Yes, Conor McGregor, Even White Irishmen Have White Privilege In the U.S.

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Recently ‘retired‘ undefeated (49-0) boxing champion, Floyd Mayweather Jr, spoke about racial double-standards in fight media and among many fight fans, as it pertains to perception of premiere ‘brash’ Black fighters and their white counterparts. In doing so, he contrasted himself and fellow undefeated (24-0) retired women’s boxing champion, Laila Ali, from new MMA champion Conor McGregor (19-2) and now former women’s MMA champion, Ronda Rousey (12-1), saying the following…

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On fight accolades:

But you look at things like this, Ronda Rousey, you know, I think she fought somewhere like 11 or 12 fights, which is not a bad thing. Laila Ali went undefeated and was dominating too. After Ronda Rousey fought I think 9, 10, 11 fights, it didn’t even take that long, she got all types of endorsements, movies, and everything. Laila Ali did the same thing in better fashion.

On ‘sex symbol’ marketing:

Ronda Rousey, she’s a good looking woman when she put it on. Laila Ali is a drop-dead gorgeous woman; I mean a naturally beautiful woman and can kick ass, but you never heard them [the media] saying when she had I think somewhere around 10, 11, 12 fights that she was the baddest woman to ever fight on the planet.

The above remarks are not so much about Rousey and Ali as they are about his view that the press and public praised Rousey for lesser achievements than Ali. Also, Laila Ali’s beauty did not garner her the level of crossover sex appeal in marketing as Rousey, including sports media coverage.

Regarding Conor McGregor’s hype vs. his own, Mayweather said…

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And what’s so crazy, I don’t really know the McGregor guy; never seen him fight. I heard his name actually from one of the runners that works for our company; a little kid named Ken Hopkins, he’s a runner and takes care of a lot of the daily business. Whatever we need, he takes care of. He’s a cool little kid, I like him, and he does MMA. He told me about the guy McGregor. They say he talk a lot of trash and people praise him for it, but when I did it, they say I’m cocky and arrogant. So biased! Like I said before, all I’m saying is this, I ain’t racist at all, but I’m telling you racism still exists.

Imagine the backlash if a newly crowned, young Black boxing champion posted an image of what appeared to be them wearing a ski mask, doing a drive-by shooting in an exotic car, as McGregor did in this Instagram post:

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Mayweather did not discredit McGregor as a fighter. Nor did he suggest McGregor owes all of his success as a fighter to racism. Mayweather merely pointed out a racial double-standard that even his critics at Yahoo! Sports acknowledge exists, saying “There’s no denying double standards still exist in sports.”

They gave examples of the racial double-standard in sports media reporting between White and Black athletes. Yet… That being said, what Mayweather’s spouting here sure sounds like sour grapes, they said.

So… he’s actually correct in his observations, but it “sure sounds like sour grapes?” That makes no logical sense.

‘Sour grapes’ by definition means “unfair criticism that comes from someone who is disappointed about not getting something.” Based on Yahoo! Sports rationale, pointing out unfair racial double-standards or discrimination is an “unfair criticism” if the discriminated party is disappointed by not receiving the “something” denied them by said unfair racial double-standard or discrimination. This logic eats itself and smacks of white privilege.

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For his part, Conor McGregor–both the real and impostor–clapped back at Mayweather with responses that lacked self-awareness and historical context in a way that also validated Mayweather’s point about racism.

Not to engage in an oppression competition between the Irish countrymen and African-Americans, but a quick once-over of McGregor’s #4 does reveal either an ignorance on his part of what institutionalized racism actually is in the U.S., or a willful attempt to equivocate and obfuscate what racism is for the purpose of placating to the very racial bias being criticized.

Reality check:

4. Floyd Mayweather, don’t ever bring race into my success again.

Even Mayweather critics agree a racial double-standard benefits White star athletes like McGregor in a manner that eludes Black star athletes.

I am an Irishman. My people have been oppressed our entire existence. And still very much are.

Untrue. Though, the Irish have endured oppression in parts of their history, such oppression has not been for their “entire existence” and certainly does not presently persist in its past form.

I understand the feeling of prejudice. It is a feeling that is deep in my blood. 

Understanding the feeling of ethnic prejudice in a predominantly White country does not qualify a White person to understand racial prejudice against Blacks in a predominantly White populated power structure.

