Diversity triumph in 2010 Rose of Tralee

Diversity triumph in 2010 Rose of Tralee

The African Voice: Ireland’s No. 1 African Community Newspaper

Zélie Asava

Dr. Zélie Asava considers the contest’s celebration of the ‘new Irish’

2010 marks the year that the Rose of Tralee was won by a woman of Irish and Indian heritage. Clare Kambamettu, a mixed-race psychologist, took the title as the London rose, making it the 2nd year a London Rose has won the competition. There have been few mixed-race Roses to date. Luzveminda O’Sullivan was the 1998 rose of Tralee (whose name is mysteriously misspelt or replaced by another on many websites listing the history of the Roses). Though O’Sullivan hails from Mayo she was the Phillippines Rose, reflecting her Irish-Filipino identity. 2004’s Philadelphia Rose, Sinead De Roiste, was the first Irish-African American contestant in the history of the Rose of Tralee.

The fact that a mixed-race Rose can now be included in the competition, and even go on to win it, as a representative of Irish women and culture, is a wonderful example of diversity working in this country. Interestingly though, Kambamettu’s heritage has not been mentioned by much of the national media, with journalists preferring to describe her as “stunning” or refer to her father’s mildly exotic name, Ravi, as a signifier of her Otherness, rather than state her as mixed-race…

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