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Anyone up for a chat about racism in Ireland?

(26 Posts)
Granddayoutthere Fri 12-Jun-20 14:39:07


Anyone interested in a chat about the Black Lives Matter movement in Ireland? I'm aware racism exists in our country. And in light of recent events, I am exploring all the information and resources I can to educate myself further.

Ireland is still emerging from it's own history of division and oppression. Yes, diversity is lacking but I think that's as much about demographics (we are fairly new to multiculturism) and will naturally change as the country grows. The media narrative at the moment seems to be doing more to cause division than empathy. Is that the initial push required to make the change do people think? And then we will settle down to moving forward as a nation?

I know I can only speak from my own experience, and in my day to day, I see most people are trying hard to be good people, to everyone.

Would love to have a chat and hear other people's experiences and feelings/opinions. I think lockdown and consuming too much news has my head spinning about the state of the world in general!

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OchonAgusOchonO Mon 15-Jun-20 00:56:12

There has always been huge levels of racism against travellers. I don't think racism needs a colour per se to discriminate against. We're perfectly capable of othering people on all sorts of characteristics. I think focusing on criticising discrimination against blacks while ignoring other forms of bigotry and discrimination won't solve the issues with racism. We need to treat all equally.

EarlofEggMcMuffin Mon 15-Jun-20 16:27:11

Happy to chat.
I remember a first year lecture in sociology- the American professor talked about research showing the tIreland was one of the most racist countries in Europe.
I was probably in high dudgeon as me and my lovely family were kind and nice and where had we ever been racist?

Then I thought about attitudes to Travellers.
And the awful remarks about black people, from an elderly uncle who had returned from the US.

Unfortunately, I suspect it's a bit of a ticking time bomb as outside of schools, there doesn't seem to be much of a such for effective integration of "new Irish".

Sure they have their spot in the Paddy's day parade but outside of that?

Iblinkedandiamold Mon 15-Jun-20 20:24:03

Ireland is very racist which is a shame considering it was not so long ago that people were prejudiced towards the Irish people. A lot of places still are, they dont want Irish people working there because all we do is get drunk and not show up for work.
I have seen people harassed on buses, I have also seen the whole touching hair thing, which is weird anyway. Same if you have red curly hair people want to touch it, why?
You know our national anthem is about providing shelter and protection for anyone who needs it, "despot or slave." Then again we are a judgemental people, we look down on travellers, on people from certain estates in certain areas, Ms Jones two door down who has three children by three different men.

MarDhea Mon 15-Jun-20 21:53:09

I've seen that "most racist country in Europe" line doing the rounds in social media but no receipts and I don't really buy it because I've seen good data to the contrary. The EU study on racism experienced by black people that came out last year put Ireland around the middle overall

But yes of course there's a problem with racism in Ireland. There's a problem with racism everywhere. It's daft to think we're off the hook because other countries are more racist. Anti-traveller discrimination is the most pervasive, even amongst people who are posting virtue-signalling BLM stories all over their accounts. Radiant against visible racial minorities - anyone with darker skin, basically - is less pervasive but still insidiously present in too many people.

I'm very cynical about the genuineness of a lot of (white) people in Ireland and anywhere else outside the US getting behind BLM campaigns on social media. It's so easy to tweet or post something supportive and then bask in the shower of virtue cookies, but will they get off their arse in person and pull people up if they hear a racist remark? Will they what.

There are good people who do this. I know many. Not one of them is posting BLM all over social media at the moment.

EarlofEggMcMuffin Mon 15-Jun-20 22:56:10

Absolutely agree with your last 2 paragraphs MarDhea.
There's a kinda smug feeling about a lot of the #BLM posting and an "aren't I great?".
I rolled my eyes at the film reviewer on the Brendan O'Connor show on Sunday for this reason.

I have no doubt that there are many black people in Ireland that experience nasty remarks.
You have to be bold enough to shut that down straight away- it's not enough to leave it to black people to find the perfect words to stand up for themselves.
Bystanders matter.
That's what counts - not my social media posts.

Granddayoutthere Tue 16-Jun-20 22:42:21

Hey all,

Thanks for the replies, I appreciate having somewhere to chat that's not an echo chamber. I am beginning to wonder if my confusion is more about my lack of fluency with social media than anything else.

