Ever–Present Racism has Devastating Effect on Second Generation Ethnic Minority Youth

Racism Comes in Many Forms, say Young Participants in Commission Report 

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) today published a report on the Experiences of Second-Generation Ethnic Minority Young People in Ireland, authored by Dr Malgosia Machowska-Kosiack and Dr Maria Barry from Dublin City University, which revealed that racism and discrimination form the daily experiences of many Second-Generation young people.

The report shows that racism comes in many forms, not just at the extremes, and can have a very negative effect on a young person’s self-esteem and self-worth. Forms of ever-present discrimination experienced on a daily basis include: “dirty looks”, “people crossing the road” to avoid passing someone on the street, and bias relating to a person’s accent or perceived ability to communicate in English.

The report recommends that meaningful change will only come with strong, inclusive leadership, a systemic approach to data-collection, strategic funding, Second Generation participation in future policy making and a whole of society mobilisation.

In the current context of increased numbers of people accessing asylum under the Temporary Protection Directive (TPD) and seeking International Protection (IP), the report calls for anti-racism measures to be promoted across political and public institutions, through systemic training and more diverse recruitment in our police, courts, healthcare and teaching professions.

While there has been consistent evidence of institutional racism and a culture of discrimination towards the Traveller community in Ireland, we are also witnessing a growth in racist, anti-immigrant and far-right organising, which needs to be robustly challenged.

Chief Commissioner Sinéad Gibney said:

“Tackling racism is a long-term project which requires a sustained focus and coherent leadership from the State. Ireland is an ethnically diverse country.  Racism not only affects those targeted directly, but also, if not challenged, sends a pernicious message that some of our people do not belong and can therefore be mistreated with impunity.

“Next week the Government is set to launch its long awaited National Action Plan Against Racism (NAPAR), to which we made considerable recommendations. This is a unique opportunity to focus our national will and energy towards ending racial discrimination and corresponding disadvantage, so that we can each benefit from the equal involvement of all.”

Dr Malgosia Machowska-Kosciak said:

“What sets this study apart is that it explores the circumstances of a cohort of young Irish people whose experiences have heretofore been under-reported. In the report, we have used terms such as ‘microaggression or ‘microinsults’.

“Nevertheless, however small or harmless these terms may sound, the study concluded that the ever-present and cumulative nature of these incidents in the participants’ lives, has a devastating impact on young people’s sense of belonging and on their wellbeing. They also contribute to discriminatory treatment and impact on young people’s access to education, employment and more.”

Dr Maria Barry added:

“A key learning from the report is the need to ensure young people are included in research projects such as these from inception. The principle of participation should underpin all activities that seek to promote and protect the rights of second-generation ethnic minority young people.

“The young people who participated in this study want and need to be heard, to be well represented and to be involved in the planning, development and implementation of action plans, policies, research or any social changes involving them. This needs to be done with them rather than about or for them.”


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Notes for Editors:

“Experiences of Second-Generation Ethnic Minority Young People in Ireland” by Dr Malgosia Machowska-Kosiack and Dr Maria Barry (Centre for Human Rights & Citizenship Education Dublin City University) is available online at: https://www.ihrec.ie/app/uploads/2023/02/Experiences-of-second-generation-ethnic-minority-young-people-in-Ireland.pdf

Our definition of ‘second-generation’ not only comprises young people with ethnic minority backgrounds who were born in Ireland but also includes those who came to Ireland as very young children. Their experience is often the same or very close to the experience of children who were born here – their unique, hybridised identities come to the fore in this study, along with the serious reality of being racialized, misrepresented and discriminated against.

The Centre for Human Rights & Citizenship Education Dublin City University prepared the report for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

The Commission launches the report in tandem with a new radio campaign (ad available here) focused on contributions to the report by second-generation Irish young people.

Recommendations made to the NAPR are available at: https://www.ihrec.ie/app/uploads/2021/09/Developing-a-National-Action-Plan-Against-Racism-IHREC-Submission-to-the-Anti-Racism-Committee.pdf

The authors would like to thank all those young people who participated in this study and those sporting, social and cultural organisations who helped with the recruitment of participants.

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.