Joesph Loughnane was walking to the offie with a few mates one day when they were stopped by two young lads in their mid to late teens. They were looking for a cigarette so they kindly obliged. What happened next might surprise you.
One of them looked like he’d had a few cans already; cocky as hell, not a bother on him. A mate started chatting to them while I took a phone call. My other friends stood around waiting for us all to go our separate ways. Whilst on the phone I overheard one of the young lads say that he recognised me, I looked over and continued chatting into the phone. I didn’t expect what happened next.
My mate had grown tired of humouring them and it was approaching 10 so the two lads walked up past me, seeming like they were on their way. Suddenly, the cocky one started talking at me, ignoring the fact that I was on the phone. I informed him as much and moved closer to my friends. Then I heard it – “Paki”. The lad repeated it over and over again, sometimes adding swear words with it to give it extra effect. My friend on the phone could hear it too and was naturally concerned.
I turned to stare at the fella, his friend doing very little to tell him to stop. I analysed the situation: there was me and my 4 mates, all of us in our mid to late 20s, we were in the car park of a large supermarket, cars and people all around us.
I counted to ten over and over again, talking myself out of headbutting him. He stepped closer to me, hands in his pockets, spitting the word “Paki” directly into my face. One of my mates told him to stop and this seemed to rile the other young lad. I had a decision to make: give them a roughing up and walk on or hope they’d back off and walk away.
No matter how I explained it, if the five of us started clattering them it would have ended bad, if not there and then but definitely later with the Guards involved or when the two fellas decided to take revenge. I told them to stop, asked them to walk on and informed them I was still on the phone. The one giving the abuse tried to shake my hand but I wasn’t having it. I told him he’d seriously insulted me and that they should just go. I could feel myself shaking, not out of fear, but out of pure anger.
I thought about my Mam, the Pakistan flag in my room at home, the cricket jersey in my top drawer – how dare he make me feel bad for being mixed race. The two of them walked away and me and my friends made our way towards the shop. For the next two minutes as I walked away from them, the little racist started again, roaring “Paki” over and over again. I could feel people looking at me, I tried to drown it out but it echoed around the place. it was the most direct abuse I’d received in some time.
I didn’t want my mates to feel bad for not stepping in, I could see how furious they were. When I was younger, when this happened on a weekly basis…I would have just gone in all guns blazing. At almost 28, I think I was more shocked that this still happens in 2014. I’ve been in Galway almost my entire life, I’ve walked through that car park before those lads were even born. Regardless of my name and accent, people still want to point out my appearance and ethnicity and use it as a form of insult against me. Little do those two lads realise – I’m a proud Paki/Paddy.
Of course they’ll never understand that, so they target me (much like Ireland’s two-bit fascists and separately Zionists) and try to isolate me due to my colour. It’s still playing on my mind, but I think I did the right thing. Had they been older I’m pretty sure there would have been a different outcome. Just makes me prouder to be part Pakistani.
Illustration by Thomas McCarthy. Check out Joe’s blog where this originally appeared here.