I completely agree that Travellers have long been discriminated against. I see people shouted down when they mention that. I have also seen people told to get over any hangs up they may have about the Troubles, events in living memory for the people talking about them.

I think our country is full of inequalities when it comes to inclusion and diversity, not just based on skin colour. The biggest divide I see is probably socio economic rather than skin colour. I've known families to quash friendships based on where children live/come from.

The push last week on social media for people to educate themselves and do better had my head spinning! I'm glad to see people speaking out, I completely agree that it's up to us all to call out racism and bigotry when we see it. I also wonder how much people are actually changing in their day to day lives? And it makes me nervous that everything seems to be 'all or nothing'. Nevermind that your work/ daily life involves helping people/ promoting equality and access/ providing support to families and communities etc. - if you didnt post a black square and order How to Be an AntiRacist, then you are most definitely a racist.

And all the talk of 'New Irish' and 'Black Irish' - should we not be aiming for just Irish? It feels as though we have swallowed whole the American narrative, rather than recognising that we have a chance to avoid going down a path that seems to lead to segragation rather than integration.

Then I wonder if I'm simply a bit naive?! I believe that change comes through education and each of us doing our bit, in our daily lives, recognising that everyone deserves to be heard and respected.

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EarlofEggMcMuffin Tue 16-Jun-20 23:03:10

" we have a chance to avoid going down a path that seems to lead to segregation rather than integration."

Well said.

I came back to Craicnet having just read about the brave ladies who finally had their abusive father jailed today.

I watched that lady (Helen?) and somewhat inappropriately, I wanted to give her a cheer.

As they have asked, how in the name of God, was their father allowed to subject them to that?
Were they considered "less than" and not worth bothering with, because they are of a Traveller background?
That's the colour of prejudice in Ireland.

tigerwhocametoT Tue 16-Jun-20 23:26:35

As a black person who moved to Ireland with my family when I was just 12 I wouldn't say I experienced racism much.

there has been times when kids from other schools (boys especially and elderly men) would shout nasty things at me at the bus stop.

I once had a lady say to me "oh wow you sounded Irish over the phone" this is after she agreed to let me do the work experience. I don't think she would have greed to let me do the work experience there had she knew I was black.

Other the those few Incident I think the Irish people are very friendly and I felt welcomed.

Ringsender2 Tue 16-Jun-20 23:41:48

As well as what's written above, a major facet of racism (and classism) in Ireland is the 'face fits' syndrome. People with 'other' sounding names (BAME or Traveller, or 'poor') simply don't get interviews. They don't get a foot on the bottom rung of the career ladder for much of the time, never mind if they've managed to get up the education ladder in the face of tougher family/home situations. It makes me really cross.

Iblinkedandiamold Tue 16-Jun-20 23:42:22

@tigerwhocametoT I'm glad you say you didnt experience much racism but still the bit you did face was horrid.
As an early years Educator I look after children of all backgrounds, I would hate to think that my little dotes could and most likely will face racism and prejudice because of where they were born or the family they were born into.
I do feel very old though when a child from the travelling community calls me Miss, I dont know why, I think it's the way they say it. (These are just kids on the streets or in shops not my charges)

tigerwhocametoT Tue 16-Jun-20 23:55:53

Forgot the add, the treatment of travellers in Ireland was a shock to me, In school I remember my friends telling me that I needed to make sure that I get a padlock for my locker because a traveller will be joining our class. The girl turned out to be the nicest and kindest person in that class and I became close friends with her.

strugglingwithdeciding Wed 17-Jun-20 00:10:17

@MarDhea I so agree with the social media part I have seen a few doing this too purely for Facebook likes but wouldn't actually put their selves in a position to help or step in if needed

Granddayoutthere Wed 17-Jun-20 00:25:57

@EarlofEggMcMuffin I was horrified when I read their story. How did it go on for so long? And how abandoned must they have felt for all those years? I have such admiration for them and think they are incredible to have held together and seen it through to the end.