There’s also the fact that while Irishmen were treated as second-class citizens in the United Kingdom, they were able to benefit from white supremacy in ‘the New World’ as slave traders, overseers, and catchers known as ‘paddyrollers.’ Which has roots in modern policing in the U.S.

In my family’s long history of warfare there was a time where just having the name ‘McGregor’ was punishable by death.

In Mayweather’s entire race’s history in this country there was and remains a time when just being Black was punishable by death, no matter what their name was–names imposed upon them by their slave masters.

Do not ever put me in a bracket like this again.

Mayweather didn’t put McGregor in that bracket; McGregor put himself in that bracket when he took personally Mayweather’s criticism of media racial bias. (The Irishman doth protest too much, methinks.)

If you want we can organise a fight no problem. I will give you a fair 80/20 split purse in my favour seen as your last fight bombed at every area of revenue. 

Nonsense. Mayweather’s PPV “bomb” with Andre Berto was a $32 million dollar pay day for Mayweather alone. Which triples McGregor’s largest total gate: $10.1 million.

At 27 years of age I now hold the key to this game. The game answers to me now.

Perhaps as a big fish in the comparably little pond of the UFC promotion alone, “the game” may answer to McGregor–until P4P champion Jon Jones’ return or the Holm v Rousey rematch is on–but this is an absurd boast for McGregor to make at a top earning boxer, retried or active. The numbers to back this boast simple aren’t there. Mayweather spent more money on two cars than the entire 2015 top 10 UFC earners made all year.

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Racism isn’t as overt in McGregor’s Instagram response, as much as it’s seen in the press/public response to both his real and fake response(s).

Instead of exploring the charge of a racial double-standard in sports media, the headlines about this ‘beef’ mostly highlighted a White man (McGregor) ordering a Black man (Mayweather) to never speak of racism again in reference to his success. (Which wasn’t what Mayweather did.)

It was clear that many (mostly White) fight fans and media–though, there are exceptions–were not viewing the Mayweather/McGregor exchange as a mere war of words between two controversial cocksure champion pugilists. They used McGregor’s response to reject racism–i.e. white privilege–as a thing altogether. Based on the denials of a new white MMA champion, whose self-promotion comes across as a wannabe doppelganger of two Black boxing all-time greats: Mayweather Jr and Ali.

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With Conor McGregor, we have a two-time loser fighter whose only been undisputed champion of UFC signed competition for one month being propped up by the media in the same airspace as all-time great Black boxers whose achievements are too many to list in one paragraph.

Mayweather alone has beaten 23 world champions; McGregor’s only beaten one UFC champion… last month. Yet, instead of being dismissed as a pretender to the throne, until he’s proven himself against more world class competition, many in the press and public compare him to Floyd Mayweather Jr, Muhammad Ali, and Bruce Lee combined! (Got privilege?)

I wish Conor McGregor well in all his endeavors as a fighter, but I won’t pretend that him being Irish makes him any less a beneficiary of white privilege in a white power structure undergirded by systemic/societal racism. Which benefits the majority White population at the expense of ‘minorities.’ Make no mistake: “the game” is rigged. #dontBSyourself

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7 thoughts on “Yes, Conor McGregor, Even White Irishmen Have White Privilege In the U.S.

  1. Way to Tell the Truth!!! Many in the American press try to make it look like racism is no longer relevant. But when we look outside of the sports arena children are dying, and whole communities are languishing in poverty and neglect in the same cities that build a new suburb every year. This country still has many years of oppression and corrupt practices perpetrated towards African Americans to answer for. Reparations Now!

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    1. Great point. The stadium racket is major con job that disproportionately benefit the upper class at the expense of lower class (who tend to be minorities), especially when teams leave town before the stadium has even paid for itself. Sticking local tax payers with the tab.

