Pulling Out the Reverse Card!

Towards the end of “Moon and the Mars”, we rstart to see how the Civil War incited civil conflict in diverse communities. In the beginning of the book, we see Irish and Black people coexisting in Five Points. They worked together, lived together, and even danced together as we saw with Auntie Siobhan and Auntie Eunice. But as the Civil War developed through 1862 and 1863, we see the termination of this coexistence. In particular, a lot of Irish men were drafted to fight for the Union. However, as the Irish saw that their people were getting killed or wounded in large numbers, they started questioning their roles in the Civil War. One officer noted that he “did not come out to fight for the n*gger or the abolition of slavery” (Corthron, 475) and another said that he has no encouragement “to fight for a lot of N*gger lovers at home” (Corthron, 476). These two statements demonstrate that although New York was a free state and had diverse neighborhoods, racism was still inescapable and would be used to propel one community over the other when needed.

In class today, we talked about how Irish-Americans started to break away from the Black community and identify more as White Americans. As discussed earlier today, a lot of Irish-Americans used this as a means of social survival. They thought that disassociating themselves with Black people would give them social benefits (more jobs, more political positions, etc). We see that they participated in the idea of “masters and slaves”, where the Irish were once “slaves” in this case (not actual slaves like Black people were) and had a lower social position that other White people. They became “masters” after the Civil War once they decided to use their race (not their ethnicity) to gain social status. This decision that was made in the 1860s has almost been reversed in today’s society. Nowadays, many Americans with Irish ancestry want to claim this part of themselves to show that their ancestors also experienced oppression. They want to disassociate themselves from White people with British ancestry so they do not seem like the “masters” that their ancestors once were. In today’s society it’s almost “cool” to be part of a marginalized group when it was the exact opposite during Theo’s time in Moon and the Mars. It’s interesting to see how such positions have been reversed yet remained the same since the Civil War.

2 Replies to “Pulling Out the Reverse Card!”

  1. Everybody wants to be oppressed in today’s society so I am not surprised that people have started to claim Irish ancestry. People in general want to cherry pick qualities that serve them. There are not many visible features of being Irish so there is also no easy way to fact check if these people claiming it are even of direct heritage. This is one key way that their struggle was different from African-Americans, as most of them cannot hide the features that make them Black.

  2. I visited and discussed a similar topic in my post for this week, however, I really liked how you connected it to Moon and the Mars. Additionally, I think it is an interesting point that through the Irish adopting whiteness as a racial identity, they started to not only disassociate from the black community but also oppress it.

    Another place in history where we have seen an oppressed group begin to oppress others is within the feminist movement. Despite the feminist movement being founded on the idea of ending oppression against women in order to provide equal opportunity for all, white women have historically pushed aside and oppressed women of color in the midst of fighting the oppression that they faced themselves as women. It is really quite ironic and would be an interesting layer to add to this historical sphere.

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