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View Diary: The "Hard Times" Mythologies of White Ethnics: Exploring the Fiction that was "No Irish Need Apply" (70 comments)

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  •  A bit of counterevidence: (9+ / 0-)

    it's also well-attested that, on the job market, the Irish were considered at the same level as "Free Coloureds", if we go by Akenson: the race riots that occurred between Irish immigrants and Black workers occurred specifically because they were confined to the same limited job sphere.  In New Orleans, early Irish settlement was limited to places like the Marigny, which at the time was a low-class mix of Irish, Italian, and Black (also the Irish Channel, where my mom grew up in one of the housing projects), at least at the beginning of the last century.  Keep in mind that New Orleans was overwhelmingly Catholic, so it can't be anti-Catholic sentiment that drove that particular market and that segregation.  So there's no doubt that, even if the infamous "No Irish Need Apply" signs are overstated, we can see in things like population, residency, and jobs that the Irish were considered by the city's residence to be nearer the black community than the 'respectable' whites.  

    All that being said, the fact that the Irish were able to 'transcend' into respectability is without doubt because of skin color.  How the Irish tended to get out of it, at least in cities like New York, Boston, and New Orleans, was by filling up the ranks of the police force - in essence becoming the tool of the state that oppressed them as a way of earning their passage out of the 'lower' ranks. So 99% of your diary, I agree with.  Just wanted to through out these other sources as counterevidence against a too-broad thesis.

    Disclosure: I'm probably an eighth or a sixteenth Irish, or something like that?  If it matters.  I don't tend to identify as Irish descent, because it's both so little and from a branch of the family I haven't had any contact with.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Thu Jun 21, 2012 at 11:16:39 AM PDT

    •  absolutely, one of my favorite stories (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pico, absdoggy, chipmo

      is about Irish anti-black riots in Boston and New York where these newly "white" Irish would dress up as women and burn down black churches and communities. Many of these communities and people were the same ones that the rioters not too long ago as kin and home.

      The Irish were also able to force blacks out of certain jobs on docks, horse racing, as vendors, and in other areas too.

    •  But let's remember why the police force was open (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      arendt, LucyandByron, pico, Catte Nappe, mayim

      Back in the 1800s and early 1900s, working in the public sector - police, fire, public works, etc. - was considered demeaning work, work that respectable people didn't do.  However, as the population and city infrastructure grew, so did the public sector. This was the niche that the Irish began to fill and with which they built political clout.

      Just look at Boston and how its white ethnic communities developed - the Irish in Southie and Dorchester, Italians in the North End, Portugese in East Boston, Chinatown, etc. Each found a niche in which to live and in which to work and developed from there.

      Hell, even in the early 1980s when I played basketball in the Church league in Lowell, MA:  you played St. Patricks - every kid was white Irish; you played St. Jeanne D'Arc - every kid was white French; you played St. Rita's - every kid was white Italian, and so on.

      I think this, along with racism, is a big reason why the black community had such a hard time in the Northeast, and why we still have de jure segregation there today - the black community never had that niche in which to gain a foothold to prosperity.

      Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

      by absdoggy on Thu Jun 21, 2012 at 11:53:38 AM PDT

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