Conor McGregor, Racist?


There’s a petition going around on which aims to urge McGregor to apologise for his racist comments, and it’s almost at 1,000 signatures…

The issue of racism in sports is a serious one, it particularly targets sportsmen of black ethnicity. Conor McGregor has repeatedly used racist language, jokes and allusions; and it is time that we tell him that Irish people don’t find this acceptable nor a good example for our young people.

Conor McGregor is one of Ireland’s most renowned sportsman and a huge inspiration for many among Ireland’s youth. He has in the past described Latino fighters as “cholos”, “cockroaches” or threatened “to turn their favelas into sweatshops”. Most recently he addressed a fellow African American sportsman telling him “dance for me boy” and talking about “dancing monkeys”, racially charged sentences evoking the slavery past.

It is important to tell Conor McGregor that racism is not a joke, it is not banter and that Ireland as a nation does not tolerate racism, in sports or elsewhere.

I’m going to quote a very well-written article before I give my two-cents. I feel this article should be read before people blindly defend McGregor.

He has apparently never seen Conor fight nor heard him speak. Additionally, Mayweather was not suggesting that Conor’s “success” was due to being “white” or having “white privilege”. He was referring to how their similar approach to “trash talking” as a means to hype a fight were perceived differently by White America. He wondered if the white gaze or racial bias explained why McGregor’s “trash talk” was better received (“praised for it”) in the media than his own. Does he have a point? It’s worth a closer look. In 2010 Mayweather was rounded on by the media for launching a “racist tirade” towards Pacquiao (“make me a sushi roll and cook me some rice”) which he later apologised for formally at a press conference. Yet in terms of being subjected to racist abuse, Mayweather’s victory over Pacquiao on the 2 May 2015 resulted in the word n****r almost trending on Twitter. This spike in racist abuse towards Mayweather hailed from White, Hispanic, Asian and Filipino social media users. It came in torrents and it lasted days.

Liam Hogan goes on to discuss accusations of “reverse racism” by Mayweather (btw, not a thing) and looks into the hoards of comments suggesting that “the Irish were slaves too, and you don’t see us complaining (also not a thing).

Before you tell me that McGregor uses the word “boy” for many of his opponents because it’s an Irish term, it was evident in the last press conference that he was very aware of what he was saying. He is the king of “winding people up” and he knows exactly what to say to do so.

Screen Shot 2017-07-15 at 12.47.38

He is of the opinion that knowing black people means that you’re not a racist. Just a side note to any of my friends that may agree – Being my friend/colleague/acquaintance doesn’t make you not a racist – I’m not here for you.

It seems that people are all so afraid of the “r” word. What r word? Racist! RACIST! RAAACIIISSSTT! People don’t want to be called racist – because they are good people, and racists are baaad. Whether it’s calling out a friend for a bad joke, or realising in the moment that someone is being racist toward you, it makes us all very uncomfortable. I’ve had moments where I realised two weeks after an interaction that the person was being racist. We’re all scared of the repercussions of calling someone by the r-word. But it’s high time we started doing it. We can avoid these situations by calling people out, we can start to avoid press conferences where a racially insensitive celebrity, when called out for racism can be so comfortable in his belief that he could never do anything racist and respond with something like this:

“A lot of media is saying I’m against black people,” he told the crowd at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. “That’s absolutely (expletive) ridiculous. Do they not know I’m half-black? I’m half-black from the bellybutton down.”

“Here’s a little present for my beautiful black female fans,” and humped the air.

McGregor can’t be racist because this is what a racist looks like?


Yes, we understand it’s a bad word, and it’s a horrible thing to be. Buuut, here’s an idea, and by all means, tell me if you think I’m wrong, these are conversations we should be having more of. The more comfortable we become using it, the more that people don’t go on the defence when accused of it. We need to become comfortable with the idea that you can be a good person who did or said a racist thing. It’s that simple. Saying something racist can make you a bad person if you continue to believe it, act on it, and spread the hateful message. When it comes to issues of sexism, we can call people out, get an apology (sometimes), a changed perspective and then move on together in peace. Just like that. Throwing out replies like “but the Irish were slaves too, and you don’t see us complaining”, “It’s just Irish banter”, “It’s a part of our culture, why do WE have to change” is both ignorant, unhelpful, deluded, ignorant, poorly-researched, and ignorant. Just take what other people say on!

Here is an imaginary situation that brings me joy.

Mayweather: Hey man, that's racist.

McGregor: Shit bro, I didn't realise.

Mayweather: Well, this is why it's racist...*context*

McGregor: Oh okay, thanks for letting me know, I'm sorry.

Mayweather: That's okay, do you wanna go for pizza?

McGregor: Nah man, you're still a really bad person and I've now 
realised that me being a shite has distracted people from that, 
and now I seem like the bad guy. Our own personal heightened drama has
distracted us from the race issues in sports in general.
Isn't that mad?

So, if you’re looking for an answer on whether I think McGregor is a racist? Then no, I don’t think Conor McGregor is a racist. 

But does Mayweather have a point, is he trying to play a game here, or is he an ignorant hack? And should we be worried when Mayweather looks like the good guy?

Sahar Ali is a spoken word artist based in Dublin. She has performed in the Lingo Festival, CualaEire Shebeen, the BlueFire Festival, the Dublin Literature Festival, Body & Soul, as part of the Fried Plantain Collective, RTE’s Young People programs, the Vodafone Comedy Festival 2017 and on Into the Badlands. Her work is a comedic look at a cross-cultural surrounding of Irish-ism, racism, and activism. Sahar believes that Saharcasm is the highest form of wit, and refuses to do any research to confirm.
“Your English is so good.” “Where are you REALLY from?” “Is your hair real?” You probably won’t find the answers to these questions in Saharcasm, a one woman show exploring the Irishism, Arabism and racism that provokes queries like these. Through poetry, music and comedy, Sahar Ali introduces us to a variety of caricatures which examine the multicultural world we live in. Sussing out the differences and similarities between here and “out foreign”.
Saharcasm will be presented at Smock Alley for the Dublin Fringe Festival. 15th 16th 17th September- 8:45pm with 2:15pm matinee on the 17th. Get your ticket here.



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