Dean Van Nguyen: "White Privilege Is Real and It Exists in Ireland"
October 25, 2016, 06:59 AM
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From the Irish Times:
White privilege is real and it exists in Ireland

White Irish people are expert at denying the extent of society’s racial prejudice

Thu, Oct 20, 2016, 01:00

Dean Van Nguyen

The expression “white privilege” has been around for years but “white skin privilege” has recently been repopularised in the US, where numerous African-American deaths at the hands of police have ignited the Black Lives Matter movement. Broadly speaking, it means the interlocking societal benefits that Caucasians in the West enjoy – benefits that non-white people in the same social, political, or economic circumstances can only look at from the outside, like kids pressed up against a sweet shop window.

In Ireland – a country where up until very recently anyone not 100 per cent white and Christian was seen as something different – white privilege is rooted in the blissful unawareness of the obstacles people of colour experience. The failure to see the destructive attitudes that exist in our communities; our collective neglect in making this land inhospitable for racist ideas and actions.

The best example I have is my own life. I’m half-Asian, but with plenty of white people here to blend in with, I pretty much pass for white on the street. It would be hard for me to deny that it’s made my life easier. Nobody has ever told me to go back to my own country or denied my right to identify as an Irish person. No stranger has ever targeted me with a racial slur. I inadvertently benefit from white privilege; except, of course, online when my foreign-sounding surname means it’s open season.

White privilege is different to overt prejudice and the majority of Irish people deplore naked, boilerplate racism, of course. But one of its defining traits is that those who benefit may be unaware that they do so.

There are plenty of Irish people who will look away when a person of colour – born here or not – points to race-based prejudice. They’ve created their own bubble, unaffected by the same discrimination, that denies its existence. They will contort themselves into pretzels to stop it from being burst. …

In 2016, people of colour’s modern-day torments are still being marginalised. Prejudice isn’t being called out. Victims of racism are being met with suspicion. When it comes to race relations, there’s plenty of distance left to run. White privilege is real and it’s in Ireland.

Dean Van Nguyen is a freelance journalist and editor covering media, music and pop culture

For an alternative view, there’s John Michael McDonagh’s 2011 movie The Guard, a comic Irish version of In the Heat of the Night, with Brendan Gleeson as a small town Irish policeman and Don Cheadle as a prissy American FBI agent forced to team up:

https://youtu.be/NrOVH-bLrq8

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