You know what, I’ll do you one better and say that St. Patrick’s day is as bad as it gets for “racism” against White people.
This sparked a bunch of shit I’ve been thinking about lately, but first, yo is this racist?’s reply (above) was awesome as usual. I think anonymous was referring to the drunken Irish stereotype more than the Lucky Charms one, so I’m going on that assumption. I’m also working from a US perspective here, because, um, that’s what I’m qualified to speak on. Irish-Americans are often raised, even today, to be hardcore about being Irish-American and to take any opportunity of reveling in it. Which would take a much longer essay on colonialism and American sociology than I am qualified to write — or interested in writing — to explain, and no one cares anyhow. So what I want to say about this “racism on St. Pat’s thing” is…
#1: It’s not racism. It’s an unfortunate stereotype born of olde timey prejudice. Not as irritating as being compared to a leprechaun, which is a whole other patronizing bullshit story, but irritating. Sure, like ALL FAMILIES, many Irish-American families are ALSO plagued by alcoholism, which is a horrible thing. But WE DO NOT HAVE THAT MARKET CORNERED and no one would seriously suggest otherwise.
#2: You know what other market Irish-Americans don’t have cornered? Using any excuse to party. This is a country that embraces drunken fireworks on the Fourth of July, excesses of ALL kind on Mardi Gras, and let’s not even talk about the amount of alcohol consumed on Super Bowl Sunday. Shit, my husband is a naturalized American born in south India, and he’ll tank half a bottle of Jameson because Duke’s playing UNC or whatever.
#3: There are no more IRISH NEED NOT APPLY signs, man. This is in no way a stereotype that currently affects the ability of anyone with an Irish name to get the job they want or live the life they choose within US. I have never heard of anyone going through job applications and saying, “Reilly? Fuck that, this woman’s CLEARLY a worthless drunk/welfare system abuser/what the fuck ever! I’m not hiring her dumb ass, no way we can trust her. NEXT!” (If you actually know a case in which this happened — at least, since JFK was president — I’m totally sorry that you had to deal with a person who was frozen in carbonite in 1930 and then revived to be someone’s HR manager in the modern world. That shit is ridiculous and someone ought to write a letter and get that guy fired and sent to time-traveler counselling.)
Yes, there was a time. A very long period of time, the reasons for which are genuinely tragic. For the record, I’m pretty sure my Reillys dropped the “O” before their name at Ellis Island for that very reason. But now it’s more on the order of “all Germans are uptight pricks” and “all Italians are in the mafia”. Unfortunate, but not affecting the well-being of German and Italian-Americans in the least — oftentimes embraced by them as a joke, now that their ability to harm has gone. So for the love of GOD, do not compare these to the racist stereotypes that are actively used to oppress and marginalize minority populations in this country at present. It is disingenuous AT BEST.
#4: And yes, I know that in some circles, Irish and Italians, among other euro-descended types, are still not considered “white”. But if someone looks white (there are a lot of Americans of Irish descent who are multiracial, of course), they do, in fact, experience white privilege. I promise you, I’m not getting suspiciously stared down by store clerks the same way a black woman of similar age is, and that’s fucked up. So don’t try and play that, “but we’re not white!” game, because to everyone but people whose brains paused way before WWII — or, again, maybe JFK, whatever: privilege-wise, Irish-American = white.
We’re not WASPs. That’s a different thing, and not much of a hurdle these days, which is my point. We’re not The Oppressed. Yeah, we shouldn’t forget that we once were, because that might, I don’t know, make us more sensitive to current injustice and more into trying to right it. Sad that it should take that kind of history, but hey, might as well make something of it, I reckon.
And now I need a fucking drink.