A black British woman who was chosen to tweet from the @ireland account for a week has been subjected to a barrage of racist abuse, forcing her to take a break from Twitter.
Michelle Marie took over the account – which is curated by a different Twitter user in Ireland each week – on Monday. She introduced herself as a mother, blogger and plus-size model.
Originally from Oxford in England, she wrote she had settled in Ireland and “it has my heart”.
However, just hours after taking over the profile – which is followed by nearly 40,000 people – the abuse began.Marie responded by writing that being overweight “doesn’t mean I can’t be beautiful or worthy or happy” and described the impact body shaming had had on her mental health.However, that failed to stop the trolls abusing her because she was black. Marie received a lot of tweets of support, with many users urging her to report the abuse and block the users responsible.James Hendicott, a Briton who had previously run the @Ireland account, said he hadn’t been trolled at the time and the treatment of Marie was “clearly racism”.By the end of the day the negative comments began to take their toll.
She posted a statement saying that while she had expected “trolls, backlash and criticism” she had experienced “racism, sexism, fatophobia and homophobia to a degree I have never known.”
After “8hrs of non-stop hate” she said she was hurt, shocked and appalled but promised she would try again tomorrow.
Marie told the Guardian that the experience had been upsetting.
“I’m saddened that such extreme racism and vitriol is still rife. I am fortunate that experiencing this level of hate is a rarity, but for too many it’s a daily reality,” she said.
The @Ireland account was opened in 2012 and is run by Irish Central. Irish Central’s website says “as the Ireland of today is not confined to the island of Ireland, the varied voices of @Ireland come from Ireland and across the world.”