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  2. I think you bring up many good points. I’m not sure I wholly agree because there are other factors at work, such as UFC’s popularity versus boxing at the moment. JBJ is/was HUGE in the UFC because that dude was seriously killer. In fact, the phrase “Jon Bones Jones’d” him was up there to describe someone being beaten mercilously. Also, L. Ali was in the sport before it became popular for women. Will MacGregor EVER be a name in history like Muhammad Ali? Nope. Ali branded himself. He was larger than life. He was the innovator. Mayweather is not even Ali. Tyson (in some ways) was not either. Ali was a force of nature. I wasn’t even born when he did all the things he did but I know his name like I know Bruce Lee’s name because they were also statesmen for their profession. I do think there is still white bias and won’t ignore that, but I don’t think it’s racism. Had JBJ taken Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson’s approach to his career and shit talked he’d have been the bigger name because he has/had talent out the ass. MacGregor gets that. Ex. Kanye West is BRILLIANT, but what made him Kanye West was his mouth.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

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    1. Boxing is a more established and popular sport worldwide than MMA. It may seem otherwise, based on UFC’s increasing marketability, but major boxing PPV events consistently beat UFC events. High profile boxers earn incomparably more than top UFC fighters because there’s a broader base of paying fans, as opposed to the mostly casual fans of MMA. JBJ was MMA popular, not boxing popular. And even then, the UFC never gave JBJ or Anderson Silva the full court press of promotion that they did McGregor and Rousey, even though JBJ and Silva are thought to be all-time greats of the sport. Double Standard.

      @ “L. Ali was in the sport before it became popular for women.” So was Rousey, but Rousey wasn’t a champion fighter daughter of the ‘greatest of all times.’ The edge should have been to L. Ali, but Rousey’s marketability far exceeded her actual accomplishments in the octagon. Think of everything you said in favor of Ali. Does it stand to reason that THAT guy’s undefeated world champion boxer daughter would be less marketable than Rousey, based on their actual attributes and achievements?

      You’re saying it’s “bias” not racism, but I don’t see where you’ve actually ruled out racism with tangible examples.

      Mayweather is actually more successful in every category than Muhammad Ali was in his hey day. Yes, Mayweather has a lot of haters, but so did Ali back then. Ali was jailed in his prime fighting years by the government. Mayweather hasn’t face that level of adversity. He went to jail for domestic violence and that still didn’t earn him the ire that racists heaped on Ali. There’s a lot of revisionism that happens about the racism to which Ali was subjected. Do you think that all went away, just in time for Mayweather?

      And I’m glad you said this: “Had JBJ taken Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson’s approach to his career and shit talked he’d have been the bigger name because he has/had talent out the ass. MacGregor gets that.”

      Every time JBJ said the slightest thing that conveyed self-confidence, he too was called “arrogant” and “cocky.” Fans questioned his “humility.” It got to a point where he was even being criticized for being “fake humble” when he tried to curb the “arrogant” criticisms. He was damned if he did or didn’t. Black athletes face a double standard when it comes to trash talk. That was actually Mayweather’s central point. Whereas white athletes are applauded as “confident” and “cocksure.” Black athletes are panned as “conceited” and “uppity.”

      The fact that it took “mouth” for Kanye to blow up after releasing a trove brilliant music, while Macklemore gets fame, fortune, and top awards off not-so-brilliant music on the humble is yet another example of the racial double standard that you don’t see.

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      1. Let me say, first, that Mayweather is no Ali. Muhammad Ali was an athlete, an activist, an elder statesman, and his own brand. If you are not already wealthy this is the road you must take. I don’t care if you’re white, black, male, female you have to create a goddamn spectacle to be heard.

        Ali created a spectacle from the moment he told people what round someone was going down to when he protested Vietnam.

        He was able to take philosophically complex issues and articulate them from a place of confidence, and out-thought all his detractors on: the war, poverty, racism, etc. He was more than an athlete.

        Mayweather is only like Ali in that he’s a boxer of color. He has not made himself heard on the war, global poverty, or challenged the system in the same way.

        As far as Rousey, my opinions on her are this: women came before her in that sport–Gina, for example, who didn’t achieve her fame because the time was not right for them. Feminists had not turned to UFC yet and didn’t make her into a household name until just recently. I am surprised that L. Ali got any press and the press she got was because she was Muhammad’s daughter.

        Racism exists in the legal system. 100% agree. Blacks are equal participants and receive unequal outcomes. The power is in a centralized system which punishes blacks in a different more egregious way than whites.

        Is racism why MacGregor gets publicity? I personally don’t think so. I think he gets more publicity than other white guys because he’s a good looking guy who flaunts his sex appeal. He’s 10x as famous as other white dudes, too, because women who started to watch UFC for Ronda were like, hellooooo.

