Casual Racism, Belfast-style

Last weekend, I came across a number of disturbingly racist tweets. After seeing BBC reporter Kevin Sharkey complaining on Twitter about racist attitudes encountered by him whilst out with a black friend a few days ago, I feel compelled to share the tweets on Slugger in order to highlight what I believe is the worryingly high tolerance threshold in our society for racist attitudes.

There is a logical correlation between communities which indulge and excuse racist and prejudicial comments and those witnessing repeat incidents of racist-inspired attacks on persons and properties.

Across Belfast, in particular, we have seen scores of such incidents in the past few years. We have also witnessed political and religious leaders make public comments that have done nothing to encourage and educate many in local communities to understand and empathise with the plight of the ethnic minority communities that now call Belfast home.

After the ‘Big Two’ fixture at Windsor Park last Saturday, one Glentoran fan tweeted what he later stated was a chant he’d heard at the game from Glens fans (presumably) directed at Linfield fans in a mocking manner because the Shankill Road was home to a mosque (it’s not, but several weeks ago the Shankill Leisure Centre was used for prayers by Muslims, which drew this response from loyalist leader, Jamie Bryson.)

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Context, as always, is important.

East Belfast has been the scene for a disturbingly high number of racist incidents in the past few years, including the infamous picket of a black man’s home which DUP First Minister, Peter Robinson, denied was racist.

Meanwhile, another Belfast based individual was tweeting photos of clearly impoverished black children, most likely in Africa. The reason was not to provoke sympathy for their plight, but rather to highlight how their black heads resembled a Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Bubbly bar.

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Just a joke, albeit in very poor taste? Perhaps some of you will reach that conclusion.

However, it prompted the following reply, showing how quickly even a distasteful ‘joke’ can lead to a dehumanisingly racist sentiment being aired- the “wee niglets” remark clearly a made-up word combining ‘nigger’ with the diminutive suffix ‘-let.’

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Another local football fan posted a photograph of what he claimed to be a Romanian woman, whom he stated became unhappy when he shouted “Fuck Romania” in her face. The tweet and photograph prompted an approving reply from another individual, who made the following comment: “gypsey (sic) bastards mate get them out of our wee country”

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Welcome to Belfast, eh…..

  • chrisjones2

    Wow …you found TWO racist comments on the interweb thingy. I am shocked. And both from prods so we all know what that means about themuns …nudge …nudge ….know what I mean

    But is it not racist only to publish Loyalist racist posts?

  • Dan

    Don’t worry, he’ll doubtless be working on another blog about a certain football CEO singing songs about sectarian Irish republican terrorists.

  • Guest

    ..

  • Dec

    I’m struggling to establish a link between libertarianism and shouting ‘Fuck Romania’ in a woman’s face.

  • Dan

    Wow, well spotted.
    Very sleekit of Donnelly.

  • Barneyt

    I am sure racism exists on the nationalist and republican side too, however it doesn’t seem to come to the fore as much as it does in the loyalist communities. One could argue that a community that is more likely to produce people who shape
    themselves by socialist ideals is less likely to produce racists. By this
    token, the British community is more likely to lean to the right given their
    political exposure and therefore reflect views and behaviours more akin to
    those of Britain i.e. pure out and out racism. I think that reflects the wider
    perception of unionism and loyalism.

    Laughing at foreign names? This is described as the last bastion
    of British racism. Our DUP friends seem willing to fall into this camp, not
    just through their lazy, childish and disrespectful slating of the Irish
    language community, but in other ways. The defence of this behaviour goes right
    to the top, which reflects a need to serve something up to the community they
    represent – play to the lowest common denominator.

    The unionist and loyalist community has a bigger racist problem to deal with than
    the Irish community. The nationalistrepublican community is in my view less
    likely to be racist and this can I suppose be explained by the shared
    experience that other races and minorities have faced. Of course it does not always
    work this way.

    I have witnessed a cultural behaviour at a leading institution
    in Dublin recently. I have not been exposed to such sexist, thinly veiled and
    outright racist behaviour in the workplace for some time. I have never
    experienced it in Ireland since I returned to work over here in 2006. The
    problem is not a local one. It’s exported from a set of consultants that fly in
    on a Monday and return to Britain on a Thursday. They seem to think it natural
    to receive an audience for their remarks i.e. “she’s making those decisions due
    to her period”, “he’s touched with the tar-brush” etc…

    More recently an Irish based colleague spoke to me about some of
    the remarks, which are in my view ignorant and anti-Irish. There are constant
    references to “potatoes” and “drinking”. Just recently
    someone from the “mainland” passed my desk and tapped my flask,
    saying, “whats in there? vodka and orange”. Just minutes later I
    nearly tripped on an obstacle on the floor and this received the remark,
    “you been drinking?”. Change the Irishman to an African American and
    the potato to chicken, and you have a very different incident on your hands.

