How the Irish Became White

How the Irish Became White Ignatiev traces the tattered history of Irish and African American relations revealing how the Irish used labor unions the Catholic Church and the Democratic party to help gain and secure their newl

  • Title: How the Irish Became White
  • Author: Noel Ignatiev
  • ISBN: 9780415918251
  • Page: 463
  • Format: Paperback
  • Ignatiev traces the tattered history of Irish and African American relations, revealing how the Irish used labor unions, the Catholic Church and the Democratic party to help gain and secure their newly found place in the White Republic He uncovers the roots of conflict between Irish Americans African Americans draws a powerful connection between the embracingIgnatiev traces the tattered history of Irish and African American relations, revealing how the Irish used labor unions, the Catholic Church and the Democratic party to help gain and secure their newly found place in the White Republic He uncovers the roots of conflict between Irish Americans African Americans draws a powerful connection between the embracing of white supremacy Irish success in 19th century American society.

    One thought on “How the Irish Became White”

    1. This book should actually be called 'how the American Irish became white'. All the same, the current title is a very cute one. As Billy Connolly says somewhere of those of us of a Celtic disposition, we actually start off a pale blue colour and it takes us a couple of weeks in the sun to go white. This, of course, isn’t true, really. In fact, a couple of weeks in the sun and we become snakes, having shed multiple layers of skin.It wasn’t at all clear that the Irish might ever really become w [...]

    2. Apparently it was LBJ (and not Malcolm X like I assumed for some reason) who said "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."This quote, I believe, is a concise description of what Ignatiev is explaining in How the Irish Became White. It's not so much about how Irish immigrants changed their ethnicity but rather how they learned about the [...]

    3. When the Irish, particularly the rural Catholic Irish, began to flood the eastern cities of the United States during the first half of the nineteenth century their position in society was very low, the lowest, in fact, of any large immigrant population of the era. How was it, Ignatiev asks, that they assimilated into the nation? The answer this book gives is not an uplifting one, hinging as it does upon, generally, the manufacture and maintenance of in and out groups and upon, particularly, the [...]

    4. One of the best works of history on race in America ever written. This book will reward the attentive reader with example after example of how the Irish altered their social position by acquiring "white privilege" long before the word was even known. It dovetails very nicely with the broader and equally brilliant Race: the Birth of An Idea in the West by Ivan Hannaford. Hannaford looks at the 30,000 foot level and the four century perspective. Ignatiev examines one nation, and the history of one [...]

    5. Do you have any racially neurotic friends? sure you do. have you ever noticed that they often think they're being profound and incisive, but they're actually just speaking and thinking in broad generalities that hold no water when examined in any kind of detail? of course you have. have you ever wanted to crawl inside their minds and bitch slap that racial victim/guilt/fetishist part of them? who hasn't? well, now you can. just tell them to read this book, gain some perspective, and take it down [...]

    6. One finely-written history that challenges a lot of assumptions one may have harbored about our common American past. It will definitely make you cast a jaundiced eye toward anyone who talks about how hard the Irish had it when they first came to America. It might actually make you wanna slap them silly. I don't recommend that, though. Just read the book and share the knowledge.

    7. I think this book has really important ideas but is terribly written. The main takeaways are crucial, especially for white people's own understanding of their identity and privilege. I'd summarize the main lesson as: Whiteness is historically situated, contingent, and deeply connected if not inseparable from the claimants' willingness to uphold white supremacy through violence. It also does a good job discussing the developing whiteness of the Irish in the context of inter-class conflict and int [...]

    8. How the Irish Became White provides a glimpse at the social evolution of the Irish in the years surrounding the Civil War, as they transitioned from an oppressed and unwelcome social class, to members of the white racial class. The Irish in Ireland faced numerous troubles in the early 19th Century. They were impoverished farmers who were determined to break free from England’s tyranny. But once they finally emigrated to the United States, something unexpected happened; they were faced with a n [...]

    9. If you are Irish and want to feel even worse about yourself, or if you just plain don't like white people, I highly recommend this book. What started as an opportunity to make an interesting, educated, intelligent point on the history of race relations in America, quickly degraded into a tired, narrow-viewed blast against an ethnic group who would dare assimilate into their new land.I am by no means defending some of the behavior of some Irish in America in the 1800s, however this book had the w [...]

    10. "It is a curious fact," wrote John Finch, an English Owenite who traveled the United States in 1843, "that the democratic party, and particularly the poorer class of Irish immigrants in America, are greater enemies to the negro population, and greater advocates for the continuance of negro slavery, than any portion of the population in the free States."How did the Irish become White? By violently subjugating African Americans, according to this courageous book by Noel Ignatiev.As a part-Irish Am [...]

    11. Ignatiev has gotten a lot of crap from people saying he paints the Irish as a bunch of racist assholes but I didn't see that in this history of the creation of the white race. I think that he covers a fair amount of ground, hitting on issues of race, class, and a small bit of gender (though not much). While whiteness as a historical study might be a fading fad, this book is absolutely important for any socially conscious person. If you claim Irish ancestry, don't buy into the neg hype - to truly [...]

