Ethnic Groups and Discrimination
An ethnic group that I belong to is that of Irish Americans. However, “belong to” is such a strong phrase, implying ownership and labeling that I do not personally agree with as a way of life. No, I do not identify myself as Irish, but I do descend from Irish blood. It is my perspective and opinion that a person can be better defined by his or her character and the events and decisions that shape his or her life, rather than the inherited qualities of genetics or culture of ancestors. I live right now, and identify more with mainstream culture and who I am inside than of any label, such as ethnicity. Some might say this is fallacy, but I see it as a necessary function in a world that must break down all walls of social construction that separate one human from another if we are to achieve true globalization. Of course, all of this is not to mean I do not respect my ancestry. The Irish have come a long way since a mass migration to the United States in the late 1840’s, encountering much hardship and adversity that includes much prejudice and racism. They have contended with the various forms of discrimination, such as segregation, environmental justice issues, dual labor, glass ceilings, and double jeopardy.
Although the Irish first started coming to America as early as the 1700s (Gavin, 2000), it was not until a devestating famine occurred in Ireland between the years of 1845-1851, leaving the country without any food with which to feed their citizens, that a massive surge of immigration to the United States began. This was known as the “Irish Potato Famine,” and people there soon began to realize that there were only two choices available to them: Immigration to a new land, or remain and most certainly die of starvation as a great many already had. Many were not even given a choice; they were simply shipped off in what was known as “coffin ships” (Gavin, 2000) to North America. Those who immigrated to the...