March 17, 2010

Why St. Patrick's Day Can be a Little Bit Racist Sometimes....

St. Patrick's Day is racist. No, I don't mean it's racist for Ireland and Irish diasporic peoples to celebrate a national holiday day, but I DO think it's racist for the rest of us to mark March 17th by getting hammered and wearing green, reducing this holiday to a drunken binge and enforcing stereotypes of Irish people as alcoholics. Sure, Irish people might have a drink on St. Patty's day. Why not party? They are celebrating freedom from hundreds of years of oppression. Most of us are not Irish, so we don't share in this sense of liberation, so why have the drink? It is not "International Alcoholism Appreciation Day." Most of the kids I see celebrating St. Patrick's Day who aren't Irish don't even get what this holiday is about, and that wouldn't be so problematic, if they didn't insist on drinking green beer and downing a 5th of vodka anyway.

How would you feel if people around the world used Canada Day as an excuse to get drunk? Sure, we drink on Canada Day, but we also understand it's our independence day and marks the anniversary of confederation. If people in Namibia just used this day as a n excuse to get wasted without caring about our independence, wouldn't that hurt your feelings? IT would mine. It would make me feel like an international laughingstock. IT would make me feel like the rest of the world had reduced "Canadianness" to drunkenness. Well, it wouldn't just feel that way. It WOULD be true.

So, if you're thinking about having a drink or two not just because you yourself want one, but are justifying it by saying, "Hey, it's St. Patrick's Day!" Please be self-reflexive. Are you Irish? No, if not, think, would I want people to use Canada Day as an excuse to get drunk or high and pretend that's what it was all about? IF your answer isn't, "no," I'll wager you weren't being self-reflexive ENOUGH...

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