Black woman tweeting for @ireland gets racist abuse

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Media captionMichelle Marie is a black British woman who has been the subject of racist abuse while tweeting from the @ireland Twitter account.

Michelle Marie began the week looking forward to curating the @ireland Twitter account - but soon after she started, she was inundated with racist abuse.

The @ireland account aims to represent a range of voices in the Republic of Ireland.

Ms Marie, originally from the UK, moved to Ireland three years ago and lives there with her two-year-old daughter.

She told the BBC why she decided to apply to curate the Twitter account.

"I wanted to share my positive experiences," she said.

"I wanted to share the work I'm doing around body positivity.

"Ireland has a really strong culture of shame, and I wanted to change that.

"I've followed @ireland for a few years, and I know it has a high percentage of trolling.

"I was expecting a bit of racism, comments on my size and for being English but not a non-stop barrage."

Notifications of abuse

After logging on to the @ireland account on Monday morning at 08:30, Ms Marie quickly began to receive racist tweets.

"I was shocked more than anything," she said.

"It was an eye-opener that a lot of people have hateful and extreme views - it was pure hatred.

"A lot of people saw an image of a black woman and made a lot of assumptions, saying, 'Go back to Africa,' and telling me to go back to my own country, when I was born in Norwich.

"I was getting 500 notifications an hour.

"The vast majority of them were abusive comments and retweets of those comments."

Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter

Ms Marie said the abuse had predominantly come from outside Ireland.

"It was mostly anonymous accounts and largely based in America," she said.

"I suppose people feel safer saying these things online."

Ms Marie's offline experience in Ireland has been very different.

"I've only been welcomed in Ireland so far," she said.

"I've generally been lucky that I haven't had many bad experiences of racism in my life."

Image copyright Patrick Evans

Ms Marie criticised the racist posts, in her own tweets.

"I expected trolls, and backlash, and criticism," she wrote.

"But today I have experienced racism, sexism, fat-phobia and homophobia to a degree I have never known.

"I have had eight hours of non-stop hate thrown at me.

"I am hurt, shocked and appalled."

She tweeted about her ethnicity and background.

Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter

"I applied to curate the account to share my experiences living here, my personal interests/experiences, and the body positivity work that I do," she wrote.

"Many non-natives, non-residents, and persons of colour have gone before me, so I felt welcome to apply."

James Hendicott, another Briton who previously curated the @ireland account, pointed out he had received a different response.

Image copyright Twitter

Moving on

Ms Marie still has up to the end of the week to curate the account. She's been in conversation with Irish Central who manage the account.

"I've spoken to the guy that runs @ireland, and he wants me to see it through," she said.

"The abuse has largely stopped, so hopefully I can get on with it.

"I hope it's opened people's eyes and shown that racism is something we still all need to work together to change.

"It's time for all prejudice to stop."

By Patrick Evans, BBC social news and user-generated content hub

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