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It's time to stop pretending that Conor McGregor's comments aren't racist

There’s no reason to make excuses for him at this stage.

Mayweather McGregor Boxing Source: Frank Franklin II

BEFORE THIS WEEK, a number of people had called Conor McGregor out for being inexcusably racist.

Every single time the conversation came up, fans of the fighter were immediately ready to shut it down.

In fact, it wasn’t just fans. Plenty of Irish people who barely care about MMA or following McGregor fights were eager to step in and stop people from calling out a successful Irish man for being racist, because they did not believe his comments were racist.

Mayweather McGregor Boxing Source: Frank Franklin II

Maybe they speak like that all the time and don’t see a problem. Maybe they think that the only way you can be racist is by using the N-Word.

It’s hard to gauge racist incidents in Ireland in a quantitative way because we have no hate crime legislation (which is a very big problem). Despite that, ENAR (European Network Against Racism) manage file annual reports that confirm that:

People who are Black, African or perceived African origin are routinely subjected to patterns of racist and dehumanising verbal abuse, often by strangers, escalating to harassment and at times to assault.

Boxing: Mayweather vs McGregor-World Tour Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Fans of Conor McGregor, people who use racism casually and legislation in Ireland may all ignore the fact that harassment and hate crimes occur in Ireland, but people of colour certainly can’t.

Anyone who wants to put their fingers in their ears and shout “LA! LA! LA! LA!” like a four-year-old and pretend that racism isn’t a real issue in Ireland won’t see a problem with what Conor McGregor said.

He’s certainly not going to be discouraged from behaving like this when he receives applause for every sentence he says, regardless of it’s content.

Boxing: Mayweather vs McGregor-World Tour Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Even then, they’ll probably just let it be forgotten, like that time Enda Kenny repeated a joke he heard in which Patrice Lumumba (the first democratically elected PM of Congo) was called the N-Word.

His dinner guests were embarrassed by the joke and it made it to headlines, but it never stopped Enda Kenny from becoming Taoiseach.

Using explicitly racist language didn’t have any negative impact on the careers of Fine Gael Senator Paul Coghlan ten years ago or retired Fine Gael TD Donal Carey in 1996. In fact, it appears to be a consistent problem in the party that’s leading the country.


If that kind of language is excused within our government, it’s no surprise that people are unwilling to accept that their hero, Conor McGregor, is a pretty bad person for being racist.

A month ago, Shaun King wrote a piece for NY Daily News about the likeability of McGregor. McGregor, who was once living off of the dole, managed to become Ireland’s most unshakably confident sports star.

Shaun King also noted that the entire feud between Mayweather and McGregor was fueled by racism from very early on. In January 2016, Mayweather attributed McGregor’s favourable treatment to his skin colour.

Boxing 2017 - Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor Press Conference Source: Joel Plummer

If you’re in disbelief at Mayweather’s suggestion, take a deep breath. Let’s look at some successful black men who are confident and love themselves.

Kanye West. Do you hate him? Do you have a coherent reason for hating him, other than the fact that he’s successful and loves himself a bit too much?

Kanye’s a pretty talented guy. Have you listened to his music? No? And you still hate him for no reason? OK. This is what Mayweather means.

People who hate Kanye West but are entertained and filled with joy by the carry-on and competitiveness of Conor McGregor are exactly who Mayweather is referring to.

People give overly confident flashy white men a pass on this behaviour when they criticise black rappers and sports people for doing the same.

Boxing 2017 - Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor Press Conference Source: Joel Plummer

McGregor’s response to Mayweather’s comment should have been a huge alarm bell.

At best, it was unnoticed by most people. At worst, it was applauded and fueled the historically illiterate masses who believe in the Irish Slave myth.

McGregor’s response was:

“I am an Irishman. My people have been oppressed our entire existence. And still very much are. I understand the feeling of prejudice. It is a feeling that is deep in my blood. “

Comments like this, about Irish people being equally as oppressed as African Americans and black people are untrue and fuel myths like “The Irish were slaves and they just got over it!” to shutdown conversations about how slavery still affects the lives of African Americans, even today. Which it does.

Limerick Historian Liam Hogan has put a great deal of work into debunking the myth of Irish slavery.

