RACISM is a scourge on society and is something we should all be aware of, never presuming it will die away without the collective will and effort of the majority of ordinary decent people.
In a bid to highlight how Ireland needs to monitor, call out and work against the abhorrent stain on society that is racism, WWN, in a noble act, went undercover using blackface to see what it is like to experience racism first hand.
We had asked, David, our Nigerian-Irish coworker to carry out the assignment but he pointed out this was the 42nd consecutive journalistic assignment relating to his race we have asked him to do and he was tired of being used (some people are just poor workers), so it was up to his brave caucasian colleagues to fight racism as David clearly wasn’t bothered.
We tastefully applied blackface and took to the streets of Waterford, and what we found shocked us to our core. Ireland’s monocultural, majority white society has a long way to go before it can consider itself to be actively inclusive. It’s laughable to think after what we went through people would still deny the prevalence of ignorant and insensitive racism. The gall of some people.
Not 10 feet out of our offices and we were spat on by a clearly racist member of the public, who was visibly irate at the sight of us on the street. One look at our face and the abuse began. This is what people of certain skin colour go through everyday and it should be a wake up call to all of us.
Step after step, street after street yet another heartless tirade was heaped upon us, and why? All because we were black? Disgraceful. We had people tut at us, angrily take our picture and threaten to report us to the police? It was astonishingly insensitive behaviour, now we could see why Dave was so reluctant to do this, the abuse we suffered was horrendous.
And if all these incidents weren’t hurtful and humiliating enough, one man aggressively pushed us, and get this…called us racist while shouting ‘are you insane, you can’t go around here looking like that.’
Looking like that. Let that sink in people. We donned blackface to see what being subjected to racist abuse felt like, and we had seen and experienced it all in a short time.
It was so upsetting. This insensitive attitude of people, the stares, treating us like ‘oddities’ to be glared at. A shameful episode in Ireland’s history.
When we arrived back to the office, we only had to lock eyes with David to know he could see the pain we now shared in common, he was so upset in fact, he immediately left his desk and headed straight for the HR department, likely asking the HR manager to give us the rest of the day off after the ordeal we had been through.