I have always been a fan of St. Patrick’s Day. My grandmother was Irish, so that lifeline has been clung to throughout my existence. Robbie Keane jerseys, Bailey’s whenever possible, a relatively fake taste for the ever-poorly travelling Guinness whenever the folks were looking the other way, and a miserable affected accent were staples of my childhood. You have to be proud of all your roots.
It never bothered me that I wasn’t full-blooded and pale-as-a-Protestant-in-a-Catholic-church Irish. Despite looking undeniably more like my Asian half in those developing years, I’d proudly take to school, the pitch, and friends’ decked out in a green ensemble that would put even the keenest of St. Patty’s Day partiers to shame.
Similarly, though one could make the argument that I was simply looking for support of my thin Eire connection, it didn’t trouble me whatsoever when I saw classmates donning like-coloured garb. It didn’t matter if they were of Irish descent or not. It didn’t matter if they had no idea what Gaelic was. It didn’t matter if the only time they ever acknowledged the Emerald Isle’s existence was on March 17. I was happy to see others celebrating. Taking part. Making the occasion as joyful as possible. Children see the world best sometimes.
It’s something I have carried with me to this day. I sigh whenever I hear people complaining of how everyone taking part in St. Patrick’s Day is cultural appropriation. It’s a celebration. The last thought that should be going through anyone’s mind when thinking of a celebration is excluding someone—because that’s essentially what’s happening if the cultural-appropriation horn is blown loudly and soundly for all to hear. It’s saying that it’s not okay for certain parts of the population to participate. And not only shouldn’t they be involved, but it’s offensive if they do. I haven’t found a truly well-meaning cause that honestly trumpets such a notion.
Of course this does not apply solely to the Irish bash. Christmas, Diwali, Hanukkah, etc. Am I a Christian? Nope. Do I say, “Merry Christmas,” to others I know not to be Christian? Absolutely. Do I gladly hop into any of these holidays given the chance? For sure.
Look at these festivities like those themed days in school: crazy hair day, pajama day, etc. Do you have to partake in the fun? No, but the only person you’re shorting if you choose not to is yourself.
The world is a strange place. Many issues are swept under the carpet and mindlessly played off as nothing issues; however, in an attempt to shine a light on matters of significance, oversensitivity has emerged. Make no doubt about it, cultural appropriation does exist, but we needn’t make a concerted effort to find it in all things. Mountains out of molehills. Use your own head when forming opinions. Do some research. See how you actually feel. The popular opinion isn’t always correct, and if we decide to throw our weight behind thoughts we haven’t legitimately devoted time to, the end result often does more harm than good.