. I go into great detail about this in my book. She suffered many injuries at his hands both physical and emotional. This included having her teeth knocked through her top lip, regular broken ribs, severely bruised and bloodshot eyes and being regularly humiliated by phrases he used such as ‘nigger whore.’ We were powerless to protect her when we were little children, however, I vowed to get him out of our lives forever one way or another. Again, I go into detail in the book about how this was finally achieved. I have never been political, but I was thankful for the Mafia vigilantes who patrolled our streets as they possibly saved my mother’s life from one of Elvid’s vicious attacks.  

When did you become aware you were different? Describe your early life, school, friends, etc.

I have struggled as a child and in adolescence with my identity. I grew up in a place where it appeared the only way I would escape the daily persecution of racists was to become the impossible, white. Their persistence in pointing out the color of my skin negatively, eventually wore me down and they got me looking at my color negatively too. So, when I was a child at around the age of six or seven, with the help of my friends, I tried to scrub my color off, I thought it would be that simple, like rubbing out a mistake. Well, I was quite annoyed at the time that it wouldn’t come off, and I elaborate about this in my book.

School held mixed emotions for me. Although I faced many challenges, school became my temporary sanctuary and I did quite well. School was somewhere to get fed and to get away from the violence in my own home perpetrated by my mother’s vicious live in lover. Those who would not accept my black skin would try to make me ‘more white’ in other ways. They thought they could make me ‘sound more white’.

 

Annie Yellowe Palma. Credit: Annie Yellowe Palma

Annie Yellowe Palma. Credit: Annie Yellowe Palma

 

For instance, from the age of five to eleven, I was forbidden to use my own birth name in school. My head teacher had called me into his office, and after studying me like a project, he promptly told me that instead of being called Annie Yellowe, I was to become, Ann Yellow. I break this down to the bone in my book and describe that day in detail, and how I ‘lost’ my identity, or rather, how it was ‘taken’ from me.

Even to this day, I find this incredulous. These are things people read about in history books, that happened to slaves, and it happened to me. I don’t struggle with identity anymore, I love who I am, warts and all.

First racial slur or incident?

Racial slurs and incidents became a part of my daily life from a very early age, and I don’t remember my life in N. Ireland without them. In the book I recall an innocent nursery rhyme where children had obviously been taught by adults to re-order the words to strike in a deeply offensive way.

Eenie meenie minee mo

catch a nigger by the toe

when he squeals let him go

eenie meenie minee mo.

How did you identify --- was it with Catholics or Protestants?

We came from a staunch Protestant background and I grew up in Portadown, Co Armagh, infamously part of what was known as ‘the murder triangle’ because of the high numbers of killings carried out by paramilitary organizations. Our life revolved around poverty and violence. I am not naturally bigoted and have always been aware that like racism, this is learned behavior. I had and still have many Catholic friends and would openly interact with them despite the potential danger I might have been exposed to.

What was life like for you during the Troubles?

My childhood memories are tainted with the trauma of the troubles. I’ve been exposed to scenes that no child should observe. I’ve witnessed the making and throwing of petrol bombs, although too young then to realize their potential to cause death. I’ve witnessed street fighting between both sides that were vicious and that many times ended with the firing of rubber bullets and sometimes death. I know too many who have been maimed or lost someone to the troubles.

We had a strange existence in that we were accepted in our community ‘one of us’ and racially abused on a daily basis by our own family, neighbours, the Mafia (In my book, I refer to all paramilitary as Mafia), the Police and the British Army.

This was mostly verbal abuse that occasionally spilled into acts of violence. I was once knocked unconscious by a racist thug in a nightclub. My brothers literally had to fight to earn respect and we learned to ‘hold our own’. The Mafia and our friends could be fiercely protective and would come to our defence when others tried to insult or hurt us.

 

 

What made you decide to leave?

I realized I was a victim of my life circumstances. I was born into violence and poverty. That life was forced on me as a helpless child. I never wanted to live that way and I had little to look forward to. Those circumstances and the daily grind of fighting racism lead me to experience some very low times. I developed ‘hidden depression’ that almost ended my life in a suicide attempt. It shocked me to the very core to realize that I could actually die! I chose life and moved to London when the opportunity arose!

Subsequent life away from North?