@tigerwhocametoT I'm sorry that you experienced any racism at all. I hope the work experience turned out to be valuable to you and that the lady appreciated you when you were there. Glad to hear you have found Ireland to be mostly welcoming, may that continue and improve flowers

I agree @Ringsender2, it's frustrating. Oftentimes, it comes down to who you know as well, or who you are known to. Maybe that's the same everywhere? It's hard to know how to overcome it.

@Iblinkedandiamold I think Early Years is really where developing equality, acceptance and empathy needs to start. And in some cases, families need to be drawn into the conversation - because it's an uphill battle discussing how we are all equal and deserving of the same opportunities if parents at home are projecting something different.
It's lovely to hear (read) you speak so lovingly of the little people in your care.

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MarDhea Thu 18-Jun-20 14:08:10

Good piece in the IT today

Skintalways Thu 18-Jun-20 14:16:58

I'm Scottish and my husband is Irish, we live in Scotland. We have a touring caravan. I have to phone sites/storage as some of them automatically refuse an Irish accent as the assume travellers. It's an absolute discrace sad

LadyEloise Sat 20-Jun-20 09:50:26

Did anyone hear Imelda May "reciting" her poem "You Don't Get To Be Racist And Irish" ?
Powerful, thought provoking poetry.
Amazingly talented woman.

LadyEloise Sat 20-Jun-20 10:40:44

It's on Instagram.
Perhaps someone less technically challenged than I could fo the link ?

MarDhea Sat 20-Jun-20 17:46:53

YouTube link here

Oh it's good.

LadyEloise Sat 20-Jun-20 21:56:18

Thank you MarDhea.
Isn't she brilliant !

Did you see the 40 Irish female singers raising funds for domestic abuse victims singing Dreams by the Cranberries ?
Imelda sings on that too.

Any chance you could do a link to that please, @MarDhea ?
Or start another thread with it on it ?

kittykaty Sun 21-Jun-20 09:21:06

I can’t understand how BLM stood up in the part of Ireland where I am from and told us to think about our white privilege. There is no such thing where I live and discrimination towards travellers and native Irish from a particular community still exists. Newcomers should be aware of this and our history of subjugation before assuming all white people are racist. I have been denied opportunities and called names for being from the wrong community and having the wrong accent both in Ireland and the UK. I am white and have been turned down for a job by an Asian employer as soon as he heard my accent. Didn’t even get a chance to answer a single question. Just fed up with white people always assumed to be the villains!

MarDhea Sun 21-Jun-20 10:42:39

@LadyEloise I had missed that cover somehow - it's lovely, thanks for mentioning it.

It's in a few places but YouTube link below so it should embed properly...

LadyEloise Sun 21-Jun-20 11:00:06

Thank you @MarDhea

MarDhea Sun 21-Jun-20 11:23:45

I get annoyed by people who assume the American version of white privilege applies consistently across the globe, with no understanding of how power dynamics differ across the world. It's a form of American cultural imperialism in its own right.

That said, white privilege is still a real thing, even in Ireland. It's not that being white means you have an easy time; far from it in some corners, particularly for Travellers. It's more that you don't have your skin colour used as an additional weapon to make your life worse on a regular basis. And I say this as someone who experienced anti-Irish racism in the UK when I lived there - it's not that white people don't ever experience racism, but rather that the order of magnitude is different.

Like if we added up how many ways Travellers experience discrimination, those problems would be increased for someone who was (say) mixed race white Traveller and black. Or for every time I was treated badly by a certain type of English person when they heard my Irish accent, there were countless more times when I could escape that attitude by speaking little or not at all because my white skin meant they assumed I was British... but non-whites don't have that option to blend in for a quiet life.

I'm not sure if I'm explaining myself clearly at all, but the way I see it, the "privilege" of white skin in the Western world basically means being the cultural default, the norm, so you don't have to stick out and push against that norm everywhere you go. Sometimes breaking the norm results in overt discrimination and racist remarks, sometimes it's more subtle and results in social exclusion or low expectations of your competency... but it's a deeply wearying way to live your life. There is a different dynamic in place in other countries where the power and cultural value is held by non-white people, but many (most?) of the wealthiest countries around the world have pretty strong white privilege.

MarDhea Sun 21-Jun-20 11:26:39

The above was to kittykaty - forgot to quote from her post.

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