ARISING from social media and various upsetting incidents, there is a real fear that racism is becoming a problem in Ireland and we should acknowledge that. We may be at a tipping point.
We could go on to become like other societies, where discrimination and abuse are common, or we can take a stand and stop such evils. Our series, Rejecting Racism, which begins today and runs throughout the week, sees the young people of Cork emphatically saying no to racism.
Today, Anna O’Connor, a sixth year student, says: “We like to think that we are so much better here. Céad míle fáilte. ‘The Irish are the friendliest in the world!’ But all it takes is one look at social media to know that racism is here, alive and kicking. And it seems like it’s getting worse.
“People seem to be so afraid that diversity is making us lose our Irishness, but nothing could be further from the truth. Being Irish is about being kind and welcoming. It’s about having the craic, but not at the expense of others. It is time for us to realise that the only people making us lose our Irishness are those that are still maintaining racist beliefs and actions.”
Tomorrow, Sophie Gray, who is about to start college writes in these pages: “Generation Z are an extremely well connected and informed group of people. With social media, we can speak our minds and fight for what we believe in.
“We as a generation have proven our active approach in battling issues and racism should be no different. We have power to campaign for change and for what we believe in.
“I hear often ‘you can’t say anything these days’ or ‘everyone’s so sensitive nowadays’. These sentences annoy me. They anger me.
“There is a mindset in this country that it is OK to disrespect someone who is different from you. A need to be free in what we can say. And I get it, of course we have our freedom of speech, but we also have a choice in how we use that freedom. The choice of how we use your voices. These comments are holding us back.”
Then, on Wednesday, readers will get the views of local DJ and Downtown columnist Stevie Grainger, who is involved in projects for Cork Migrant Centre, and is campaigning for an end to Direct Provision.
“People in Direct Provision are in a permanent state of the lockdown that none of us enjoyed recently, but with far worse conditions and far less rights,” he says.
“There have been lots of positive initiatives lately and the Cork Migrant Centre is one such body working hard to try and help educate and change the way we look at racism here.
“Ireland is fooling itself if we don’t think we have a big problem with racism. Most of us get on well with other cultures but it’s important that we listen to them.”
There will be plenty of views and opinions throughout the week. The Echo is proud to give voice to the young people of Cork.