When I moved to London in 1986, I began writing down my story, initially as a form of self-therapy. I had thought about writing my story from the age of seven, but didn’t have the words or maturity to do so. Writing helped me to heal and move on emotionally. These opportunities culminated in me producing my book, For the Love of a Mother (The Black Children of Ulster).

Since leaving N. Ireland I have progressed beyond my dreams. I re-entered education and I am a Qualified Social Worker with a Diploma in Social Work, a BSc Honours Degree in Applied Social Science and an Advanced Award in Social Work. I have a collection of poetry available via e-book on Amazon. I have family and friends across London and I have travelled widely to places I never thought possible, Africa, India, Japan and the Caribbean to name a few.

Looking back what do you remember most?

It was confusing that although some were taught to hate the color of my skin, they had and still have, great affection for me. Suffocation and violation is what I remember most. Feeling that I couldn’t breathe properly. That I was in a cage where I had to normalize my violent and pathetic world in order to survive. I remember getting away from there and how elated I felt coming to London and a healthier normality. Not that London is without racism, just that I do not have to face it openly on a daily basis and I can breathe.

 

'For the Love of a Mother: The Black Children of Ulster' book cover.

'For the Love of a Mother: The Black Children of Ulster' book cover.

 

For the Love of a Mother: The Black Children of Ulster by Annie Yellowe Palma

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Are you living in denial to survive?

In relation to some of the content in my book
For the Love of a Mother
The Black Children of Ulster by
Annie Yellowe Palma
www.annieyellowepalma.simplesite.com...
@AnnieYellowePal

These are questions for the people of colour who have either lived previously in N. Ireland or who still live there.

QUESTIONS??????

I'm alright Jack....it never happened to me!

REALLY? SURE YOU'RE NOT STILL IN DENIAL?

Does any of below strike a chord with you?

Surviving in N. Ireland as a black person:

Do you or have you practiced or encountered any or all of the following?

Making constant efforts not to draw attention to the fact that you are black.

Allowing and or joining in with white people who mock or disrespect you and other people of colour because you are black.

Making constant efforts to distance oneself from the origins of your black skin, claiming to be ‘just a Protestant or Loyalist’.

Ensuring that you distance yourself from other black people and that you do not have or seek out black friends.

Ensuring that you do not openly have any positive interest in black people or their achievements or struggles.

Ensuring that you do not openly show interest in music that originates from black people…forcing your body to dance to an unnatural rhythm.

Changing your name to one that sounds more ‘white’.
Inconspicuously being ushered in and out of ‘friends’ homes. Not confronting this practice and accepting it as normal.

AYP

Black in Ireland.

The life of some black people in Ireland relentlessly persecuted by racists. This is why we run away!

Article in Irish American News.

 For the Love of a Mother, The Black Children of Ulster

For the Love of a Mother, The Black Children of Ulster

E-mailPrintPDF
 

 

 

 

 

Most will be aware of the past and present stigma attached to having children out of wedlock or to someone from a different ethnicity or culture.

 

In the past here in Ireland the consequences for those mothers was great. Some women would have been ostracised from their families, forced into having back street abortions, some forced to put their children into orphanages, never to be seen again, some incarcerated in mental institutions or mother and baby homes.

Most would have been deeply traumatised, and might have developed mental health issues as a result. The children and the circumstances under which they were born, kept as family secrets. Many mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, brothers and sisters will have gone to their graves with these secrets leaving behind children with little or no knowledge of their identity.

Some of you might be aware of the current investigation in relation to the Bon Secours mother and baby home for unwed mothers in Tuam down in Galway where the bodies of almost 800 babies and toddlers were discovered. The primary cause of death was reported to be from infectious disease and malnutrition. That should give you an indication of the circumstances under which they lived and died.

Amateur historian Catherine Corless published the article and the allegations are being investigated by the commission of investigation into mother and baby homes. The commission includes judge Yvonne Murphy (chair) Dr William Duncan (intern legal expert on cp and adoption) and Prof Mary E Daly (historian).

My mother was Ivy Gracey, later becoming Ivy Yellowe when she married my father Frank Peter Yellowe who was Nigerian.

My mother had several children out of wedlock and as you might be aware, most of us are of dual heritage. This being the case, she too was subjected to some of the appalling treatment I’ve just described.

My mother was well aware of the stigma and of the consequences and she told me many stories about such women and the appalling treatment they and their children were subjected to.

