Discrimination and Prejudice Endured by Early Irish Immigrants Candance Miles 9034484288 ETH/125 10-30-2011 Malcolm Shannon Irish immigration to the United States was prominent after 1845-1848 due to a famine in Ireland. The Irish were seeking survival but endured many hardships because of prejudices against the Catholic religion. The Irish were also subject to face segregation and racism. Their daily lives were affected by redlining, double jeopardy, dual labor markets, glass ceilings, reverse discrimination, and institutional discrimination.
These conditions made life for the Irish immigrants not only difficult but unbearable at times. The immigrants were not only treated badly because of xenophobia but also because they were Catholic. The Irish were forced to live in unfit conditions and only with other Irish. They lived mostly in very small quarters, sometimes basements that flooded, and with no lights or water, and were expected to pay unreasonable rates. This led to sickness, disease, and even death for many. They lived in shame and poverty and were considered to be the lowliest of groups in America.
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It seemed as though these conditions would not change because of the discrimination when it came to employment (Histira, 1996, p. 11). The Irish were considered uneducated and unworthy. The search for jobs led to dead ends and endless signs posted saying, “Irish need not apply”. Many Irish found themselves begging or in prison. They were left taking low paying dangerous jobs building bridges, canals, and railroads. The women also worked as chambermaids, cooks, and caretakers of children. There were already so few jobs that when came to freeing the slaves, the Irish acted ut in violence for fear that the blacks would take unskilled jobs away from them. This was contrary considering it was the whites and not the blacks that put them in the situation that they were in, and the Irish were thought to be worse than blacks according to the whites. This is because the Irish would not be silent about their treatment. The employers would mix up the minority employees so that they could not unite (Famine America, 2000, p. 32). The Irish continued to suffer at the hands of the nativism thinking of the Know Nothings.
The know nothings were a group that did not survive but inspired other organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and the anti-Catholic American Protective Association. The Know Nothings were a party that would remain silent about their fight against Catholicism and demanded a 21 year naturalization period. They also swore politically to only vote for Native Americans. There were also incidences of mob violence that led the burning of churches and Catholic homes. The violence got so extreme that it took the Marines and the state militia to put an end to this violence. Schaefer (2006)
I have a lot of Irish roots in my family history. I am proud of my ancestry but I am also grateful that times have changed. It is because the time that has past that I really do not identify with the hardships that my ancestors endured. It seems as though today in America, main stream culture is a melting pot of diversity. This is what I most relate to in society today. Unfortunately there is and could always be the possibility of racism, prejudice, and discrimination; especially when it comes to employment and the class of people. I am thankful that I do not experience today any of those things.
I could not imagine if I had to suffer discrimination because I am white, or a woman, or a Christian. So although I cannot identify with ethnicity of my heritage, I most definitely can respect it. From the discrimination of their religion to the being denied high position or high paying jobs, or any jobs at all, to being forced into unfit living conditions, to the mob violence, and through all the mistreatment as human beings; the Irish struggled tremendously throughout their early quest for survival. Today they are free to belong to the religion of the choice, ble to take advantage of the education that all is afforded, given the equal treatment that is deserved and the financial opportunity; this is what has been accomplished. I am sure that there were times of desperation when they longed for their homeland, but I am also sure that some, if not most, would have said that life is worth the sacrifice. REFERENCES TheHistoryPlace(2000)Retrievedfromhttp://www. historyplace. com/worldhistory/famine/america. htm Kinsellas(1996)Retrieved from http://www. kinsella. org/history/histira. htm Schaefer T. (2006). Racial and Ethnic Groups, Tenth Edition, Prentice-Hall