Hey, Ireland! Let’s talk about racism. Here. NOW.

TW for hella racism.

I’ve got a bone to pick with you, Ireland. You and me, we need to have a chat. And we need to do it now.

Listen, Ireland, I get that you think that we get a get-out-of-racism-free card. It’s true that anti-Irish racism has been going on for hundreds and hundreds of years and is still a thing in some places, and that a century and a bit ago we were starving in Famines while the other white people were off buying and selling human beings and we couldn’t even afford a decent potato. Yep. We had it pretty bad, back then.

That doesn’t mean we that our consciences were as lily-white as our delicate, sunburn-prone skins, though. For centuries, we’ve had a truly exceptional ability to hate people of a slightly different brand of Christianity to ourselves. The way that settled Irish people look on and act towards the Travelling community is horrible. And did you know we’ve historically done quite the line in anti-semitism as well? Shure didn’t we have our own pogrom down in Limerick in 1904.

So let’s not pretend, Ireland, that we either couldn’t be racist here or that racism is such a newfangled phenomenon ’round these parts that we simply don’t know how to recognise it when we see it. We’re not as innocent as we’d like to think.

So, since we have this long, varied history and culture of racism to draw on, precisely where did people get the idea that dressing up in blackface was okay?

I get it. It’s Halloween. Although you have a multitude of thousands of things to dress up as, you figure that there’s nothing quite like a white guy dragging it up and painting his face to be Whitney Houston for the night. You figure that being a fan makes up for a century or two of racist connotations and imagery. And, eh, your friends seem to agree:

Just in case you were unsure, a few guidelines for confused white people:

  • When POC tell you that a thing is racist, you take them at their word.
  • When POC tell you that a thing is racist, you do not tell them that they’re being oversensitive. It’s far, far more likely that you just don’t know what you’re talking about. Since they live with racism every day, they know more about it than you do.
  • If POC tell you a thing you did was racist, and if they are not sweet and polite about it, you don’t get to stomp off in a huff over your hurt fee-fees. You did a racist thing. People are well within their rights to be mad at you.
  • Intent is not magic. Not intending to be racist does not make a thing not racist. If I don’t mean to stand on your toe, but my foot is still on your toe, your toe is still going to hurt like hell. I don’t get to talk about how I didn’t mean to step on you without moving my foot.
  • Being gay/a woman/trans/disabled/working class and/or a member of any other marginalised group does not grant you a Get Out Of Racism Free card. This is the real world, not Monopoly. Oppression of one kind doesn’t magically make you incapable of being an asshat towards others.
  • By the way, doing a racist thing doesn’t magically turn you into a Nazi fascist KKK’er. It means you are a human person who did a thing you shouldn’t have done. If you’re not an ass about it, it doesn’t have to be the world’s biggest deal.
  • If you find out that a thing you did was racist, then the appropriate response is to apologise and stop doing that thing. Once you’ve stopped doing the thing, if you’re confused about why that thing was racist you can use this marvellous tool to find out why. You don’t get to go bothering the person who you’ve just been racist at about that racist thing you did. That’s just rude.

Wasn’t that easy?

Edit:

After reading the comments, it’s become clear to me that a lot of people really don’t get why this is such a big deal. Over the next few days, I’ll be writing a couple of follow-up posts. The first is Why It Really Is That Bad: A brief history of blackface. The second will respond directly to some of the other concerns people have raised- I should get that up by tomorrow or Wednesday at the latest.

Hey, Ireland! Let’s talk about racism. Here. NOW.
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