Boxing: Mayweather vs McGregor-World Tour Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

As a white Irish person, there is nowhere in the world (except for parts of Northern Ireland on the 12th of July) that you will go and not generally receive better treatment than black people (even then, a lot of bonfires express very racist sentiments).

However, Conor McGregor comfortably slipped out of this controversy by suggesting that he has suffered as much in his life as a black person, rather than acknowledging that there are a lot of things that are easier for white people than for black people.

Mayweather McGregor Boxing Source: Christopher Katsarov

What makes it worse is that this comment had been preceded by a number of other offensive statements.

For someone who supposedly still feels the negative effects of colonialism and prejudice in his blood, it’s a bit odd that he dropped this line on Brazillian MMA fighter José Aldo:

If this was a different time, I would invade his favela on horseback and kill anyone that was not fit to work. But we are in a new time. So I’ll whoop his ass in July.

Where do you even start here? The fact that he’s hinting at committing genocide on Brazillians living in poverty who are unable to work as slaves for him in his weird historical fantasy?

Sport - UFC - Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor Press Conference - Dublin Convention Centre Source: Brian Lawless

This comment is absolutely shocking and what’s worse is that he barely faced any criticism for it whatsoever.

Conor McGregor just said that because he can’t express his racism towards Latinx people through murder while invasion of their country, he’ll do it through his upcoming fight with a Brazillian.

If this comment had been made against Conor McGregor by a British fighter, there rightfully would have been outrage. Especially from the type of people who are defending McGregor’s comments.

Boxing: Mayweather vs McGregor-World Tour Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

The NY Daily News piece looks at some other comments that McGregor made during the build up for the Aldo fight.

“What I really want to do is turn his favela into a Reebok sweatshop.” Ah yes, tell us again, Conor, about how you feel prejudice in your blood… Is it your own prejudice bubbling away in there by any chance?

In another comment he said “I think I’m going to have him come and clean up my airplane”, a comment once again targeting Aldo’s Latin heritage.

Comments like these are totally unacceptable and in an ideal world they would end careers. In MMA, which has descended into being as embarrassingly over the top as WWE, it’s allowed to slide.


This week, a lot of people wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt after he made comments to Floyd Mayweather where he called him ‘Boy’.

The comment McGregor made was “Dance for me boy”, which The Washington Post fairly pointed out that he appeared to realise that he had crossed a line and changed the word boy to “sir” within a few seconds.

Everyone said “Oh, McGregor is Irish, he has no idea what the significance of calling a grown black man ‘boy’ is in The US.”

His previous comments suggest that he does actually know a little bit about history. Furthermore, he actually doesn’t care about what his comments imply and never has.


OK, say if, in his entire adult life he had never seen a movie about racism and was totally unaware of how provocative the word “boy” is to a grown African American man. Surely he would have just apologised.

Anyone else would put their hands up and explain that it was a total mistake and a very unfortunate choice of language.

Instead, McGregor managed to ensure that there’s absolutely no reason to doubt that his intentions were racist. Rather than apologising for his comment in a professional and sensitive manner, he went on stage last night and said:

“All of the media seem to be saying I’m against black people! That’s absolutely f**king ridiculous! Do they not know I’m half black?! I’m half black from the belly button down!”

The cringe-worthy moment begins at the two minute mark.

Source: ESNEWS/YouTube

This is undeniably racist. Within a few seconds he completely dehumanises and sexualizes black men and then black women by gyrating on stage and saying it’s for his black female fans.

It’s totally unacceptable and we shouldn’t continue to support this man or treat him like a representative of our country. People are willing to disown Bono for much less.

If you’re still not convinced that Conor McGregor is racist, try and explain this video from earlier in the week where he called black actors in Rocky III ‘dancing monkeys in the gym’.

If the video will not play, you can watch it here

If you continue to support McGregor and stay up all night to pay for and watch his fights despite this comments, you should really have a think about the behaviour that you’re happy to support and fuel.

Conor McGregor roaring racist, hypersexual comments about black people on stage to rapturous applause from audience members is as worrying as it is familiar. Do we really need to reward these kinds of people any more than we have in the last year?


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About the author:

Kelly Earley

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