    This is a problem that is shipped in from Britain. It is
    pronounced and I recognise and feel it a) as a result of 21 years living over
    there and b) being free from it for the last eight years. Of course, I now
    realise I just have to travel 40 miles up the road to gain the same experience.

  • Dan

    Those damned Brits…….
    Brits Out….that, of course, isn’t at all a racist thing to say

  • thePyrrhonist

    What the hell are you talking about? Libertarianism is not an unlimited ideal. It never has been. The autonomy of individuals to live out their daily lives as they wish has always been heavily circumscribed by the law, where there is a clash between their autonomy and the autonomy of other members in society to live out their lives as THEY wish. Do you really think that the desire on the part of one individual to, say, kill another person should be upheld by the law? Or rather, should the law not intervene and prevent that person from exercising their autonomy on the basis that, on balance, the wish of the other person not to be stabbed should be seen to override that autonomy. If it were otherwise, the law would nothing but a farce: society would be reduced to individual-oriented actions to the detriment of others.

    Get a grip.

  • Gareth Murray

    Putting Chris Donnelly’s innuendo aside I find it rather disgusting that someone feels it’s perfectly fine to shout obscenities in a woman’s face about her ethnicity and then arrogantly post a photo on Twitter confirming his dangerous and appaling ignorance.

    Hope the PSNI come knocking on his door,

  • chrisjones2

    Should the title not be Casual Racism Slugger Style?

    And the Cadbury’s one should clearly be referred to PSNI

  • chrisjones2

    One could argue that a community that is more likely to produce people who shape themselves by socialist ideals is less likely to produce racists.

    Thats a sweepingstatement

  • Barneyt

    Much of what I said about was always going to be a risk of being sweeping, especially if I am trying to home in on a cultural genre or some rationale for a collective way of thinking. I took a chance, but its worth do this to gain an understanding of what is happening.

    Another sweeping statement I tend to make is that traditional SF supporters tend to be politically conservative, and it takes me by surprise when the party (and as a consequence) its supporters are described as left leaning or indeed socialist. I just don’t see it on the ground.

    Liberalism, equality etc.. are traits I attribute to a true socialist. . That is the spirit in which I speak when I talk of a socialist. Fairness. There is nothing as unfair as racism, hence the sweeping statement. Granted its a broad church and even broader in its implementation. Those that lean to the left when informed by an ethos, in my experience tend to be more receptive and tolerant of other races and cultures.

    Its right to look at the sources of racism in Ireland and why it continues. I could look at why the Irish have been historically anti-black in their attitude, particularly in the Republic. It was brutal. In this instance I am looking at the Unionist community as it is my perception that they hold views that are more in line with those you might find in the England midlands. There seems to be a general anti-different-from-us attitude, as if everyone is an enemy.
    I am happy for any of my points to be shot down, but these are based on my own observations.

  • Barneyt

    As far as I was concerned when growing up in NI, when the term BRITS was widely used, it referred to military personnel and was not directed at British people. That’s how I saw it. Of course, if Brits Out is said to suggest that those of planterBritish decent should “go back home”, then that is two things. Unworkable and Racist….or racist against a collective

  • chrisjones2

    What?Like Leicester which is a majority asian city?

  • ..

  • Jon Hope

    I lived on Chichester Street for about 2 years. It was a real eye opener. One night outside my window (around the area of the job office / Garrick Bar (nothing to do with them)) a young, presumably hammered, girl stood in the middle of the road for about 15 minutes screaming racist obscenities at an African-American fella across the road. I don’t know what she felt he did to deserve it, but he just stood there and took it, shaking his head. Eventually her mates dragged her away.

    A few years ago, walking up Malone Road at night to get back to the lab at college after late drinks one night a car pulled up and four lads jumped out to chuck stuff at us. Ironically they only managed to bottle the blonde girl from Pennsylvania, the whitest of all of us. She was distraught. They were after my two friends who looked a bit darker skinned. They are Portuguese. We called the cops, they made two appointments to take statements but never showed up to either. It happened right under a CCTV camera. A couple of weeks later a load of Roma families being put out of their homes made world news.

    Not to mention my actually-Arab friend, who we’d hired in from London (born and bred) to work on a project because we couldn’t get the talent here. Belfast took on a different complexion walking through it after dark with him. Things being yelled from cars, open hostility etc.

    Belfast has a serious, serious problem.