Another clueless white person wants to talk to you about Racism.
It feels weird to have a platform, albeit a platform I have given myself and a platform that only a handful of people read but a platform all the same and not talk about what has been happening around the world for the past week or so. I promise I will go back to talking about sport and other nonsense in short order.
I’m not smart enough or learned enough to have wonderfully articulated opinions and incredibly well researched statistical data. What I’m going to say is my own opinion, my own thoughts, my own beliefs.
I see people on social media say things like if you don’t agree with me then don’t follow me and I have been 100% guilty of doing that. If I don’t agree with someone or disagree with their beliefs I unfriend them, I unfollow them, I erase them from my world.
But there is a problem with that because this is exactly when we need to talk. We need to open lines of communication because if we shut down the people that don’t agree with us they will never change and neither will we. We should never give up on trying to communicate why change needs to happen.
If you read something here that you don’t agree with or think I’m absolutely wrong about please feel free to tell me. Let’s have an open and honest conversation.
I have a problem with things that I don’t understand, with actions I don’t understand, with beliefs I don’t understand. I know people will think differently from me and have different opinions from me and that’s fine.
I try my best to be tolerant, I’m not very good at it but I’m trying my best to be better at it, to understand more and to find out how I can make a difference.
When I read the comments under the photos of the Black Lives Matter protests in Ireland on facebook and on twitter I felt a mix of shame, disbelief and confusion.
“They have it better than lots of Irish people”
“Why are they protesting? No one in Ireland gets shot by the police”
“Sure if they’re refugees then why are they complaining about how we’re treating them? They should be grateful”
I’m sure you read them too and maybe your reaction was the same as mine. While I read them it became clear to me that there was a familiarity in the comments because I feel like I’ve been in a room with people before and heard those types of comments. Not about the protests but about people of colour in Ireland in general.
At different times and places, with different groups of people, we’ve all heard people say those things and probably a lot worse.
I thought about it and thought about it because I too thought when I saw the pictures that it was dangerous. My first thought was to think of how we have all been told to stay in lockdown and I felt irritated by the thought of that many people being in one place at one time when we can’t have more than a handful of people attend a funeral.
But then I thought some more. I started to think about why they were there. Why they were standing up for the oppressed, for themselves, for their friends and family. Why they were trying to shine a light on what is happening the world over including and most importantly on our own doorstep.
It’s not perfect. There is still a pandemic. There are strict guidelines but it was a protest after all. And it has caused something to happen in our society.
It encouraged people talk about Direct Provision, it forced people confront our own troubles with racism, it brought about a conversation that desperately needs to be had. It’s brought people’s stories to light, it’s helping give people a platform.
Is it the only conversation that we desperately need to have in Ireland? Of course not, but it’s the one we’re having now. It’s the conversation that is happening all over the world and we need to take part in it.
This topic is enormous and there are too many things for me to cover or talk about but, just as a starting point, I implore you to listen, to learn and to act. This is something we all have to take part in because it’s the right thing to do.