Black Irish: Mariah Carey launches liqueur named with a nod to her Irish heritage

The singer’s mother had Irish parents, and her father had a black Venezuelan background

Mariah Carey has launched Black Irish, a range of Irish liqueurs. The singer unveiled her move on social media on Monday, with a photograph of her lying on a beach in a gold gown with a bottle of the new Irish cream in front of her. "Two years in the making. Truly a cause for celebration!!! @goblackirish", Carey captioned the image.

The name of the liqueur, which comes in three versions, pays tribute to Carey's mixed heritage – her mother, Patricia Hickey, had Irish parents, and her father, Alfred Carey, had a black Venezuelan background. They separated when Carey was three years old.

In her memoir, published in 2020, the singer wrote that her mother was estranged from her parents, who didn’t approve of their daughter’s marriage. Eventually Carey’s grandmother let her mother visit – but only with Carey. “I was a 12-year-old little girl and didn’t quite understand why she only invited me,” she writes. “Looking back, I suspect it was because I was blond-ish and very fair for a mixed kid.”

Her biracial identity also made her feel she did not belong anywhere: she was so self-conscious about not being black enough that she wouldn’t even dance, as she associated that with black culture; meanwhile, white girls at school taunted her with the N-word. In one of Carey’s favourite chapters of her memoir, she describes how her mother did not know how to look after her young daughter’s textured hair, so it was often matted. Carey would look enviously at the white women in shampoo adverts on TV with their flowing hair. “I am still obsessed with blowing hair, as evidenced by the wind machines employed in every photoshoot of me ever,” she writes.

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In an interview in 2009 Carey said that white people “have a difficult time” with biracial people. “It’s, like, my mother’s white – she’s so Irish, she loves Ireland, she’s like, yay, Ireland! Waving the flag and singing When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. And that’s great. I appreciate that and respect it.

“But there’s a whole other side of me that makes me who I am and makes people uncomfortable. My father identified as a black man. No one asked him because he was clearly black. But people always ask me. If we were together, people would look at us in a really strange way. It sucked. As a little girl, I had blond hair, and they’d look at me, look at him, and be disgusted.”