An African American in Ireland

Barack Obama's visit to Ireland reminds this writer of her own eye-opening encounters on that island.

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"Who, me?" I looked around and realized that, yes, he must be talking to me. "Wow," I thought. "I had to leave the U.S. and come here to be called that!"

I looked at the other folks sitting in the pub, wondering if they were going to help break up this awkward moment. But I didn't notice any sheepish smiles of apology or sympathy. Just silence. And more stares. My mom and I looked at each other and wordlessly agreed that now might be a good time to leave.

We walked by the bartender as we approached the door, and to his credit, he did come up to us and apologize -- he even gave me a lighter with the pub's logo emblazoned on it. Great; a souvenir to commemorate the only time in my life I've ever been called a nigger! I probably still have it somewhere.

Editor's note: The original choice of photo to accompany this article was not meant to suggest that Ventry Post Office was involved in any account mentioned by the writer.

Teresa Ridley is a freelance editor in New York City.

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