University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
The Student Teachers Anti-Racism Society (STARS) promotes anti-racism education at the College of Education, University of Saskatchewan through the support of the College. We work collaboratively to understand, identify, and address individual and systemic racism and its interlocking forms of oppression based on gender, sexuality, ability, class, religion and other socially constructed categories. We believe that anti-racist and decolonizing education, when woven together, can create humanizing and emancipatory change for everyone.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day: Beyond green and pots of gold

On St. Patrick's Day we often celebrate with a green beer or tell our kids about leprechauns and pots of gold. It seems, however, that few students are taught about the history of Irish racialization, both as inferior and superior.

"What is not often taught in schools or known by the many who routinely celebrate St. Patrick's Day, is that throughout the Irish 'Potato famine' there was an abundance of food produced in Ireland, yet the landlords exported it to markets abroad." Excerpt from The Real Irish American Story not Taught in Schools (http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/03/15-4)

"Over the course of the 19th and early 20th century, Irish Americans managed to a great extent to enter and become part of the dominant white culture. In an attempt to secure the prosperity and social position that their white skin had not guaranteed them in Europe, Irish immigrants lobbied for white racial status in America. Although Irish people’s pale skin color and European roots suggested evidence of their white racial pedigree, the discrimination that immigrants experienced on the job (although the extent of the “No Irish Need Apply” discrimination is disputed), the simian caricatures they saw of themselves in the newspapers, meant that “whiteness” was a status that would be achieved, not ascribed." Excerpt from Irish Americans, Racism and the Pursuit of Whiteness (http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2010/03/17/irish-americans-racism-and-the-pursuit-of-whiteness/)

For more in-depth analyses of the making of Irish whiteness see: David Roediger's (1991) The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class and How the Irish Became White (1996) by Noel Ignatiev.

* Historical cartoons of Irish racialization (for students to deconstruct) can be found through a Google image search of 'Irish racism.'

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