“...racism may wear a new dress, buy a new pair of boots, but neither it nor its succubus twin fascism is new or can make anything new.” - Toni Morrison
If you are surprised to see the “Irish slaves” meme in circulation once again you are not paying attention. Irish suffering has been weaponised and distorted by racists to deny justice for African Americans for approx two centuries and counting. It’s a reactionary tradition.
A modern memetic incarnation of an old racist custom to deflect, diminish or excuse the unique reality, history, significance and legacy of racialised chattel slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.
It is shared mainly by a white demographic in countries w/ a mostly unreconciled history of racial slavery, terrorism, segregation & discrimination. It thrives in the current socio-political climate because it (a) centres them as victims and immediately derails the conversation.
(b) acts as a preemptive denial, excusing their lack of engagement with, or acceptance of uncomfortable history.

(c) provides “proof” that protests against police brutality are not only without basis, but that the unrest confirms the protesters’ racial and cultural inferiority.
(d) equates white nationalist propaganda w/ evidence-based history. Takes their racism and projects it as “evidence” of an unfounded black pathology of unique victimhood, reinforcing their adherence to white supremacist ideology & justifying their pre-existing racial prejudices.
Since 2014 interest in the “Irish slaves” term on Google surges in the U.S. after every protest at police brutality. This week is no different.
Here is just a handful of examples of how it is currently being used on social media to belittle calls for racial justice. #GeorgeFloyd
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