        There’s also a reason why Beyonce is bigger than Ledisi in spite of the fact that we all know Ledisi is a better singer. She is. Truth.

        Katy Perry can’t sing like Carrie Underwood but one of them shows their boobs more.

        I’m not saying it is NOT racism, but I’m not sure that it IS racism.

        For example, you see Kanye differently than I do –although agreeably Macklemore was shit–Kanye was is a national fucking treasure. His brand isn’t “uppity black man”. His brand is KANYE. His ego is bigger than Madonnas, which is saying something.

        But his ego is also based off the fact that he is one of the most talented people in the game. People don’t think uppity, they think ego–but, what’s wrong with that? Even what’s wrong with uppity? If you know you’re good, if you need to stand out, why not?

        We love people like Kanye, the Rock, and Ali because they treat us like shit. We love that ego because we want to be them. Oh sure people say it like a criticism but we’re buying their shit left and right.

        Girls love to say “His ego is so big!” But who do they date the second that ego driven asshole asks them?

        Kanye West will be remembered 100 years from now when Macklemore will not be. Muhammad Ali will be remembered where Mayweather will not be. They get that they are not just artists and athletes but entertainers.

        I’ll also add to this, Chuck D is an elder statesman. KRS-1, is an elder statesman. They are intelligent but not flashy. Their brand is education, not spectacle creation. This is not black or white, but society who chooses to place value over the fireworks than the substance.

        BTW, I appreciate the back and forth. I love people who make me think.

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  3. Completely biased view here. Racism is a two way street. Yes, black people were victims at one point, but when they suddenly became popular music stars in the 60’s that started to change, in the 70’s even more so. Fast forward to the 00’s and now, black people hold the image of “cool” in the eyes of everyone, predominantly in the arena of music.

    Let’s be honest here, when Beyonce gets up on stage and does a little dance routine and wails over a prerecorded drumbeat, hardly music (try going out and buying the sheet music for one of her songs – oops, not gonna happen), she’s heralded as something wonderful. Talent is subjective but the audience are just sheep and go with the masses. For the moment rubbish like Beyonce and Jayz are seen as cool and will stay popular for a little while longer. They have the upper hand in this realm (BLACK PRIVILEGE).

    Ever seen a white rapper that was actually taken seriously? Yes Eminiem was for a while but that was because he let it be known very early in his career who he was in the studios with and who was producing his tracks (more black privilege).

    The reason Conor McGregor is flavour of the month is because MMA is on the up, it’s the “new” thing to the masses (even thought it’s been around for quite a while now). It’s soon become a mainstay like boxing and just be another string to the bow of fight sports.

    Just remember this: if this is a “white” world, the oppressed have two choices; 1) do nothing except complain and sit on their asses 2) make changes and build a world for themselves that balances things out and integrates with this “white” world. Sounds to me like the latter has been happening for a long time.

    In 100 years people will look back at this and see that playing the race card too often actually wears out it’s potential.

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    1. Fun fact: Black people were popular music stars before the ’60s and being “cool” didn’t shield us from racism. Ask then superstar Nat King Cole, who was viciously beaten on stage by a racist attackers in Birmingham, Alabama.

      Secondly, Beyoncé tours with a live band and also sings live. Her talent speaks for itself. No defense needed.

      The idea that two popular Black artists whose careers span decades of hard work = “BLACK PRIVILEGE” is so utterly asinine, it does not warrant an intelligent rebuttal. Wise up.

      Yes, Eminem was “taken seriously,” but so were the Beastie Boys, 3rd Base, & House of Pain in earlier days. Now, Mac Miller, Action Bronson & even Yelawolf all enjoy successful careers. To name a few. Next.

      UFC has been around for nearly 25 years, and has never approached the popularity level of boxing. And UFC’s popularity as a promotion hasn’t been equaled by any other MMA promotion. McGregor is popular because his promotion company promoted him. His marketing resonates with a base of fans who are fans of his, not necessarily fans of followers of MMA.

      Your #1 & #2 options for oppressed people living in a “white world” are absurd. Clearly, you know even less about what the oppressed must do to survive and overcome oppression than you know about what system and societal oppression itself. Talk less. Read more.

      100 years from now, White people will still be chirping about the so called “race card” being played, just as they did 100 years ago. I don’t expect that to change, but hopefully the percentageof them who are as ignorant as you will be far fewer by then than now.

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