Her life might have been easier without us, however, we were brought up by my mother with support from my grandfather. We faced many challenges in our life including racism and neglect. Through it all, we were never apart from our mother and she kept us with her through good or ill. I can’t say if this was a good or a bad thing, just a fact.

Most are aware that my family and I grew up here in the 60’s which was during the troubles and the book I’ve written is about my journey here at that time.

 

For the Love of a Mother, The Black Children of Ulster.

In the book I describe what life was like for me as a little black girl exposed to sectarianism, racism, violence, poverty and neglect.

Having had to deal with these issues on a daily basis affected me very badly and I became depressed. When I tried to show or tell my family that I was depressed and why, they couldn’t understand and didn’t want to believe it. So I learned to hide it and I did a very good job.

That is until one night my hidden depression took a hold of me in such a way that nearly ended my life here on this earth.

The thought of death drove me to making some very positive life changing decisions which included moving to London.

I moved to London in 1986 and continued with my new life changes. I have wonderful friends and a questionable social life. During my time in London I had the nerve to enter the University of North London and I graduated with an honours degree in applied social science.

I’ve travelled half way around the world to places such as India, the Caribbean, Japan and Africa, where I was privileged to stand on the land of the Masai Mara and meet their people. Me…standing on a land I had only ever seen on TV…Me meeting people I had only ever heard about through David Attenborough…Me standing on the land of my ancestors in amazement.

When I first made trips from London back here, some told me…you’ve changed! They said that my accent was changing and they weren’t pleased I didn’t come home every weekend.

You forget where you come from!

I think when you read my book you will see that I certainly don’t forget where I came from. I tell you in great detail where I came from, where I went and where I’m still heading.

Where is that I hear you ask….when I was a little girl if I asked my mother where she was going..she would answer….I’m going to see a man about  dog!!!

To coin a phrase….you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl.

 

Interview with BelfastLive

Woman pens book about impact of being racially abused growing up in Northern Ireland

Annie Yellowe Palma's mother was Irish and her father was Nigerian

 
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A woman of dual nationality has penned a book describing the horrifying racist abuse she and her family endured growing up in Northern Ireland in the Troubles.

Annie Yellowe Palma although born in Liverpool, moved to Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles, her mother was Irish and her father was originally from Nigeria.

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Hailing from what she describes as a "staunch Protestant background", Annie and her six siblings grew up in Portadown , Co Armagh.

Her parents separated when she was about 4 years old and she never saw her father again. He died in 1968. Her mother died in August 2008.

After leaving Northern Ireland to move to London in 1986, Annie went on to become a Qualified Social Worker with a Diploma in Social Work, a BSc Honours Degree in Applied Social Science and an Advanced Award in Social Work.

Looking back on her time growing up in Northern Ireland, Annie has written a new book about "life in Ulster through the eyes of a little black girl, exposed to the daily struggles associated with racism, sectarianism, civil war and poverty." 

 
Annie as a child

Annie explained: "At a time when racism appears to be the new sectarianism in Northern Ireland, and with daily reports of appalling violence especially in the Belfast area, the book looks at what life was like in the 60s for this black family living amongst what I refer to as, the ‘Irish Mafia’.

 

"The Mafia members include individuals belonging mainly to the UDA and UVF from the Protestant community.

"We came from a staunch Protestant background and grew up in an Irish slum in Portadown, infamously known as ‘the murder triangle’ because of the high numbers of killings carried out by paramilitary organisations. Our life revolved around poverty and violence."

Annie continued: "We had a strange existence in that we were accepted in our community ‘one of us’ and racially abused on a daily basis by our family, neighbours, the Mafia, the Police and the British Army.

 

"This was mostly verbal abuse that occasionally spilled into acts of violence. My brothers literally had to fight to earn respect and we learned to ‘hold our own’. The Mafia and our friends could be fiercely protective and would come to our defence when others tried to insult or hurt us.

"Despite the dysfunction around us we found fun and laughter in many situations. We were very resourceful children with great imaginations and the book is interspersed with plenty of moments of utter hilarity even in the most serious of situations."

Annie's book 'For the Love of a Mother' is a self-published book that will be available for purchase on-line at Amazon in the form of an e-book. Paperback copies are also be available.

 
 
1 DAY AGO
douchbeg
when will the protestant community call out these racists that to this day are forcing people out from there homes 
 
 
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