Sean Dunne : Obama can challenge meaning of 'Irish-American'
Published 23/05/2011 | 05:00
PRIOR to his visit, Barack Obama's Irish heritage has been largely, and perhaps unsurprisingly, ignored by the American public.
But his time here can't only open up the ways in which he is perceived by other Americans, it can also challenge the narrow definitions often employed when we discuss what it means to be Irish-American.
It is impossible to ignore the significance of his speech to the Irish public, where he will address an audience within close proximity to the statue of the great 'liberator', Daniel O'Connell. An American president, with Irish and African heritage, is in many ways a vindication of many of O'Connell's arguments against racial oppression in the US. Obama can today build off of those arguments.