Pride and Appreciation

St. Patrick's Day parade, NYC

St. Patrick’s Day parade, NYC (Photo credit: Matthew_Roberts)

I have a confession to make: I can be a bit naughty this time of year. I like to take the piss out of my Irish friends, but I hope they know it is all in good fun. Where I won’t make apologies, however, is my growing disdain for the misuse of the words “pride” or “proud.” We see them quite a bit during the first half of March. “Irish and Proud” decorations on people’s front doors. I find myself wondering just what it is they are proud of.
Don’t get me wrong, my never-ending barrage of teasing this time of year aside, there is nothing wrong with being Irish, but in this day and age, what exactly is there to be proud of in being Irish, or any white ethnic group? It is not like you had a lot to do with it. Your white parents decided to do the horizontal bop and made you, not exactly a Herculean Labor on your part. Maybe one hundred years ago, with the very real discrimination faced by Irish in this country, and in their homeland, you might have been able to be proud of surviving that. Today white people scramble to find some sort of Irish heritage in their background this time of year like a 24-year-old MFA student in Bed-Stuy going after the last PBR in the apartment. Being Irish is cool now, and comes with no real stigma.
This goes for any white-pride group, by the way. “White and proud?” Really? Wow, must be tough for you what with all that not getting automatically hassled by cops or side eyed when you walk into a shop. Pride suggests some sort of accomplishment. The queer community can hold their pride parades because for decades western culture tried to shove us in the closet and we survived years of oppression. Ditto the idea of “black pride.” When you still get shit on as a result of belonging to a group, you can take pride in surviving the challenges of being part of that group. Oh, and no, getting called out for your privilege does not constitute getting shit on.
Which is not to say you have to be unhappy with belonging to that group. I appreciate my Scots heritage. I love bagpipes, highland games and leak and tattie soup (not so much the haggis.) I appreciate what I have been taught about both my Celtic and Germanic roots. I don’t exist without those people who came before me, so how can I not love them? That is not the same as being proud of it though. I accomplished sweet fuck all in being Scots-German, or white, so how can I be proud of that? So before you fly that “(x) and proud of it” flag, ask yourself what exactly you have done to feel that way, and what your expression of said pride tells people who have actual reason to feel that way.

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