    12. A very disappointing book that never answers the question in the title. Instead it is a collection of essays mostly unrelated to each other and only vaguely related to the topic. The most is mostly rambling case studies and anecdotes, with a numbing listing of events with little narrative or explanation.The focus is also far too narrow, for some reason focusing on Philadelphia around 1840s and 50s, which is only a fraction of the Irish experience. There is never any discussion about what being W [...]

    13. A well-written account of how Irish immigrants--- despised both in English-ruled Ireland and in Anglo-Saxon America as Catholic, uncivilised, and barely English-speaking ---became "white". Ignatiev looks to the all-too-human need of any oppressed group to find someone farther down the totem pole and to the way in which elites used race as a wedge to keep poor whites separate from and hostile to blacks both slave and free. A telling account of racial politics in the antebellum years.

    14. Ignatiev is a master of whiteness studies. The development of different racial attitudes and identities between the Irish and Irish Americans is sad. Great read if you are wondering how certain groups became white, or if you thought that all people from Europe were always considered white in the US.

    15. Lots of good information to support an important premise but so poorly organized and edited that it becomes frustrating to read. Mainly covers the Irish and Black people during the nineteenth century in and around Philadelphia with many digressions and not much theoretical grounding to show how what happened in Philly was more universally the case. A sloppy book, full of important facts but not well enough contextualized to hold one's interest.--------------------------------A second look at “ [...]

    16. History is best written if it retells the story of the past to explain how we all got to where we are now. Noel Ignatiev's, "How the Irish Became White", is one of those books where the present is illuminated by the past. He attempts to explain how Irish Americans embraced the privileges of their "whiteness" in the United States over against the plight of their African-American urban neighbors and against the cause of the abolitionists, in order to cast off the scorn of their oppressed existence [...]

    17. I think this is one of Noel's best pieces of writings. He is always challenging, insightful and incisive. This book, fully loaded with a tight historical narrative, avoids some of the pitfalls that other works in the White Studies canon fall into. That is that the antidote to WSP is simple individual choices, moments of "treason". At this point, almost any treason to the existing order is welcome, but I prefer the organized political type.The book will go along way towards connecting Irish-Ameri [...]

    18. Ignatiev's goal and he succeeds and i hope far more scholars join him is to 'dig under the walls of' Ethnic Studies, Black Studies and labor history. he's vicious and correct in his critique of the new labor history; in short if a bunch more books were written like this one and read, we'd have a stronger labor movement that would have to start by recalibrating the entire category of "who" and "what""labor" is. This along with Roediger, provides the key to appreciating the best of the 90s fad of [...]

    19. SO BORING. This is such an interesting subject, but the writing is so dry that it reads more like the worst text book you've ever had. You can still manage to get something out of it, but it certainly isn't easy.

    20. Perhaps knowing Ignatiev's son influenced my opinions, nevertheless I was quite impressed by this book. Most insightful were his thoughts on the concept of race in general featured in the afterward

    21. During the potato famine large numbers of unskilled, poor Irish started arriving in America. There they were treated like $**t. They found themselves facing American "nativists" who wanted these immigrants to return to their country of origin and leave the US to true Americans; competition from free African American laborers for jobs; and extreme poverty.These Irish had a choice - join the fight against slavery (like many Irish still home in Ireland urged them to do) uniting with slaves to forge [...]

    22. This is definitely a great topic for a book, basically exploring the reasons why one part of the lower class would side with their oppressors against another part of their own class. It's pretty amazing how easy it is to get people to turn on each other. I graduated from college at about the start of the great recession and it was the only time in my life I ever acted even the slightest bit racist. I hate thinking about how close I came to choosing the wrong path but things easily could have pla [...]

    23. I don't remember where I saw this book recommended initially, but having finished up some reading on African American history, and having had some questions on how we perceive race from the White Santa debacle (sporkful/2013/12/), this seemed like a reasonable reading choice. I was really disappointed.At first it was just kind of underwhelming. There would be some interesting information, often horrific, but it was generally hard to focus because it was boring and when he occasionally tried to g [...]

    24. I don't read a lot of history, so it was difficult for me to follow this and retain the details. It did, however provide a lot of context about how whiteness became more solidified through a tendency of choices, alliances, and actions taken by the Irish. It is hard to imagine that the Irish once was perceived by white protestants and barely human. Thinking back at the book, it seems that there wasn't much emphasis on the desires of the ruling class to have the Irish ally themselves with whites. [...]

    25. Ignatiev is heavy on the well-researched facts of Irish political maneuvering in the US (and Ireland) and perhaps a bit light on the overall arguments. That said, the argument itself is clear and challenging so perhaps it could be said that I didn't need as much convincing as the author's research was prepared to provide, and thus I drowned a bit in the details.

    26. this book was pretty world shattering. my views on american life in the 19th century have completely changed, and my concept of how racism developed, and even what it is exactly have been called into question.

    27. An excellent history of the class and racial identity of Irish in America in the EP Thompson mode, although it doesn't have nearly the comprehensiveness of The making of the English Working Class. So very good, but a bit scattered, and it reads almost like a preliminary sketch of a greater work.

    28. Not what I thought it was going to be. Ignatiev focuses almost entirely on Irish anti-black racism, and not other ways of assimilation.

    29. this book was good. it left me wavering between respect and admiration for Irish immigrants and abject loathing and hating.

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